An injured person in a motor vehicle accident must prove that a serious impairment of a physical, mental or psychological function has occurred. This is only one of the criteria of the car injury threshold. The complete criteria is described in our threshold post. The threshold must be met in order to receive compensation for the injury itself and healthcare expenses.
Serious Impairment Requires Substantial Interference
Section 4.2 of O.Reg. 461/96 of the Insurance Act specifies what must be shown to constitute a serious impairment. The regulation states:
1. The impairment must be,
i. Substantially interfere with the person’s ability to continue his or her regular or usual employment, despite reasonable efforts to accommodate the person’s impairment and the person’s reasonable efforts to use the accommodation to allow the person to continue employment,
ii. substantially interfere with the person’s ability to continue training for a career in a field in which the person was being trained before the incident, despite reasonable efforts to accommodate the person’s impairment and the person’s reasonable efforts to use the accommodation to allow the person to continue his or her career training, or
iii. substantially interfere with most of the usual activities of daily living, considering the person’s age.
The assessment of whether substantial interference has occurred is in relation to the ability of the injured person. It is not measured by whether the impairment would substantially interfere with some other reasonably ordinary person.
Both medical and lay evidence may show that the injured person has suffered a serious impairment.
The Effect on Enjoyment of Life
An injured person must do more than simply experience ongoing pain or discomfort. It is expected that injured persons bear some interference with their enjoyment of life without being able to sue for it. Tolerable symptoms that still permit an injured person to function well do not meet the threshold criteria. However, symptoms that go beyond the tolerable and significantly impair a plaintiff’s enjoyment of life will be sufficiently serious. A person who can carry on daily activities, but is subject to permanent symptoms that have a significant effect on his or her enjoyment of life, (e.g., because of sleep disorder, headaches, dizziness and nausea), has sustained a serious impairment.
The Effect on Employment
A change in job function or efficiency is sufficient to constitute a substantial interference with the ability of an injured person to continue his or her employment. Similarly, frustration of an injured person’s chosen career path generally is a serious matter.
The Effect on Daily Living
Activities of daily living are wide-ranging, and include not only employment activities and household responsibilities, but also the ability to socialize with others, have intimate relations enjoy one’s children, and engage in recreational pursuits.