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Friday, November 17, 2017

 
 
 

 
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Posts Tagged ‘medical’

Financial Post article on Accidental Death Insurance quotes Michael Smitiuch

Smitiuch Injury Law’s Principal, Michael Smitiuch, was interviewed and quoted in an article on accidental death insurance in the Financial Post.

You can read the article by clicking here.

Medical and Legal Communities Speak Out Against Proposed Changes to “Catastrophic” Definition

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) and Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers has launched a massive media campaign against proposed changes to the definition of a catastrophic impairment for victims of motor vehicle accidents.

The changes being considered, already posted on our blog (you can access this blog article by clicking here), would significantly reduce the number of accident victims with serious injuries from having their claims deemed as catastrophic.

For example, a paraplegic who is able walk just a short distance would not be deemed catastrophic, even though their medical and rehabilitation needs would be very significant.  Under the proposed changes, these individuals would have to pay for any treatment beyond the non-catastrophic medical and rehabilitation benefits limit of $50,000.00.  Most rehabilitation services are not covered under OHIP.

If an individual’s injuries are deemed “catastrophic” their accident limits change as follows:

  • Medical and Rehabilitation benefits increase from $50,000.00 over 10 years to $1,000,000.00 over a lifetime
  • Attendant Care benefits increase from $36,000.00 over two years (to a maximum of $3,000.00 per month) to $1,000,000.00 over a lifetime (to a maximum of $6,000.00 per month)
  • The right to the services of a case manager to help coordinate their medical and rehabilitation needs
  • Housekeeping and Home Maintenance benefits (available for non-catastrophically injured victims, but only if optional benefits were purchased under their insurance policy)

The advertisement will run in major newspapers across Ontario over the course of this week and the next.

Please click on the link below to see the advertisement.

Catastrophic Injuries Media Campaign Ad

These changes would be in addition to the massive cutbacks to accident benefits implemented in September 2010.  Auto insurers are currently reporting significant profit margins.

We encourage all concerned individuals to contact their local Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) immediately to express their concerns with these proposed changes.

State Farm to pay $23,000.00 Special Award for Unreasonably Withholding IRB’s

NOTE: This decision was overturned on appeal on October 1, 2012

In the decision Marcia Henry and State Farm Automobile Insurance Company [FSCO A09-000213] FSCO Arbitrator Denise Ashby ordered the insurer to pay a claimant’s income replacement benefits (IRB) with interest. The insurer was also ordered to pay a special award of $23,000.00 for unreasonably withholding the benefit.

Marcia Henry was a full-time emergency triage nurse in a hospital. The medical experts identified that she was only capable of engaging in sedentary work. Despite that, State Farm terminated her income replacement benefits prior to the 104-week mark, taking the position that she did not suffer a substantial inability to perform the essential tasks of her pre-accident work.

The Arbitrator also considered Ms. Henry’s entitlement to IRB’s after the 104-week mark, when the eligibility criteria changes to having to suffer a complete inability to engage in any employment for which she is reasonably suited, based on education, training and experience.

Although Ms. Henry took courses to upgrade her resume following the accident, it was determined that she still remained competitively unemployable when compared to her pre-accident job. The Arbitrator noted that, “It is unrealistic to believe that a woman of Ms. Henry’s age, disability and expected level of income would be hired over similarly educated, healthy and younger candidates who would likely have lower salary expectations.”

The Arbitrator went on to state that,

The accident occurred in February 2007. For the majority of her studies Ms. Henry was not engaged in employment and was able to work at her own pace. Notwithstanding this flexibility, it took four years to complete her degree. While Ms. Henry’s extensive experience and academic success might appear to make her an attractive candidate for employment as a nursing or public health instructor, her lack of teaching experience and accommodation requirements negate this. I accept that Ms. Henry enrolled in post-graduate studies as part of a career plan which would have seen her transition from the physically demanding role of emergency department nurse to a more sedentary role in public health. However, the injuries sustained in the accident prevented her from implementing her plan. Therefore, I find that Ms. Henry is entitled to post-104 week income replacement benefits.

With regard to a special award, the Arbitrator made the following comments:

State Farm stubbornly held to the opinion of its medical assessments of 2007 that Ms. Henry was not substantially disabled. Notwithstanding there was compelling evidence that Ms.
Henry continued to require significant medical intervention including shoulder surgery in June 2009.

An insurer has a continuing obligation to adjust a claim. State Farm failed to meaningfully revisit its opinion as the 104 week period elapsed and Ms. Henry had not returned to work.

I find that State Farm unreasonably withheld income replacement benefits from Ms. Henry and as a consequence she is entitled to a special award. As State Farm essentially abdicated its responsibility to adjust the file in respect of the post-104 week period, the award should be at the higher end of that available.

The full decision can be read by clicking below.

Henry and State Farm.

Ontario Court of Appeal: Desbiens Stands

The Ontario Court of Appeal has reversed the decision of Kusnierz v. Economcial Insurance.

In the Kusnierz v. Economical Insurance decision, Justice Lauwers had determined that it was not permissible to assign percentage ratings in respect of psychological impairments under 2 (1.1)(g) of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) and combine them with percentage ratings in respect of Kusnierz’s physical impairments under Clause 2(1.1)(f) of the SABS for the purposes of determining whether an individual was catastrophically impaired.

Justice Lawers reviewed the earlier decision of Justice Spiegel in Desbiens v. Mordini but respectfully came to a different conclusion.  Justice Lauwers did not review any of the FSCO decisions on the issue.

This means that both physical and psychological impairment percentage ratings can be combined when determining a catastrophic impairment.

Toronto Star: Fight fraud, but not at the expense of legitimate claimants

The Toronto Star has published an article about the need to find balance between fighting fradulent accident benefits claims and providing necessary goods and services for legitimaely injured clients.

You can read this article by clicking here.

Are you in the MIG? Maybe not.

Claims Canada Magazine is reporting that more than 50 percent of all claims in Ontario are currently falling under the Minor Injury Group (MIG). The article acknowledges that insurance companies are “holding their breath” to see how arbitration and judicial decisions will interpret the new regulations as to what is and is not considered a “minor injury”.

Interestingly, the question still remains open as to whether or not individuals who were injured after September 1, 2010 but prior to their policy renewal date can be placed within the MIG category and, more importantly, the $3,500.00 limit for medical and rehabilitation benefits, as this is based on a bulletin from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). A bulletin is not law.

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