Inflation has a way of changing things. One of the most considerable economic forces in the world, inflation affects almost everything we do. It can raise prices, lower salaries, and even put the economy into recession. In Alberta, inflation has also had a significant impact on the way car accident injuries are compensated.
The Minor Injury Regulation Cap
Established in 2004, The Minor Injury Regulation Cap (MIR) limits how much money a person can receive as compensation for their minor car accident injuries. The Alberta Government sets it. Over the years, the MIR has changed several times. This is because the cap is regularly adjusted for inflation. As of 2022, the cap is set at $5,365.
Defining Minor Injuries
The definition of a minor injury is a physical injury that does not keep someone from going about their daily lives. This includes injuries like a broken bone or a sprain and things like a cut or bruise. The MIR Cap only applies to car accident injuries that are classified as minor. It does not apply to other types of accidents, like those caused by a slip and fall.
In most cases, an injury must be qualified by a certified examiner to be considered for compensation under the MIR. The examiner must follow the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulations (DTPR) and note how severe the injury is. They must also inform the patient how to care for their damage correctly.
A Flawed System?
While the MIR has helped keep costs down for insurers, it has also been criticized for being too low and unable to provide adequate compensation to accident victims. For example, the evaluation of an injury does not consider the time for recovery, lost wages during recovery, or the long-term effects of the damage.
Many believe the definition of “minor injury” is also flawed. Some injuries that fall under the definition can still have lifelong consequences. While a person may be able to return to work after suffering something like a whiplash-associated disorder, they may never be able to return to the same level of activity they were at before the accident.
Calls for Reform
In the decades since the MIR was established, there have been calls to reform the system. In the early years, insurers were tested for overreaching the vague boundaries of the law. After litigation in the 2000s, the MIR was revised to be more specific about what constitutes a minor injury.
In the 2010s, insurers pushed back by lobbying for broadening the definition of minor injury. In 2018 they managed to successfully get The Cap to cover injuries previously considered significant, such as jaw injuries and some psychological injuries.
In the 2020s, Albertans are pushing back by organizing and lobbying for reform. Groups such as FAIR Alberta are rallying citizens to call the government to change the no-fault system to an at-fault system. They say this would provide a fairer system that would be more person-focused instead of a system that is focused on making insurance companies more money.
If they’ll be successful is yet to be seen. Until then, Albertans will continue to be at the mercy of The Cap.
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