The Superintendent of Insurance’s Interpretation Bulletin 05-2021 confirms the annual increase in the amount for non-pecuniary damages for minor injuries sustained in car accidents in Alberta.
Effective Jan 1, 2022, the maximum minor injury amount of $5,365 will be adjusted by 2.3% to $5,488. The new amount applies to injuries resulting from automobile accidents that occur in Alberta on or after January 1, 2022.
If you sustain soft tissue injuries in a car accident you may have heard reference to the minor injury cap or been told that by an insurance company representative that your injury is “caught by the cap.” What this means is that the total amount of pain and suffering damages due to this type of injury are limited, i.e., capped, at an amount set each year under Alberta’s Minor Injury Regulation.
Alberta’s Minor Injury Cap (Minor Injury Regulation)
Since 2004, total damages recoverable for minor soft tissue injuries have been limited by the government through the Minor Injury Regulation (MIR). The MIR is intended to cap the amount of damages payable for minor injuries initially defined as a sprain, strain, or “whiplash-associated disorder (WAD)” that does not result in serious impairment.
In 2004, the minor injury cap was $4,000 and that has moved up due to inflation from $5,365 in 2021 to $5,488 in 2022, a 2.3% increase. This history of inflationary increases is summarized in the table at the bottom of this post.
Also, effective November 1, 2020, the meaning of “minor injury” was expanded and redefined as sprains, strains or Whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) injuries “caused by the accident that does not result in a serious impairment and includes, in respect of a sprain, strain or WAD injury that occurs on or after November 1, 2020, any clinically associated sequelae of the sprain, strain or WAD injury, whether physical or psychological in nature, caused by the accident that do not result in a serious impairment.” While the intention was to increase the types of injuries caught by the cap, not all soft tissue injuries are minor.
Soft Tissue Injuries in Plain Language
A soft tissue injury – minor injury – is damage to tissue, ligaments, muscles or tendons that does not cause long-term problems with work, leisure or other regular activities.
The Minor Injury Regulation (the “Cap”) Does not Always Apply
It is important to know that not all soft tissue injuries are capped. The key is whether the injuries end up resulting in a “serious impairment” such that you can no longer perform the essential tasks of your employment, or of an education or training program, or other normal activities of daily life, and this has been ongoing since the accident, and is not expected to “improve substantially.”
Whether an injury is considered “minor” and caught by the cap depends on the evidence related to your injury. An injury that initially appears minor, may turn out to cause you long term problems. Understanding whether your injuries fall within or outside the cap is one of many good reasons to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your case. When it comes to your well-being and your rights, getting full information about your options is always a wise move.
The Minor Injury Cap does not cap other damages
It’s also important to understand that the minor injury cap does not limit your ability to claim other types of damages such as loss of income, cost of care, loss of housekeeping capacity or out of pocket expenses.
If you have questions about whether the cap applies to you, we encourage you to contact us or another lawyer to find out more. We are always happy to talk with you about your case and we’ll tell you what we think.
Annual adjustments to the Minor Injury Cap
The total amount recoverable as damages for non-pecuniary loss for minor injuries resulting from an automobile accident is adjusted annually in accordance with the Alberta Consumer Price Index. A Table of the historical maximum injury amount is below:
Historical Annual Adjustments to the Minor Injury Cap
The maximum minor injury amounts by effective date are as follows
|Effective Date Range||Minor Injury Amount|
|October 1, 2004 – December 31, 2006||$4,000|
|January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2007||$4,144|
|January 1, 2008 – December 31, 2008||$4,339|
|January 1, 2009 – December 31, 2009||$4,504|
|January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010||$4,518|
|January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2011||$4,559|
|January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012||$4,641|
|January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2013||$4,725|
|January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2014||$4,777|
|January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015||$4,892|
|January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016||$4,956|
|January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017||$5,020|
|January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018||$5,080|
|January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2019||$5,202|
|January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020||$5,296|
|January 1, 2021 – December 31, 2021||$5,365|
|January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022||$5,488|