Albertan Stories

HEAR WHAT REAL ALBERTANS LIKE YOU HAVE ALREADY EXPERIENCED.

M.C.

My name is M.C..  In late April, 2018, I was in an accident when someone drove into the side of my van.  I’ve had pretty constant neck pain and stiffness since the accident, bad enough that it interfered with my practicum as a medical office assistant, and limiting my ability to work.  This has made things difficult, as I have three children to support.  I’ve been able to manage mainly because I’ve been going to physiotherapy since the accident.  It provides me with some relief so that I can get on with the other parts of my life.  My doctor and my physiotherapist agree that I’ve needed ongoing physiotherapy and they have told this to my insurance company.

COVID then came along, causing treatment facilities such as my physiotherapy clinic to stop seeing people.  At that point in time, I still had about two months left of disability insurance coverage left over with my automobile insurance company.  But I couldn’t attend for treatment because like many other businesses, the physiotherapy clinic suspended its services.  So I asked my insurance company if they would be able to extend my treatment benefits by an amount of time that was equal to the period the clinic remained closed during the pandemic.  They said no.  They stuck fast to the two year deadline for treatment benefits, even though COVID prevented me from getting the help I needed over the final two months of coverage.

I’m concerned that insurance companies are for-profit companies, and that my experience is just a small example of how they prefer to put their bottom line ahead of the well-being of the people they are supposed to insure.  I hope that our government will remember that a profit-driven insurance industry should never hold all the cards. It’s important that they remain accountable.

Liesa M.

I am writing with my concerns about the government considering no fault insurance.   I was rear ended 3 years ago with 4 passengers.  We have all had whiplash and changes to our health since then. My life was altered profoundly with a concussion and whiplash, jaw injury and severe pain.  I was unable to work and have worked less since then.  It has been a very difficult process to heal with many professionals supporting me such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, osteopath, massage therapist, medical doctor, psychologist, dentist, naturopath.   These expenses have been partially covered but the rest out of my pocket. Working less and incurring more expenses increases stress on top of the injury.  It is absolutely imperative that innocent people are supported while they heal and continue to heal or adapt to a new way of life.  My family has been impacted daily with my injuries.

Please understand that insurance must continue to support those who are truly injured. We need your voice to support us. Please speak up on this issue.

J.R.

My name is J.R.  On December 24, 2015 I was in a motor vehicle accident. I was hit from behind by someone driving too fast and too close for the conditions. After I pulled over, I had a moment of panic and I sat for a while to feel my stomach as I was about five months pregnant at the time. I was relieved when I felt the baby move, but all I wanted to do is go home. We exchanged information and I just wanted to go home. I remember after I left the accident I had a familiar feeling. My neck was sore, I had a terrible headache, but most of all I felt ‘out of it’. I told my husband what happened and that I needed to lie down. We talked about whether or not I should go to the hospital but I knew the baby was moving and I was just so, so tired. 

I knew when I woke up and the feeling of fogginess, inability to focus, feeling unable to connect with what as going on around me, that I had another concussion. My first concussion had been four years earlier and I hadn’t fully recovered, but I was better in so many ways. I was finally starting to regain some of the abilities that I had lost, and now… 

Life now, is hard. I spent years working on my career finding direction and discovering how to best apply my interests and talents. I finally discovered that I excelled at project management. I was organized and communicated well. I had a background in design and manufacturing controlled budgets of $56M, and now I can’t organize how to make simple phone calls to plan my medical appointments. I have lost abilities in concentration and three-dimensional thinking. I feel I no longer possess the skills that made me such a great project manager, and now I’m struggling to figure what I can I do. 

I haven’t been back to work since my accident. I have been home with my children trying to get well enough to go back to work, or school, or something, but I can’t seem to keep up with the bad days. I can only remember one good day in the past four years. I’m so tired of trying to seem mostly ‘normal’ that simple frustrations set me off and I can’t claw back control my emotions. I feel like I’m missing out on my life, my children’s lives. I feel I have everything I could possibly ask for, but I lack the ability to enjoy it. Suffering multiple brain injuries has me left with a fatigue I can never get enough sleep for, an anxiety I can’t escape from, and an apathy to my own life. A concussion can be life-impacting. My life was impacted.

Laurie W.

