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Changes to Accident Benefits Means Reduction in Coverage for Ontario Drivers
Do you know about the changes to accident benefits? When accidents happen, we expect that our health care system will be there to provide only the best care to see us through, but what about all of the other expenses that are not covered under the Ontario Healthcare System? Few of us stop to consider who will pay for replacement income if we cannot work, childcare as we recuperate, rehabilitation and home maintenance? Are these expenses automatically covered by our insurance policies? Yes, they are and they fall under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.
New Changes to Accident Benefits: Will you be covered?
Statutory Accident Benefits apply to anyone involved in a car accident, bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian & car accident and any other type of motor vehicle accident. These benefits fall under the Insurance Act of Ontario and apply to:
- Income Replacement Benefits
- Non-Earner Benefits
- Caregiver Benefits
- Housekeeping and Home Maintenance Benefits
- Attendant Care Benefits
- Medical and Rehabilitation Benefits
Will you have enough coverage?
On June 1, 2016, the changes to accident benefits and coverage in standard auto insurance policies was implemented to help make insurance more affordable. Some claim amounts were reduced and some options for increased coverage were eliminated or changed.
This is an overview of the changes to accident benefits.
- Medical & Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits have been combined into one category.
- Persons with catastrophic injuries may be entitled to a maximum combined benefit of up to $1,000,000 over their lifetime. This has been reduced from $2,000,000.
- Persons with non-catastrophic injuries may be entitled to a maximum combined benefit of up to $65,000 over 5 years reduced from $50,000 over 10 years for Medical, Rehabilitation and $36,000 for Attendant Care over 2 years.
- Persons with minor injuries may be entitled to a maximum benefit of $3,500. The claim period has been reduced from 10 years to 5 years.
In order to meet the definition of catastrophic for car accident cases in Ontario, a licensed doctor must complete and submit an OCF-19 form. This form is called an Application for Determination of Catastrophic Impairment. Given that the Statutory Accident Benefit amount vary greatly depending on which category the victim may fall under, it is important to learn more about the difference between catastrophic injury accident benefits and non-catastrophic injury accident benefits .
Should you purchase additional coverage?
In addition to these changes came the opportunity to purchase Optional Benefits for Medical, Rehabilitation and Attendant Care. You may want to purchase optional benefits to increase coverage levels, but first take time to understand your existing plan and impact the of the new changes.
- Read your policy and compare it to the new policy to see what changes have been made. If you have benefits from your employer or another policy, you may already have some level of coverage for some or all of the changes made. You should consider these benefits as you review your coverage options.
- Understand your policy. Call your insurance representative and ask questions, or do some additional reading, to make sure you understand your insurance and what your coverage means. Make sure you know what options are available to increase or purchase other benefits, or to reduce premiums by increasing deductibles or taking advantage of discounts.
- Shop around. There are many insurance companies competing on price and service in Ontario, and you should make sure that you compare at least three quotes for the same coverage before making a decision.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it’s important you get the information you need. Ontario Accident Benefits are your benefits and benefits you are most likely entitled to. If you are unsure of your rights or what benefits you are entitled to, contact our personal injury lawyers and we will be happy to provide you with the information you need to get the benefits you deserve.
Teen driver safety is so very important. As Ottawa injury lawyers, we meet with families regularly who have lost a teen in an accident. Sadly, teen drivers are the most at risk drivers in our country. Inexperience, coupled with immaturity, can result in not knowing how to react or even risk taking behaviours like speeding, distracted driving, drug and alcohol use and not wearing a seatbelt. All of these behaviours can lead to an increased accident rate among teens. The Ontario Provincial Police report that teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
National Teen Driver Safety Week aims to get the word out about safe driving to parents and teens encouraging them to start talking about the dangers. Also parents need to lead by example. Specifically, parents should talk to their teens about what is known as the “5 to Drive” or the five most common teen safety driving issues.
Speeding Drugs or alcohol
Driving and riding without a seatbelt
Using a cell phone or
Texting while driving
Talk to your teens about accidents and how to stay safe
During National Teen Driver Safety Week, our Ottawa injury lawyers urge you to take the opportunity to talk with teenagers about these issues and remind them to take a stand for safe driving even when not behind the wheel. That means speaking out if you are in a car with someone who is texting while driving, making sure not to distract the driver and calling home for a ride home if another teen driver is unsafe.
This year it is particularly important to talk to teens about distracted driving as the incidents of distraction are clearly on the rise. Approximately 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers younger than 20*.
Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Let us all do our part to ensure that all teen drivers . Our Ottawa injury lawyers want you to #GETHOMESAFE.
*Ontario Provincial Police
We have all heard and read the distributing statistics on the dangers of distracted driving and our Ottawa injury lawyers want to remind you of some of the most common causes of distracted driving. Last month, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that distracted driving is now responsible for twice as many deaths as impaired driving. This year, they have investigated 38 on-road death accidents involving distracted driving – almost twice as many as those caused by impaired drivers, making distracted driving accidents the number one killer on our roads. Since 2009, it has been blamed for more than 600 accidents resulting in deaths on OPP-patrolled roads.
Accidents and Distracted Driving
There are several ways a person can be considered distracted while driving. Drivers are distracted when they have their eyes off the road, mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel. Using a cell phone, especially to send a text message, does all three of these at once which is one of the reasons why it is so dangerous. All 10 provinces have adopted laws to stop texting while driving, with fines ranging from $80 to $1,200 and five demerit points (*CAA). Think you won’t get caught because you have your phone in your lap? Gatineau police officers are now riding buses this month as part of a road safety blitz targeting drivers who are texting or on social media.
Social Media and Accidents
Social media use on smartphones has also become a serious concern with apps like Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. While these are obviously extremely dangerous distractions, others are less obvious. Texting, eating or drinking, grooming, using a GPS and adjusting the radio are now all considered forms of distracted driving. We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves, our passengers and other drivers safe on the road. Be aware of distracted driving, don’t be a passenger in a car where the driver is distracted and don’t be tempted to take your mind off the road, your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road.
Drive safely Ottawa !
Seatbelt accidents are no joke. Believe it or not, there was a time when seatbelts and child car seats were not mandatory in Ontario. The seatbelt was invented in 1959, but mandatory seatbelt use did not become law in Ontario until 1976. Since then, thousands of lives have been saved and today more than 92 per cent of all people wear a seatbelt in Ontario. ( www.allontario.ca)
Wearing a seatbelt is one of the most important ways for drivers and passengers to protect themselves. In fact, the chances of surviving a an accident increase dramatically when a seatbelt is worn properly. In case of an accident, seatbelts reduce the risk of passengers striking the interior of the vehicle, colliding with other passengers in the vehicle or being fully ejected from the vehicle. As Ottawa injury lawyers, we read accident reports daily and seatbelts accidents are an integral part of most reports. Click here to read some of our accident cases involving seatbelts accidents. A driver who is not wearing a seatbelt is more than 40 times more likely to be killed in a crash than one who is properly buckled up. (Ministry of Transportation)
Seatbelt accidents laws in Ontario
All Ontario motor vehicle drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt that is properly adjusted and securely fastened. In addition, the driver of the car is also responsible to make sure that children who are not old enough to wear a seatbelt are secured in a child car seat or booster seat.
Air Bags and Accidents
Air bags do not take the place of a seatbelt. They won’t prevent the driver or passengers from being thrown out of the car. Airbags can injure children.
Seatbelt Accidents in Ontario: Fines and Demerit Points
Drivers can face a fine if he/she, or anyone in the vehicle under age 16, is not wearing a seatbelt or secured in a proper child seat. The safety of passengers is the driver’s responsibility. Fines range from $240 to $1,000 and drivers will receive two demerit points. A driver can also be fined for having a broken seatbelt, even if it is not being used when they are stopped by police.
Passengers who are 16 years old or older are responsible for buckling up themselves. If they appear to be at least 16 years old, police officers can ask you for their name, address and date of birth. Passengers over 16 will face a fine if they are not using or wearing a seatbelt properly.
Seatbelt Accidents and the Back Seat
While they’re not required to sit in the back seat, research has shown that children under age 13 are safest in the back seat away from active airbags. However, there is an exception. If the vehicle does not have back seat, children can sit in the front seat only if there is no active airbag or the air bag can be switched off.
Seatbelt Accidents Safety Do’s and Don’ts
- wear your seatbelt so that it crosses your chest and lower hips. These areas of the body are better able to resist the force of a crash.
- make sure you have one working seatbelt for every person in your vehicle.
- wear any part of your seatbelt twisted. A twisted seatbelt won’t spread the force of a crash across your body to protect you properly.
- put the shoulder strap under your arm or behind your back.
Our Ottawa injury lawyers wish you safe travels and don’t forget to buckle up !