Sometimes, our personal injury lawyers think that car accident law has been purposely designed just to trip people up.
How else can you explain:
a) $36,920 deductible for a pain and suffering award in a car accident claim
b) $73,840 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 2 car accidents
c) $110,760 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 3 car accidents!
d) these deductibles increase year after year with inflation
e) serious and permanent threshold for pain and suffering claims which cannot be shared with the jury at trial
f) the deductibles cannot be shared with the jury at trial either
The purpose of car insurance and accident benefits is consumer protection legislation. This seems like a stretch goal (pardon the Kathleen Wynnism) considering the way the law actually works, and how the law has evolved such that the scales of justice are tipped so far in favour of insurers, it makes it almost miraculous if a Plaintiff succeeds at trial.
This theme of insurance law as consumer protection legislation was highlighted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the decision of Smith v. Co-operators General Insurance Co.,  2 SCR 129, 2002 SCC 30 (CanLII) If you haven’t read the case, it’s worth a read. An oldie, but a goody!
Here, the Supreme Court stated:
There is no dispute that one of the main objectives of insurance law is consumer protection, particularly in the field of automobile and home insurance. The Court of Appeal was unanimous on this point and the respondent does not contest it. In Insurance Law in Canada(loose-leaf ed.), vol. 1, Professor Craig Brown observed, “In one way or another, much of insurance law has as an objective the protection of customers”….
The Supreme Court goes on to add:
In my opinion, the insurer is required under s. 71 to inform the person of the dispute resolution process contained in ss. 279 to 283 of the Insurance Act in straightforward and clear language, directed towards an unsophisticated person. At a minimum, this should include a description of the most important points of the process, such as the right to seek mediation, the right to arbitrate or litigate if mediation fails, that mediation must be attempted before resorting to arbitration or litigation and the relevant time limits that govern the entire process. Without this basic information, it cannot be said that a valid refusal has been given.
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