The Government of New Brunswick has just announced draft regulations for consultation regarding the Minor Injury Cap for car accident victims in N.B. Consultations will be open for 30 days and proposed date for the changes to the law to become active is May 1st 2013.
Changes to the minor injury cap include the following items:
- Increase of the cap for Pain and Suffering to $7500, with cost-of-living adjustments. This was previously a fixed amount of $2500.
- A more restrictive definition of “minor injury”, meaning that fewer injuries will be considered “minor” and that fewer injury victims will be affected by the cap. The definition of what is a minor injury will be clearer.
What will be considered a Minor Injury?
The old law defined what was not a minor injury, leaving it unclear what exactly constituted a minor injury, but the amended version simplifies this by specifying whatis a minor injury – any of the following “that do not result in serious impairment or in permanent serious disfigurement“:
- a contusion;
- an abrasion;
- a laceration;
- a sprain;
- a strain; and
- a whiplash associated disorder.
Serious Impairment and Permanent Serious Disfigurement
“Serious Impairment” means an impairment that causes a “substantial inability” to perform the usual tasks of your job or education, despite efforts to accommodate you after your injury. It can also apply to your ability to do your everyday tasks.
“Serious disfigurement” is harder to define but generally applies to scarring that has a severe impact on your life, for example due to embarrassment. Since this can vary case-by-case, this decision is usually made by the courts for each injury victim.
“Permanent” means that to qualify as a serious impairment or disfigurement, your injuries must not be expected to improve or heal very much.
Pain and Suffering
As always, the cap only applies to the amount you can claim for pain and suffering – even if your claim is limited by the cap, you may still be entitled to more than $2500 or $7500 in compensation. Your claim for lost wages or medical costs, for example, would be over and above the claim for pain and suffering.
Overall these changes should make it clearer whether a person’s injuries fall under the cap; previous regulations were more vague and open to interpretation. These revisions are an improvement on the old minor injury cap and will be a positive change for New Brunswickers.
If the changes do become law on May 1st 2013, all accidents after that date will fall under the new regulations; however, all accidents between July 1st 2003 and April 30th 2013 will still fall under the old version of the N.B. minor injury cap.
Here is a link to the draft on gnb.ca (PDF)
Any questions about the cap or your insurance claim? Contact us for a free consultation.