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Q

What is the rule for making a claim for pain and suffering in Ontario, Canada? Is there a threshold?


A

In Ontario, Canada a lawsuit for pain and suffering is allowed in some situations and yes, there is a threshold of injuries that must be surpassed in order to seek damages for pain and suffering.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) in Ontario if you are injured in a car accident, compensation for injuries may be claimed from your own insurance company, regardless of fault, from a pre-determined set of no-fault benefits.

In addition, should your injuries be severe enough to have met or exceeded a certain level of seriousness known as the "threshold," it may be possible to seek further compensation by suing the at-fault driver or owner for pain and suffering. In most cases, such claims would involve two different insurance companies - one for the Accident Benefits claim and another for the lawsuit.

So under certain circumstances, legislation in Ontario allows innocent victims of vehicle accidents to sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering and loss of income and future earnings, when the victim's Accident Benefits coverage is insufficient.

A pain and suffering lawsuit is allowed only if the injuries have exceeded the threshold. This in general means that the injured person dies or sustains "permanent and serious" disfigurement and/or impairment of important physical, mental or psychological function. The court is directed to assess damages and then to deduct $30,000 ($15,000 for a Family Law Act claim).

The Automobile Insurance Rate Stabilization Act of 2003 increased the deductibles which apply to awards for pain and suffering from $15,000 to $30,000, and from $7,500 to $15,000 for Family Law Act awards.

Also, an injured person may sue for 80 percent of net income loss before trial, 10 percent of gross after trial and also for medical, rehabilitation and related costs when the injury is catastrophic.

With auto insurance secured in Ontario your Accident Benefits coverages are portable throughout Canada and the USA. The restriction of being able to pursue a lawsuit, only if injuries exceed the threshold, does not apply to accidents outside Ontario. The law that applies is the law of the jurisdiction where the accident occurred.

Your Canadian insurance agent or a lawyer should be able to give you more information on specific rules of a pain and suffering lawsuit and if you were injured if you have surpassed the threshold for going after pain and suffering in court.

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