November 7, 2018

If ever there was any doubt about the carnage wrought by the Ontario legislature for the benefit of the Insurance industry, look no further than the recent case of A.B. V Waite (2018 ONSC 2151), a decision by Justice C McLeod of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

After a three week trial and three days of deliberation, the jury awarded the Plaintiff damages of over $188,000 for the injuries she suffered as a result of a car crash that was not her fault.

The jury did its job and went away satisfied that it had made a fair award.

What the jury didn’t know (and couldn’t know – as in “was not legally allowed to know”) was that, because of laws passed by the Ontario government (as a result of years of massive lobbying by the Insurance industry), the trial judge had no choice but to chop the jury’s award down to under $5,800.

Even the judge admitted that: “this is a disastrous outcome for the plaintiff” and that he was “compelled by the Insurance Act and the regulations to reduce the jury verdict.”

So, not only was the hard work of the jury in arriving at what it considered fair compensation undone, but the judge was powerless to do anything about it.

That is because the Insurance Act requires that the first $38,000 awarded for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life must be chopped off – a gift to the Insurance company by legislation.

Unfortunately, that gift has to be paid for by the innocent, injured plaintiff – and the jury is barred from knowing anything about it and thereby unable to tailor the damages award accordingly!

The judge was also forced by the legislation to wipe out all of the jury’s award for the plaintiff’s loss of income.

The judge concluded that the legislative intention was that “all but the most significant tort claims be eliminated” and that the legislation “may in short order make unreduced general damages (for pain and suffering etc.) largely unattainable.”

Approximately 160,000 Canadians are injured in car crashes every single year. In Hamilton alone, cars kill or injure 1840 people per year. But when the victims of these crashes turn to their insurance companies for the help they’ve faithfully paid premiums for over the years, they get a rude surprise: The protection they thought they had evaporates. The legislature has taken it away and the courts are powerless to give it back.

This is a travesty that should outrage Ontarians – and it does outrage them when they learn about it. The problem is that they don’t learn about it until it’s too late: the jury has gone home and the judge’s hands are tied. And when they write to their MPP to complain about it, the damage has been done.

Write to your MPP now. It’s not too late to do that.