What is the “threshold” and do you meet it?

The threshold is a test found in the Insurance Act to determine whether a car accident victim is allowed to recover money for their pain and suffering. Even in the case of a jury trial, threshold is decided by a judge after a jury verdict has been delivered. What this means is that even if a jury awards a large amount of money to a Plaintiff for pain and suffering, if a Judge finds that the Plaintiff fails to ‘meet the threshold’, they will not be entitled to that award.

Even those injuries which meet the threshold test are subject to a monetary deductible. The purpose of the threshold test and deductible are to screen out minor injuries.

The Threshold Test

The threshold test looks at the injuries or impairments suffered by a Plaintiff in three ways:

  1. The impairment must be permanent; Permanent means that the impairment is longstanding with no anticipated recovery date. Determining whether an injury is permanent involves a review of the medial records, a Plaintiff’s treatment history as well as the opinion of experts as to the Plaintiff’s prognosis.
  2. The impairment must be serious; The impairment cannot be minor in nature. It must prevent a Plaintiff from participating in their social, recreational, familial, household, or employment activities to the extent to which they participated in those activities prior to the accident. There must be a clear and real difference in a Plaintiff’s life after the accident as compared to before the accident.
  3. The impairment must be to an important physical, mental, or psychological function. It is also necessary to prove that the function is important to the Plaintiff.

Deductible

A monetary deductible applies to all claims for pain and suffering damages. For actions before 2015, a deductible of $30,000 is applied for all damages for pain and suffering that are assessed at $100,000 or less. For example, if a Plaintiff’s damages for pain and suffering are assessed at $80,000, he/she will only be entitled to receive $50,000. Even if a Plaintiff is found to meet threshold, if his/her damages are assessed at less than $30,000 no damages will actually be awarded. The deducible is increased annually for inflation. As of 2020, with inflation a deductible of $39,556 applies for any claim assessed at under $131,854.

The law surrounding personal injury claims is complex. You should consult with a personal injury lawyer to help navigate this complicated system. Contact the team at CRB Law at 519-254-6433 or contact us on our website for a private and free consultation to determine your legal rights.

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