What Albertans need to know about recent changes to their personal injury laws
With the passing of Bill 41, significant changes have occurred to Alberta’s personal injury laws, particularly related to injuries sustained from automobile accidents. Although the bill was designed to create a simpler claims process and lower costs for some Albertans, unfortunately, it is now more difficult for many injured victims to receive the compensation they deserve following an accident.
Here’s what you need to know about Bill 41 and its impact on personal injury law in Alberta:
Key Changes Introduced by Bill 41
Changes to the Minor Injury Regulation
To understand the changes that Bill 41 introduced to the Minor Injury Regulation, or the MIR, it’s important to know that the compensation you are entitled to in the event of an automobile accident is dependent on whether your injuries are classified as minor injuries or serious impairments. Bill 41 expands the scope of a minor injury, making it more challenging for Albertans to receive sufficient compensation in the event of an accident.
In 2004, the Alberta government enacted legislation that limits the amount an injured victim can be compensated for minor soft tissue injuries to a maximum of $4,000. Since that legislation, the Alberta government has added additional clauses, including classifying TMJ injuries as minor injuries.
The new definition of a minor injury under Alberta law now includes any injury, whether physical or psychological, that is related to sprains, strains, or a whiplash associated injury that isn’t classified as serious impairment.
Changes to Number of Experts
Bill 41 also introduced changes to the number of experts that accident victims can rely on for help proving that their injury should be classified as a serious impairment, as opposed to a minor injury. Here are the key changes:
● If the value of the claim for damages incurred by the motor vehicle injury is less than $100,000, victims may bring only 1 expert witness and 1 expert report to trial.
● If the value of the claim for damages incurred by the motor vehicle injury is more than $100,000, victims may bring only 3 expert witnesses and 1 export report to trial.
Although there are some exceptions to these rules, including if both parties agree to involve a joint expert, or if there is consent from the opposing attorneys to include more experts, the likelihood of these exceptions occurring is low.
Changes to Pre-Judgment Interest
Bill 41 also introduced changes to pre-judgment interest, which is interest that accumulates on a legal grant between the time of the accident and the date of judgment. Historically, insurance agencies have delayed resolving claims with the intent to encourage victims to accept a smaller settlement. Pre-judgment interest was designed to protect the victim against this; however, Bill 41 adjusts the time period from which pre-judgment interest can be awarded. Based on the legislation changes from Bill 41, pre-judgment interest is now only awarded starting:
● The day that the defendant receives the Statement of Claim
● The day when the Plaintiff notifies the defendant’s insurer that the Plaintiff intends to make a claim against the defendant
While this legislation change works in favor of the insurers, there are countermeasures that can be taken to protect victims and allow them to get the help they deserve. For assistance, contact GSD Law Group.
Defend Your Rights Today
Bill 41 has made it significantly more difficult for victims to receive the compensation they are entitled to in the event of an automobile accident. If you or one of your family members is the victim of a motor vehicle accident, contact GSD Law Group for help defending your rights. Visit our website or contact one of our locations to book a consultation with us today:
GSD Law Group LLP
Address: Unit 1246, 4818 Westwinds Drive NE, Calgary, AB T3J 3Z5
Address: Unit 406, 9036 46 Street NE, Calgary, AB T3J 2E3