Personal injury lawyers across Ontario cried foul in 2016 when accident benefits available to catastrophically injured patients were slashed from $2-million to $1-million. The latest provincial budget, released April 11, pledges a “return to the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident.” Stakeholders have embraced the announcement, but maintain concerns regarding accident victims’ future wellbeing.
“I think the $2 million restoration would be applauded by most people who practice in personal injury law,” Federation of Ontario Law Associations chairman Mike Winward told Law Times. “Just about anybody who has had a catastrophic case since the limit went down would tell you it’s not sufficient. The $2 million impacts, in the most positive way, the people who have the most serious injuries in car accidents. It impacts them tremendously. The impact to the lawyers is, it certainly allows us to serve our clients better because we have far more funding to get the services and goods that they need.”
For individuals with serious, life-changing brain or spinal cord injuries, the $1-million accident benefits limit that has prevailed since June 2016 often proved woefully insufficient. When an injury victim requires home renovations, attendant care, prolonged medical therapy, and other services, $1-million can be exhausted quickly.
However, personal injury lawyers will have to learn more about the Progressive Conservative government’s policies before fully celebrating the new budget. For example, will the province restore the pre-2016 definition of a catastrophic injury, which was dramatically narrowed under the previous government? And will the $2-million in benefits once again be delivered in separate, $1-million parcels?
The provincial budget also announced a review of contingency fees, stating that the government will “work with the Law Society of Ontario to make contingency fee agreements more transparent for injured claimants who choose to hire a lawyer.”
Increased transparency is in every client and personal injury lawyer’s best interest; however, contingency fees are crucial to ensuring access to justice for Ontarians, and law firms will want assurance that they can continue to offer these agreements.
If you or a member of your family has been catastrophically injured in an accident, the Ontario Government’s recent budget should be met with relief. The restoration of the $2-million default benefits limit could mean the difference between a full, successful recovery and one which is stunted by insufficient funding.
For more information about how Will Davidson LLP can help, contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers will help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you pursue compensation.