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‘WAD’ stands for ‘Whiplash Associated Disorder’.

In its simplest terms, if you suffer an injury to your muscles or ligaments that can be described as a ‘sprain’ or a ‘strain’ you will likely be described (typically by a physiotherapist) as being a WAD 1 or WAD 2. This is only if you don’t have numbness/tingling in your arms, hands, legs or feet – in that case you should be described as having suffered a WAD 3. In other words, if you have numbness/tingling in your arms, hand, legs, or feet, you should be described as having a WAD 3. The importance of these classifications is that the insurance companies will tell you that you are only able to claim a maximum of roughly $4,800 for pain and suffering if you are diagnosed as being a WAD 1 or 2. This is WRONG. This is NOT what being diagnosed as a WAD 1 or 2 by your physiotherapist means. I have seen many many cases where the classification by the physiotherapist is wrong to begin with. Also, the Courts have made it clear that if you have ongoing chronic pain beyond six months, your claim may not be considered ‘minor’ and you may be entitled to proper compensation. Each case turns on its own facts – get some professional advice from a lawyer before speaking with any insurer.

Here is some more detail :

When people talk about whether an injury is “Minor” they are really referring to two pieces of legislation that the insurance industry lobbied the government to impose on people injured in car accidents. The first piece of legislation is called the Minor Injury Regulation (“MIR”). The second piece of legislation is called the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation (“DTPR”).

A ‘WAD’ injury is defined in the DTPR as follows :

(m) “WAD injury” means a whiplash associated disorder other
than one that exhibits one or both of the following:

    (i) objective, demonstrable, definable and clinically
    relevant neurological signs;
    (ii) a fracture to or a dislocation of the spine.

Section 16 of the DTPR describes how to diagnose a ‘WAD 1’ :

Diagnostic criteria: WAD I injuries
16(1) If a WAD injury is diagnosed, the criteria to be used to
diagnose a WAD I injury are

    (a) complaints of spinal pain, stiffness or tenderness;
    (b) no demonstrable, definable and clinically relevant
    physical signs of injury;
    (c) no objective, demonstrable, definable and clinically
    relevant neurological signs of injury;

    (d) no fractures to or dislocation of the spine.

(2) If a WAD I injury is diagnosed, no further investigation of the
injury is warranted, unless there is cause to do so.

It is worth noting that if you have any of the following symptoms, the DTPR states that there is something going on other than WAD 1 injuries :

(A) disturbance of balance,
(B) disturbance or loss of hearing,
(C) limb pain or numbness,
(D) cognitive dysfunction, and
(E) jaw pain

Section 19 of the DTPR describes how to diagnose a ‘WAD II’ :

Diagnostic criteria: WAD II injuries
19(1) If a WAD injury is diagnosed, the criteria to be used to
diagnose a WAD II injury are
(a) complaints of spinal pain, stiffness or tenderness;
(b) demonstrable, definable and clinically relevant physical
signs of injury, including

    (i) musculoskeletal signs of decreased range of motion
    of the spine, and
    (ii) point tenderness of spinal structures affected by the
    injury;

(c) no objective, demonstrable, definable and clinically
relevant neurological signs of injury;
(d) no fracture to or dislocation of the spine.

Again, before you think you might have a ‘minor’ injury (or anyone else tells you that you have a ‘minor’ injury), it is worth noting that if you have any of the following symptoms, the DTPR states that there is something going on other than WAD II injuries (i.e. NOT A ‘MINOR’ INJURY) :

(A) disturbance of balance,
(B) disturbance or loss of hearing,
(C) limb pain or numbness,
(D) cognitive dysfunction, or
(E) jaw pain

A WAD III is any ‘soft tissue injury’ or in other words a WAD I or II that also exhibits one or both of the following:

(i) objective, demonstrable, definable and clinically

relevant neurological signs;

(ii) a fracture to or a dislocation of the spine

Regardless of whether or not you have been ‘diagnosed’ by a physiotherapist or chiropractor (or family doctor) as having a WAD I or WAD II, these diagnoses often change over time. If there is little or no improvement in your pain or symptoms over a period of months, there is often a realization that the injury is more serious than first thought. Often having an MRI will provide an explanation of the ongoing symptoms (as opposed to an x-ray, which will only show a fracture). There are also many exceptions to the so-called ‘Cap’ – don’t believe what you might have been told by an insurance adjuster. Their ‘default’ position is that all motor vehicle accident injured people have ‘minor’ injuries.