In a prior blog post, we addressed the ICBC minor injury caps which came into effect for all motor vehicle accidents occurring on or after April 1, 2019. If an injury fits the definition of “minor” in the new law passed by the NDP, then compensation is capped or limited to a maximum $5,500.00 for pain and suffering.
Whether your injury is defined as “minor” will depend on a diagnosis of your injuries and whether there has been a serious impairment or incapacity to your ability to work, attend school, attend training or to your activities of daily living. If you are diagnosed with an injury within the “prescribed” list of injuries, then your injury will be considered minor if there is no serious impairment or incapacity even if your injury is permanent and lifelong. If you are diagnosed with an injury that is not included in the list of “prescribed” injuries, then your injury will not be considered minor.
The prescribed list of injuries which the NDP considers “minor” include concussions, soft tissue injuries, psychological injuries and pain syndromes.
It is estimated that this new minor injury cap applies to 80% of all claims.
It is in ICBC’s best interests to label as many injuries as minor and subject to the minor injury cap limiting damages for pain and suffering to a maximum $5,500.00. This is because it will save ICBC from properly compensating injured claimants fairly and reasonably according to law.
It is also in ICBC’s best interests to settle cases as early as possible before the full extent of an injury is understood. Early settlement benefits ICBC because it often takes several months or even years to fully understand the true nature of an injury. This is often for a few reasons. Family doctors typically will not make any referrals to imaging (MRIs) or to specialists (neurologists, concussion clinics, physical medicine doctors and psychiatrists) until much later after a motor vehicle accident. This is because often doctors want to see how a person recovers with time and rehabilitation before making these referrals. There are also extended wait times for referrals which add to delays.
If you settle with ICBC early for the minor injury cap and before the extent of your injuries are understood, then there is no way to re-open your claim except in very exceptional circumstances.
If you are told by ICBC that your injury is minor, the best thing you can do is speak to a personal injury lawyer before you settle. This will allow you an opportunity to understand whether or not your injury truly meets the definition of minor and to learn about your rights to compensation and to challenge ICBC’s decision, if necessary.
The experienced lawyers at Holness and Small Law Group are pleased to offer a free initial consultation. Contact us today to learn more about your rights.
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