As most of our readers are already aware, there have been significant changes to the laws governing automobile accident insurance claims in Ontario. Many of these changes came into effect October 1, 2003. During the consultation process Thomson, Rogers has made submissions to the Conservatives and resisted those changes that are detrimental to the welfare of persons injured in auto accidents.
Since our last issue, Thomson, Rogers has continued efforts to promote the interest of people with injuries caused by auto accidents before Government and opposition MPP’s. On July 10, 2003, the Conservatives and the Liberals released “White Papers” setting out their respective plans for changes to the tort and accident benefit components of the automobile insurance law. The White Papers can be found on our website.
Our efforts have included:
- On July 10th, Thomson, Rogers met with and made submissions to the Minister of Finance concerning the Tory White Paper.
- Thomson, Rogers also made submissions on July 10th, about the Liberal White Paper to the Liberals at the first Liberal Auto Insurance Hearing.
- A Thomson, Rogers representative was appointed by the Minister of Finance to the Superintendant of Auto Insurance’s Auto Reforms Steering Committee on July 16th, to advocate to the Superintendant on behalf of injured persons.
- On July 23rd, a Thomson, Rogers representative appeared before the Superintendant of Insurance’s Committee Reviewing the DAC process.
- On July 30th, Thomson, Rogers representatives appeared before then M.P.P. Sampson to comment on the Tory White Paper.
- Also on July 30th, a Thomson, Rogers representative met with Senior Policy Advisors in the Office of the Premier to express concern about changes encroaching on the rights of persons injured in auto accidents.
- On August 19th, a Thomson, Rogers respresentative met with Ministry of Finance representatives concerning further proposed changes to the verbal threshold to limit the right to sue for persons injured in auto accidents.
- On September 10th, Thomson, Rogers representatives met with Liberal M.P.P. Smitherman to discuss needed auto insurance reform initiatives for tort and accident benefits.
- Also on September 10th, Thomson, Rogers representatives met with the Minister of Finance, requesting that any further contemplated changes to the auto insurance legislation and regulations be delayed until following the election to allow some consultation and further consideration.
- On September 16th, Thomson, Rogers representatives met with M.P.P. Bryant and Liberal candidate Davidson, to discuss auto insurance reform.
- On September 22nd, Thomson, Rogers representatives met with Liberal M.P.P.s Smitherman, Bryant and Sorbara to discuss auto insurance reform.
Thomson, Rogers is continuing its efforts with the new Liberal Government.
The changes contained in the new legislation are numerous and complex. Inevitably, they will lead to frustration and confusion as medical and legal practitioners attempt to familiarize themselves with the new legislation. During this period, it is particularly important to maintain effective channels of communication in order to minimize treatment delays to injured persons. In addition to our newsletter and web site, Thomson, Rogers continues to be involved in workshops and conferences across the Province that are designed to provide health care professionals with information about the changes and identify strategies to effectively cope with the new procedures. We suggest that you contact our firm if you or your organization is interested in organizing such an event.
In this issue of the Accident Benefit Reporter, we have attempted to summarize the major changes as they pertain to the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), the definition of Catastrophic Impairments and changes with respect to an injured party’s Tort claim.
It is too soon to know what additional changes to the auto insurance legislation may be brought about as a result of the recent change in the Provincial government. Liberal Party representatives had previously indicated that they would be prepared to roll back increased deductibles for pain and suffering awards. They have also expressed dissatisfaction with the current DAC system and have stated that they are prepared to “revisit the fee schedule for health care providers’ fees.” It is our intention to remain involved in further consultations on these important issues and to keep you informed of further changes as soon as we become aware of them.