What is “Catastrophic Impairment” and Why is it Important?

In Ontario, people who suffer injuries in a car accident are entitled to payment of certain benefits from their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. These benefits include coverage for medical and rehabilitation needs, home modifications, attendant care, income replacement, housekeeping needs, and expenses for family members to visit an injured person. These “no fault” benefits have a two-tiered structure: catastrophic and non-catastrophic. If a person’s injuries meet the definition of “catastrophic impairment”, the available benefits increase more than tenfold.

At present, a person injured in a car accident can be found to be catastrophically impaired in a number of different ways, including paraplegia or quadriplegia, total loss of vision in both eyes, amputation of a limb, brain injury, significant physical impairment or significant psychological disorder.

The legislation and related procedures for determining catastrophic impairment are some of the most complex areas of personal injury law in this province. For that reason, the importance of involving an expert from the earliest stages following a serious accident cannot be understated.

About the Authors

Adam Little earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in 1996. He graduated from Queen’s University Faculty of Law in 2000 and was called to the bar in 2002. Adam was practicising on Bay Street for a leading Toronto litigation firm that represented doctors in medical malpractice claims when he realized that helping people through personal injury litigation was what he wanted to do. “I wanted to work for the best,” he said. A partner at Oatley Vigmond had written the best-known book available about addressing jury trials, which Adam had read and admired. He wrote to the partner, went through an intense interview process and became a partner at the firm in 2005.

To learn more about Adam, please click here.