The minor injury cap is a law that caps compensation at $5,200 for pain and suffering arising from “minor injuries” injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.
There is disagreement about what is and is not a minor injury. Generally, a minor injury includes soft tissue injuries, whiplash injuries, and sprains and strains that do not become chronic in nature.
At present, there are a number of injuries that are not considered minor, such as neurological injuries, concussions, broken bones, damaged teeth, certain psychological injuries, certain tmj injuries, among others. Further, soft tissue injuries that persist and become chronic are not considered by the Courts in Alberta to be minor injuries.
Alberta’s minor injury cap was implemented in 2004, following an extensive lobbying campaign by the insurance industry. The insurance lobby convinced the government that unless a minor injury cap was implemented, the insurance industry would fall into financial ruin and leave the province. In truth, the insurance industry was thriving in Alberta.
The minor injury cap has resulted in a significant amount of regulation, uncertainty, and unfairness for individual Albertans. It has also resulted in increased profits for insurance companies at the expense of injured Albertans.
The minor injury cap is more than a law: it is a complex entanglement of legislation, regulation, court decisions, and insurance practices. The insurance industry has interpreted and applied the minor injury laws broadly, arbitrarily and unfairly in an effort to pay injury victims less than what they are legally entitled to. The result is that many individual Albertans, particularly the most vulnerable, have been deprived of their natural rights to compensation for their injuries. This has resulted in many injured Albertans to settle claims for less than they deserve, or to retain lawyers and fight legal battles before the courts to achieve fair compensation for their injuries.
The FAIR campaign is a coalition of Albertans who oppose ongoing efforts by the insurance lobby to expand the minor injury cap.
The expansion of the minor injury cap should be avoided because it would further erode the compensatory rights of individual Albertans for the financial benefit of insurance companies. Alberta’s auto insurance industry is healthy, and auto insurers do not need a government bailout. There are currently over 65 auto insurers that are operating competitively in the province. Injury claims and payouts are actually down in recent years and insurance premiums have only increased 4% since 2004; an increase far less than inflation.
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