Bill 41 – INSURANCE (ENHANCING DRIVER AFFORDABILITY AND CARE) AMENDMENT ACT, 2020 , is an amendment to the “Minor Injury Regulation,” introduced by the Alberta Government in 2020 with the intention of “reducing” costs and streamlining the process for handling minor injury claims resulting from motor vehicle accidents. However, the implementation of this Bill has and will have significant negative effects on individuals who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents in Alberta.
Under the amendments, the government at the behest of the insurance industry have expanded the definition of a ‘minor injury’ to include TMJ (temporomandibular joint) injuries if they do not cause ‘serious impairment’. After the ‘Cap’ was first instituted in 2004, our courts determined that it did not apply to chronic pain/injuries. The insurance industry has now convinced the government that the government should listen to the insurance industry and not our courts – this has led the government to introduce Bill 41. Now it can be argued that even chronic injuries are ‘capped’ if they don’t cause a ‘serious impairment’.
Additionally, the Minor Injury Regulation has been amended to prevent injured plaintiffs from calling whichever expert medical witnesses they may need to prove their case. Only 1 expert report and 3 expert witnesses can be called at trial if the case is worth over $100,000. This is limited to 1 expert report and 1 expert witness if the case is worth under $100,000.
The original legislation and the amendments are rightly criticized for their one-size-fits-all approach to injury claims. This has led to many individuals being wrongly classified as having “minor injuries,” and therefore being denied the benefits they need to cover the costs of their medical care and rehabilitation.
The Minor Injury Regulation has also faced criticism for its impact on vulnerable populations, such as low-income individuals and those with pre-existing conditions. These individuals may be more likely to suffer from more severe injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident, but may still be classified as having “minor injuries” and denied the benefits they need to cover their medical expenses.
Overall, the implementation of Bill 41 has had a negative impact on many individuals who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents in Alberta. While the intention of the Bill may have been to reduce costs and streamline the claims process, it has ultimately led to many individuals being denied the benefits they need to cover the costs of their medical care and rehabilitation.