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When is a Brain Injury a Catastrophic Injury After an Ontario Car Accident?

When most people hear that someone has a brain injury, they automatically assume that the person suffered a catastrophic injury because brain injuries can be permanent and forever change the injured person's life.

However, in the context of motor vehicle accidents in Kingston, Ottawa or Whitby, a brain injury most people would consider "catastrophic" may not meet the definition of catastrophic pursuant to the law. Only certain types of traumatic brain injury are considered catastrophic.

Why does it matter if a brain injury is catastrophic or non-catastrophic? It means the difference of the injured driver, passenger or pedestrian receiving a maximum of $50,000 in accident benefits or a maximum of $1,000,000 in accident benefits.

Basic Ontario Auto Accident & Insurance Law

In Ontario, if insured drivers, passengers or pedestrians are injured in car or truck accidents, they are eligible to receive accident benefits from their own auto insurance companies. One of the crucial benefits is the medical and rehabilitation benefit, which pays for all reasonable and necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses not covered by a government health plan or a private health plan.

Depending on the severity of the injuries and the classes of injury defined by the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), insured drivers, passengers and pedestrians receive different amounts of medical and rehabilitation benefits:

  1. minor injury - up to $3,500,
  2. non-minor injury - up to $50,000, and
  3. catastrophic injury - up to $1,000,000.

Pursuant to Ontario law, section 3(2)(d) of the SABS defines a brain injury/impairment as catastrophic if it results in:

(i) a score of 9 or less on the Glasgow Coma Scale, as published in Jennett, B. and Teasdale, G.,Management of Head Injuries, Contemporary Neurology Series, Volume 20, F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, 1981, according to a test administered within a reasonable period of time after the accident by a person trained for that purpose, or
(ii) a score of 2 (vegetative) or 3 (severe disability) on the Glasgow Outcome Scale, as published in Jennet, B. and Bond, M., Assessment of Outcome After Severe Brain Damage, Lancet i:480, 1975, according to a test administered more than six months after the accident by a person trained for that purpose.

It is important to note that only one of above has to be satisfied in order for a victim to have a catastrophic brain injury as that term is defined by the law.

Click here to part 2 of the article which discusses these above 2 scales used to determine catastrophic brain injuries and contested issues with the Glasgow Coma Scale.

Help After an Ontario Car or Truck Accident

If you of your loved one sustained a brain injury as a result of a car accident, call the lawyers at Bergeron Clifford to schedule a FREE consultation. The personal injury lawyers will answer all of your questions and concerns and help you or your loved receive appropriate compensation in the shortest amount of time. 866-384-5886

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“From my first meeting with Mr. Bergeron and Mr. Clifford I was reassured, made comfortable with the legal processes involved and well looked after. Mr. Bergeron and Law Clerk, Craig Cameron were always available to answer questions and guide me through the legal procedure. I was fortunate to be able to work with a wonderful lawyer, whose abilities I have extreme confidence in.” – S.M.

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