What is the threshold in car accident lawsuits?

In a motor vehicle accident, your injuries must meet a severity threshold to successfully sue for non-pecuniary damages (What compensation can I receive in a lawsuit) and health care expenses.

For your injuries to meet the threshold, they must have resulted in: 

  • death  
  • permanent disfigurement or   
  • permanent serious impairment to physical, mental, or psychological function. (ex. brain injuries, spinal cord injuries etc.)   

In general, to meet the threshold, your injuries must be severe, permanent, and cause impairment of your day-to-day functioning. If your injuries do not meet the threshold, you cannot recover non-pecuniary damages or health care expenses for your motor vehicle accident lawsuit. However, you can still sue for pecuniary losses (What compensation can I receive in a lawsuit), such as loss of income and other financial losses if your injuries do not meet the threshold. 

At trial, a judge will decide whether your injuries meet the threshold based on the evidence provided. The threshold does not apply if your case settles outside of court.

Important: The threshold only applies to lawsuits involving injuries from a motor vehicle accident.

What’s the purpose of the threshold test?

In Ontario, insurance is mandatory for motor vehicles; therefore, your damages will always be covered through statutory accident benefits. The threshold test prevents people from suing their insurance company for more money unless their injuries are severe. Essentially, its purpose is to protect insurance companies from liability. The threshold is outlined in the Insurance Act section 267.5(3) and (5).

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our lawyers at Equilibrium Law for a free initial consultation. We can advise whether your injuries will pass the threshold test and what legal action is best suited for your case.



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