My name is Laurie W.  I am 37 years of age.  I work in an administrative capacity at an accounting firm in Edmonton.  In the summer of 2017, I was stopped in traffic on 170 Street in Edmonton when an uninsured driver traveling at a high rate of speed in a company truck slammed into the vehicle behind me, propelling that vehicle into the rear of my automobile, causing me to suffer multiple injuries including to my neck, back and jaw joints (TMJ dysfunction).  Over two years later, I continue to suffer from these injuries, despite diligently treating in accordance with the recommendations of my medical health practitioners.  My persistent and chronic, ongoing neck, back and TMJ pain continues to have a detrimental effect on my life at home, work and play.  I was shocked to hear last year that the previous Alberta government had added certain TMJ and psychological injuries to the list of “capped” injuries, and I am appalled to hear that lobbyists for the multi-billion dollar, multi-national insurance industry are attempting to convince our new Alberta government to add ordinary Albertans with injuries such as mine to the list of people no longer entitled to fair pain and suffering compensation from the wrongdoers who hurt them.  I trust that, unlike our immediate past government, our new provincial government will stand up for the rights of ordinary Albertans and reject the mean-spirited demands that the insurance lobbyists are making for yet further harmful regulations.

Carol W.

My name is Carol W. I was involved in a motor vehicle accident through no fault of my own.  I was initially diagnosed with a WADII, but my pain became very chronic. If a person’s injuries heal quickly, the ‘minor injury cap’ makes good sense.  However, if a person has chronic pain, I believe the person deserves compensation greater than that. A WADII classification only allows 21 treatments, so compensation would help pay for treatment in the future.  Being in a collision is not like winning the lottery. I would give anything to have my health rather than the compensation. It would be very sad if a person’s compensation was limited to only $5,202 for years of pain.

Rachelle L.

My name is Rachelle L. I am a 40 year-old mother of two kids, a lifetime Albertan and a former insurance adjuster. On December 11, 2018, I was driving eastbound on Anthony Henday Drive when I was rear-ended by a vehicle following too closely causing me to suffer from neck pain, back pain and headaches. In the 10 months since the accident, I have treated my ongoing injuries with medication and physiotherapy as recommended by my family doctor, but I remain in constant pain.

As a former insurance adjuster and with over a decade of experience working on motor vehicle accident bodily injury claims, I have long been well aware that thousands of Albertans each year are injured by careless motorists. With prompt and appropriate treatment, many recover within about 12 weeks in which case, quite frankly, compensation for pain and suffering in the $5,000.00 to $5,500.00 range is reasonable.

However, I am also well aware (now painfully so) that many other wrongfully injured Albertans suffer traumatic injuries in auto accidents that evolve into chronic pain conditions. I am one of those Albertans. Whether I eventually recover from these injuries or end up with permanent clinical impairment remains to be seen, but either way it’s common sense (and common law) that I deserve to be compensated for my pain by the negligent driver’s insurer at a figure well in excess of the minor injury cap, which was always intended only to apply to people suffering minor strains and sprains that healed relatively quickly, ie., within 90 days or so.

Stephanie M.

My name is Stephanie M.  I am a 28 year-old millwright residing in west Edmonton.  Last summer, I was driving northbound on Winterburn Road when a young man operating a big company cube van from the opposite direction made a sudden left turn directly across my path, causing a collision, my 1 year old son was in the back seat as well.  My numerous cuts and bruises from the accident healed relatively quickly, but well over a year later, I have been left with chronic jaw pain TMJ, neck pain, muscle tares that have not healed and back pain from a slipped disc in my spine, despite timely and comprehensive treatment I am still in chronic pain. Now I hear that lobbyists for the automobile insurance industry are asking officials in the Alberta government to regulate away the fair compensation rights of innocent individual Albertans who suffer chronic pain because of someone else’s careless driving.  I have faith that the current Alberta government is well aware that chronic pain is not a minor injury and that our government should protect vulnerable, “severely normal” Albertans like me from wrongdoers, rather than regulating further government intervention to protect wrongdoers and the companies that insure them from innocent victims like myself.

Lee-Ann W.

My name is Lee-Ann W. I’m a 28 year old hospital clerk. In the summer of 2016, I was the “meat in the sandwich” of a three vehicle rearender: the Ford F-150 behind us slammed into the back of the automobile in which I was a passenger, propelling our vehicle into the rear of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in front of us. I was rushed by ambulance to the hospital with a concussion as well as whiplash and various other soft tissue injuries. Over three years later and after all sorts of treatment, I still suffer from my accident injuries. Most recently I saw a chronic pain specialist who is referring me to an orthopedic specialist. The medical experts say I will never fully recover from the injuries I suffered in this collision. 

The whole point of insurance is that a community of millions (myself included) chips in some money in the form of premiums so that there is a pool of funds available to compensate the thousands of ordinary Albertans (me too, unfortunately) who are injured each year by negligent motorists. Apparently, insurance companies would rather continue to rake in premiums from consumers like me, but pocket that cash rather than having to fully compensate innocent injured Albertans for our pain and suffering — but that wouldn’t be fair, now would it?

Lewis Klar

Tort law expert, former AIRB member and Dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law

“Why would you want to penalize accident victims who have already been hurt? There is no reason to do that, except the myth that they have been taking advantage of the system, which I don’t think has been demonstrated.” 

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