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What Does The “Threshold” Mean In Car Accident Claims?

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may have heard by now what is referred to as the “threshold”. The “threshold” is constantly changing as new court decisions are made and new legislation is put in place. In general, for motor vehicle accidents only, to sue for pain and suffering, which is one head of damage (among others, such as income loss and expenses), the injured victim must be able to prove that they have sustained a certain caliber of loss and impairment.


The injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, to sue for pain and suffering, must have resulted in either death, permanent serious disfigurement (i.e. loss of a limb), or permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function. Technically and legally speaking, if this threshold is not met than an injured party is not entitled to non-pecuniary damages, such as pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.


In additional to the verbal threshold, there is an additional informal barrier to recovery which is in the form of a deductible, like you would see in most insurance claims. To be clear, this is also only present in motor vehicle accidents. The amount of the deductible is always changing, and is currently $37,385.17 (at the time of writing this article); which means that even if your injuries meet the verbal threshold, a plaintiff will not prevail in a claim for non-pecuniary damages unless a jury awards more than this amount. If the matter does not make it to trial, which most cases won’t, this threshold is generally used by defendants as a bargaining chip that works in their favour.


Although there is no formal requirement that you retain a lawyer to represent you in your claim for personal injury damages, considering the legal complexities and adversarial nature of the process, it is typically highly recommended you do so. Any serious claim is more than likely going to have a defendant with experienced counsel representing them, which is another reason hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is likely in your best interest. Our law firm understands that every claimant is different, and we therefore do not use a one-size-fits-all approach when handling our files. We understand that it is key to keep our clients fully informed every step of the process. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or by some other form of negligence, please don’t hesitate to contact the Bernstein Law Group to have a free assessment of your case.