The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly cruel to populations that were already at-risk in our society. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are more likely to experience severe symptoms than the young and healthy. Low-income individuals and hourly workers have contracted the virus at a higher rate than wealthy people of the same age. And seriously injured accident victims, who are among the most vulnerable populations in Ontario, have also been affected, which is a major concern to victims’ rights activists and personal injury lawyers.
For example: imagine that a family member suffered a spinal injury in a car accident and now lives with chronic pain and limited mobility. Although their post-accident life has been challenging, they have adjusted to a new normal with the help of friends, family, and a support team paid for with accident benefits. The support team may include attendant caregivers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, and more.
Suddenly, the public health measures imposed by the provincial government to arrest the spread of COVID-19 have upended your family member’s new normal. They are no longer able to visit the medical facilities where they received rehabilitative treatment and physiotherapy. Their occupational therapist or attendant caregiver is no longer comfortable visiting multiple private homes in a single day.
Recovery from a serious, life-altering injury can take years of sustained hard work – any prolonged pause in the recovery can cause regression. This is the reality now facing numerous accident survivors across Ontario.
To mitigate the impact of this unprecedented upheaval, some personal injury lawyers and victims’ rights activists are advocating for temporary changes to Ontario’s accident benefits system. Currently, attendant care benefits are only available to accident victims who receive care from a health professional or a from a non-professional, such as a family member, who has suffered an economic loss to provide care. The FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform is calling on the province to waive this requirement
“Insurers should consider temporarily waiving the requirement that the caregiver sustain an economic loss in order to be paid for their services and pay the replacement provider the standard rate,” FAIR Chair of the Board Rhona DesRoches told Canadian Underwriter. A spokesperson from the Insurance Bureau of Canada told the magazine it is “examining these issues closely to determine how best to serve the health care needs of injured people during the emergency.”
Waiving the economic loss requirement for attendant care benefits would not, on its own, solve the myriad issues facing injury victims amid COVID-19. But it would show that insurance providers and the provincial government are sensitive to the needs of at-risks groups on the front lines of this global crisis.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team will be by your side through every step of the legal process.
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