In 2004 the insurance industry convinced our government to implement the ‘Minor Injury Regulation’ (MIR). This scheme was intended to capture as many injured Albertans under the umbrella of the phrase ‘minor injury’ as possible. Fortunately there has been a case which limited the interpretation of the MIR that the insurers had been promoting. In Sparrowhawk v. Zaplotinsky [2012 ABQB] the judge decided that people who suffer jaw injuries (also known as TMJ or Temporamandibular Joint injuries) are not limited to the minor injury ‘Cap’.

This is crucial because insurance companies would prefer you did NOT know the compensation you’re entitled to on top of the injury cap.

The insurer in the Sparrowhawk case argued that the jaw has ‘muscles, ligaments and tendons’, just like the back does and therefore any injury to ‘muscles, ligaments or tendons’ in the jaw would only result in a ‘minor injury’. The judge disagreed, saying “all injuries treated principally by dentists… are never minor injuries”.

There are other exceptions to the ‘minor injury’ scheme that you should be aware of, such as if your injuries cause ‘serious impairment’ or prevent you from doing your job or your normal activities of daily living for an extended period of time. Your best course of action is contact your lawyer.

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