FAQ: I was in a car accident in Ottawa. I read something about having to meet the threshold test in order to file a claim. Can you explain what the threshold test is in the context of car accidents?
Answer: Ontario car accident and insurance law is very complicated, and the threshold test is one of the most complicated laws.
There are 2 types of claims injured drivers can file after a car accident in Ottawa:
1. an accident benefits claim, and
2. a tort claim or lawsuit.
Accident Benefits Claim
Under Ontario law, injured drivers can receive certain benefits from their own auto insurance companies by filing accident benefit claims. Some of the benefits include:
These benefits are available to injured Ontario drivers after motor vehicle accidents.
Pursuant to Ontario's no-fault principle in the context of auto accidents, an injured driver's medical costs are not covered by the at-fault driver's auto insurance company. Rather, they are covered by his own auto insurance company, even though he was not at-fault.
When filing accident benefits claims, the threshold test has no impact on the injured driver's ability to file a claim.
Injured Ontario drivers only need to think about the threshold test if they are filing claims against the at-fault drivers. Even though injured drivers receive benefits from their own insurance companies, drivers are not compensated 100% for their losses. For example, income replacement benefits do not compensate an injured driver 100% of his lost wages. Therefore, the amount not covered by income replacement benefits can be recovered from the at-fault driver in a lawsuit.
Injured drivers/passengers can also make claims against at-fault drivers for other types of damages, such as pain and suffering. However, an injured driver can only recover financial compensation for pain and suffering if he meets a legal threshold, which requires the injuries to be serious and permanent.
In the context of auto accident lawsuits, Ontario law determines whether a given injury is permanent and serious. Put simply, injuries are serious if they affect daily life and activities. For instance, a driver may suffer a catastrophic orthopedic injury that prevents him from returning to his job as a contractor, which was physically demanding. Because he cannot return to his job, his life is affected. In addition, his injury must be permanent, i.e., affects him for the rest of his life. In this situation, he meets the legal threshold and can sue for pain and suffering, in addition to other damages.
An issue that often arises when assessing a pain and suffering damages claim in an Ontario auto accident lawsuit is the tort deductible. Under Ontario law, a $30,000 tort deductible applies if an injured driver recovers less than $100,000 in pain and suffering damages. If the recovery is in excess of $100,000, then the deductible does not apply.
As you can see, Ontario car accident law is very complicated. Feel free to call our office to schedule a FREEconsultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. 1-866-384-5886