The New Simplified Procedure Rule and Chronic Pain In OntarioFebruary 10, 2021
In an effort to streamline cases of smaller monetary value involving chronic pain, the simplified procedure rule in Ontario was revised last year. Enacted in 2010, the Rule made it mandatory for civil cases in which a plaintiff claimed $100,000 or less in damages to use the Simplified Procedure. The desire was to limit costs for claims that exceeded the Small Claims Court monetary jurisdiction but were able to be resolved in a much more timely manner than using other courts.
Lack of Use
Unfortunately, many plaintiffs chose not to use the simplified procedure, especially in personal injury claims. Instead, they chose the Ordinary Procedure, not necessarily to evade the other procedure but because many accident victims suffer from chronic pain which made it difficult to keep the claims under $100,000. In addition, many accident victims file claims before they are aware of all the damages they suffered. Because it is difficult to determine who will develop chronic pain after an accident and who will not, the old Simplified Procedure rule and chronic pain did not mesh well together.
Simplified Procedure Rule and Chronic Pain
In an effort to promote its use, changes were made to the simplified procedure rule in Ontario. The goal was to make the procedure timely and cost-effective, especially for those who suffer from chronic pain. First, maximum claims were increased from $100,000 to $200,000 and a maximum of three experts may be used at trial. Costs are capped at $50,000 and the disbursement cap is $25,000. There is a strict limit of five days for the trial and examination-in-chief is conducted using affidavits.
One of the biggest changes was that jury trials were eliminated unless the claim included:
- False imprisonment
- Malicious arrest
- Malicious prosecution
Those actions must follow the ordinary procedure rule.
Lawyers have expressed concerns about the changes, however. Although the simplified procedure rule in Ontario doubled the amount a claimant could receive, it still does not address how someone who suffers chronic pain could know what their actual damages were when they filed the claim. Although most personal injury claims will fall under the $200,000 limit, people who are severely injured and may suffer pain for the rest of their lives may not have their damages covered with a $200,000 award. Therefore, there are those who believe the simplified procedure rule and chronic pain may not be compatible.
Lack of Jury Trial
Many claimants report that they are not fond of the elimination of a jury trial. Experts say that a jury trial is fundamental to the concept of justice. Both sides may feel they have more of a chance of winning in a personal injury case if they can plead the case before a jury rather than a judge. Therefore, it is unlikely that many of those involved in an accident will agree to a simplified procedure if it means there can be no jury.
In the past, many insurers agreed to a $100,000 settlement as the simplified procedure limited damages. However, with the increase to $200,000 more insurers may seek higher damages, especially if the person injured may develop chronic pain from their injuries. Since there is no way to know whose pain may become chronic, the simplified procedure rule and chronic pain sufferers could benefit from larger awards, but not awards so large that their pain can be managed well.
The rule has only been in place for a year and it is difficult to determine whether it will increase the number of personal injury claims in Ontario, mostly because of the slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most experts do not believe the simplified procedure rule will have much impact on personal injury cases, especially those that may result in chronic pain. Personal injury claims require expert testimony regarding scene reconstruction, medical, psychological, and vocational issues as well as the loss of income or pain mitigation. The limit of three experts may not be enough to demonstrate that an injured person needs extensive care.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident and believe you may suffer from chronic pain, contact us today to arrange for a no-obligation consultation. You can schedule an appointment by calling or filling out the easy online form today. Our experts will guide you through the process to see if the simplified procedure is right for your needs.
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