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Serious accidents can cause catastrophic injuries that leave victims unable to provide for themselves and their families. When this happens, it’s imperative to have an experienced personal injury lawyer that is experienced with complex litigation, one who is organized, knowledgeable and is willing to take your case to trial from the very start. Its important to achieve the highest settlement award possible. Your families future depends on it.
When serious accidents occur, the law must determine the extent of damage in terms of significant life change to the injured person. The most severe disabling conditions are handled under the legal definition of catastrophic impairment. In Ontario, the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) is an important document, which governs which serious injuries may be covered under this definition.
Originally a legal definition, the term catastrophic impairment has undergone changes in recent years. With input from various medical and scientific specialists, the goal is to create a fairer, more consistent and accurate evaluation, of catastrophic impairment for people who must deal with the far reaching effects of their injuries.
With a catastrophic injury, your lawyer will argue on the premise of fundamental questions that must be answered.
- Will the injured person be able to care for him or herself?
- How will they provide for and take care of their family?
- What does the future hold?
- What are the options for quality of life?
- What rehabilitative care is required and available?
- Who will pay for that care?
Common catastrophic injuries generally include:
- Serious spine injuries resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Loss of ambulation
- Traumatic brain injuries and brain impairment
- Permanent loss of a limb
- Due to the significant life changing effects of these injuries, accident benefits limits are larger for cases deemed as “Catastrophic Impairment”
- These can be the result of: accidents involving cars, motorcycles, fires, construction sites, the workplace or faulty products.
- Catastrophic injury victims often require extensive medical attention and rehabilitation procedures
- Many people suffering from these injuries have substantial care needs over a long period of time
- Ontario Regulation 34/10 to the Insurance Act came into effect on September 1, 2010, as well as other changes affecting Personal Injury Law in Ontario.
- Catastrophically Impaired claimants may access housekeeping benefits under s.23.
- The definition of “Catastrophic Impairment” has been amended to include single limb amputees; making $1 million dollar benefits possible to those with a single amputation, but only if the injury occurred after Sept. 1, 2010.
- Ontario law may provide up to $1 million for medical and rehabilitation care, and up to $1 million for attendant care, regardless of who is at fault.
- The definition includes the amputation or other impairment causing the total and permanent loss of use of one or both arms and one or both legs.
- The definition Includes the total loss of vision in both eyes
- A score of 9 or less on the Glasgow Coma Scale (The Glasgow Coma Scale is a series of responses used to determine extent of consciousness in cases of traumatic brain injury.)
- Any impairment or combination of impairments that results in a 55 percent or more impairment of the whole person
- Any impairment that results in a marked impairment (class 4) or extreme (class 5 impairment) due to mental or behavioral disorder as defined under American Medical Association guidelines.
In Ontario, a panel of experts is considering improvements that would continue to follow the “catastrophic impairment” definition under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), with input from the American Spinal Injury Association, the Extended Glasgow Coma Scale, regarding traumatic brain injuries, the GAF (assessment of function) for psychiatric disorders and the Spinal Cord Independence Measure for serious ambulation disorders. These changes would allow a more comprehensive legal definition informed by the medical aspects involved.