November 27, 2007 by Canadian Underwriter
Ontarios superintendent of financial services should review the use of the verbal threshold for establishing serious and permanent injury and/or the use of a Cdn$30,000 deductible to discourage plaintiffs from pursuing smaller auto negligence claims, according to the summary of findings in the Civil Justice Reform Project.
The author of the Civil Justice Reform report, former associate Chief Justice of Ontario Coulter Osborne, released his findings in November 2007. Smaller auto negligence claims represent 21% of the provinces Superior Court of Justice claims, Osborne noted.
In his report, Osborne noted Ontarios Bill 198 amendments to the Insurance Act in 1996, as well as its associated regulations, are intended to minimize smaller auto negligence claims.
Under the verbal threshold, plaintiffs must establish medical evidence that the injuries they sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident were serious and permanent.
As for the deductible, auto negligence claims are subject to a Cdn$30,000 deductible unless the judgment exceeds Cdn$100,000. Put crassly, no one of sound mind is likely to pursue a [Cdn]$30,000 or [Cdn]$40,000 claim if [Cdn]$30,000 of it is to be deducted at the end, Osborne noted.
Osborne suggested the verbal threshold and the Cdn$30,000 deductible are redundant, and one or the other could do the job of both. In light of the generally similar purposes of the deductible and the verbal threshold, what claims are excluded by the verbal threshold that would not be excluded by the deductible?
Both the deductible and the verbal threshold have access to justice implications.