If you have been injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle, you will probably hear the expression ‘getting over the threshold’.

When you make a claim for compensation for pain and suffering and a loss of enjoyment of life, you must show that you have a serious and permanent impairment.

The question is: do you have a serious and permanent impairment of an important bodily or psychological function which is as a result of the motor vehicle accident?

The answer, to a great extent, depends upon the impact the accident has had upon your personal activities and whether there is any end in sight to that impact.

One person’s injuries can be devastating while the same set of injuries may have far less of an impact on another person.

An example is often given of someone whose fingers are injured in an accident.  If that person loses flexibility in the fingers, it may not be anything more than an irritation or annoyance.  However, if the person earned a living by playing a musical instrument, the impact could be severe.

A person’s entire living situation needs to be explored, comparing the before and after picture, in order for a lawyer to give an opinion as to whether the impairment is serious to that individual.

Typically, it is necessary to examine the injured person’s life by looking at household chores, both inside and outside the residence.  For example, if the person’s responsibilities were to deal with snow clearing, gardening, grass cutting, etc., and the ability to do so is gone, or compromised, that may be a significant impairment.

What about recreational activities?  It is again the same exercise of looking closely at pre-accident and post-accident frequency and duration.

Certainly, if the injured person cannot return to work, this is a major impairment with respect to functioning.

What is ‘permanent’?  There is no legal definition, but we often talk about those people who have not returned to a pre-accident state 6 months post-accident as having suffered a permanent impairment.

It is important to have the injured person’s doctor confirm that the person’s prognosis (medical prognosis) is guarded.  Lawyers rely upon doctors, and other professionals, to advise clients about whether they are over the threshold.

If you have any questions about topics covered in this post, or if you would like to have a discussion with a lawyer about your personal situation, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of our litigation law group.

Ian R. Stauffer

Partner – Litigation Law Group

Disclaimer: This article is provided as an information resource. This article should not be relied upon to make decisions and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional. In all cases, contact your legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this document before making decisions. Any use of this document does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Please note that this information is current only to the date of posting. The law is constantly changing and always evolving.


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