Since 1990, Ontarians have had access to extensive Statutory
Accident Benefits payable by their own motor vehicle insurers
following a motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault. Benefits
have been payable for many goods and services required as a result
of a motor vehicle accident, including, most recently, Medical and
Rehabilitation Benefits, Attendant Care, Non-Earner Benefits, and
Income Replacement Benefits.
Although Ontarians have had the concurrent, limited right to sue
in tort, the Statutory Accident Benefits regime has played an
important role. Most notably, tort defendants have received credit
for benefits paid by the accident benefit carrier. However, as of
June 1, 2016, the Statutory Accident Benefits regime has again
undergone significant overhaul.
The availability of Non-Earner Benefits have changed
dramatically. Immediately prior to the amendments, Non-Earner
Benefits were payable for life to claimants who suffered a complete
inability to carry on a normal life as a result of a motor vehicle
accident in the base amount of $185 per week, subject to continuing
entitlement. For students or recent graduates, the Non-Earner
Benefit increased to $320 per week at 104 weeks post-accident.
Non-Earner Benefits were payable to claimants beginning at age
With the June 1, 2016 amendments, Non-Earner Benefits are now
only payable for a total of 104 weeks to claimants at least 18
years old. The benefit is $185 per week, regardless of educational
status at the time of the accident.
The availability of Medical and Rehabilitation and Attendant
Care Benefits have also changed dramatically. There are effectively
three injury classifications, which lead to tiers of coverage:
minor injuries, non-catastrophic injuries, and catastrophic
injuries. In the amendments, the definition and limits of
catastrophic impairment have been updated to reflect more recent
medical standards. It remains unknown whether the changes will
result in more or fewer claimants being accepted as
catastrophically impaired. However, it is anticipated that fewer
claimants will be able to satisfy these higher thresholds for
Prior to the amendments, for non-catastrophic injuries,
claimants had access to $50,000 in Medical and Rehabilitation
Benefits, payable for up to 10 years post-accident. Attendant Care
Benefits were also payable for up to 104 weeks post-accident at a
maximum of $3,000 per month, subject to a maximum limit of
For minor injuries, with the amendments, the limits for Medical
and Rehabilitation Benefits have not changed; it remains $3,500.
Attendant Care Benefits are still not payable for minor
However, the duration and monetary limits of Medical and
Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits have been reduced to a
total combined limit of $65,000, payable for up to five years
For catastrophic injuries, prior to the amendments, Medical and
Rehabilitation Benefits and Attendant Care Benefits were payable
for life, each to a maximum limit of $1,000,000. Now, the limits
for Medical and Rehabilitation and Attendant Care Benefits have
been combined for catastrophic injuries, for a total limit of
Given the reduction in coverage under the Statutory Accident
Benefits regime, the tort regime will play a larger role going
forward. As the limits for Medical and Rehabilitation and Attendant
Care Benefits have been reduced, the exposure for tort claims will
likely rise accordingly.
(Written for BarTalk, a magazine published by the British
Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association)
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