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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.