No two motor vehicle accidents, or victims, are alike. Each accident presents challenges for those involved. One of the most common injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents are “soft tissue” injuries. Soft tissue injuries are also common in other types of accidents such as slip and fall accidents and the severity can vary widely. For instance, some victims may recover quickly from a soft tissue injury while others will experience permanent disability.
Ontario treats soft tissue injuries in a particular way for the purposes of compensation, and your right to compensation will depend on the evidence you are able to provide to your insurer or the courts regarding the nature of your injuries.
What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue injuries are typically defined as bruises, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, strains, or stress injuries. Whiplash, an injury commonly associated with motor vehicle accidents, also qualifies as a soft tissue injury.
The symptoms of a soft tissue injury range from pain, joint instability, and limited range of motion to less obvious issues, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sleeplessness. When soft tissue injuries become persistent, psychological symptoms (such as depression or anxiety) may also appear.
How do I Establish the Existence of a Soft Tissue Injury?
Depending on the nature of the injury, it can be difficult to prove to an insurer or the courts. Like chronic pain, which we discussed in a previous blog post, soft tissue injuries do not always carry “hard evidence” (like the presence of a fracture on an x-ray). Therefore, the victim may have to rely on their medical records (specifically, what they have told their doctor about their injury and what treatments their doctor has recommended) to prove the existence and duration of their injuries.
Claimants suffering from soft tissue injuries should prioritize their well-being, above all else. Seek treatment for your injuries and follow your healthcare provider’s treatment recommendations. This step will not only aid in your recovery but will also help to document the evolution of your condition if you bring a claim or seek disability benefits. You should also track your symptoms, feelings, and recovery using a “pain diary”. Take regular and detailed notes regarding how you are feeling, the severity of your pain, and its impact on your day-to-day activities.
Am I Entitled to Compensation?
The majority of soft tissue claims submitted in Ontario are classified as “minor” injuries, for which claims are capped at $3,500. However, in certain circumstances, you may be entitled to further compensation for your injuries if it is deemed to be not minor (in other words, if the injuries are considered to be relatively serious and/or permanent). Again, this assessment requires compelling medical evidence from your doctor.
Determining what is or isn’t a “minor injury” for legal purposes can be complicated and requires evidence from doctors and other healthcare providers. In some cases, it may also require expert assessments. Consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer to ensure you can put forward the best evidence for your claim and receive the best possible outcome.
If you are awarded compensation for your injuries, bear in mind that the amount you are awarded could be lowered by a statutory deductible amount. Non-pecuniary damages, which are damages for losses that are difficult to quantify, such as damages for pain and suffering or trauma, are subject to a deductible amount prescribed under s. 267.2 of Ontario’s Insurance Act, and the amount of the deductible changes from year to year. For 2021, the amount is $39,745.31. If non-pecuniary damages are assessed at $45,000, the injured party may actually only receive $5,254.69.
Experienced Long-Term Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay
Navigating life in the wake of an accident can be daunting. Soft tissue injury claims in particular can be especially challenging when it comes to obtaining compensation given the difficulty in obtaining objective evidence regarding the severity and duration of a victim’s injuries and determining what compensation you are entitled to. If you are suffering from a soft tissue injury, speak with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today for more information on your rights and entitlement to compensation or long-term disability benefits.
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, we have been representing injured clients for over 35 years. We will help you protect your rights and obtain the maximum possible settlement in the wake of an accident so that you can get the treatment you need and move on with your life. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with a member of our team.