Bennett v. Allstate Insurance Company of Canada (2023 ONSC 2609)

The claimant appealed the Tribunal’s denial of a special award related to IRBs which were reinstated after the post-104 week mark following further medical assessments. The Court dismissed the appeal, holding that it did not raise an issue of law. The Tribunal’s determination regarding the special award were factual in nature, and the Tribunal applied the proper legal test in deciding whether a special award was warranted.

Ni v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada (20-008774)

The claimant requested a special award for IRBs due to an unreasonable delay by the insurer. As of January 16, 2020, the claimant had provided her OCF-1, OCF-2, OCF-3 and OCF-10 to the insurer. On January 30, 2020, the insurer sent a section 33 request for further income-related documents. The insured made repeated section 33 requests for these documents, claiming that they were required for a determination of the claimant’s entitlement to IRBs. The claimant provided most of the requested documents by March 6, 2020. On April 13, 2020, the insurer suspended the claimant’s IRBs for non-compliance. On January 26, 2021, the claimant sent a letter to the insurer advising that she had not received any IRBs since the accident occurred on December 23, 2019. She further advised that the outstanding documents requested by the insurer were not required to determine her eligibility to IRBs. In its response, the insurer acknowledged the claimant’s position as it advised that certain documents that had been previously requested were no longer necessary. On August 9, 2021, the insurer advised the claimant that IRBs in the amount of $23,314.29 and interest in the amount of $1,579.20 had been paid to the claimant for the period from December 23, 2019 to February 9, 2021. The insurer continued to pay IRBs to the claimant from August 9, 2021 and onwards. Vice-Chair Brooks found that the insurer’s conduct satisfied the test for unreasonably delaying payments as it was “imprudent, stubborn and inflexible”. Vice-Chair Brooks found that the claimant had provided all documents necessary for the determination of her eligibility to IRBs as of January 16, 2020. Vice-Chair Brooks awarded the claimant a special award of $11,652.14, which constituted 50 percent of the IRBs paid. She noted that this was the highest rate permitted under the SABS. She found that the insured’s actions fell on the “furthest end of the scale” as it had refused to pay the claimant IRBs for over a year due to alleged non-compliance, when the claimant had already provided all the required documents as of January 2020.

Cruz v. Belair Insurance Company (20-014208)

The claimant was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident in September 2017, in which she sustained multiple fractures. She applied to the LAT seeking CAT determination under Criteria 7 and entitlement to post-104 IRBs, medical benefits, and a special award. Vice-Chair Lester decided to exclude two insurer reports that were served after the deadline for productions. The claimant was permitted to call the claims adjuster despite late service of particulars for the claim for a special award. The claimant’s assessors determined the claimant had a WPI rating of 66%. The insurer’s assessors determined the claimant had a WPI rating of 40%. Vice-Chair Lester determined that the WPI ratings of the claimant’s assessors were incorrect for a variety of reasons, including advancing a rating for a future risk. Vice-Chair Lester found that the claimant had a combined WPI rating of 47% and was not catastrophically impaired. The claimant’s pre-accident employment jobs had all been part-time short-term positions in retail, childcare, and a travel agency. Vice-Chair Lester found that the claimant was unable to sit long enough for any sedentary part-time position and was entitled to post-104 IRBs. The claimant was entitled to OT services and physiotherapy. She was not entitled to a SPECT assessment or a special award.

K.G. v. Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (20-003724)

The claimant disputed his entitlement to ACBs in relation to a 1999 accident. The Fund stopped paying ACBs in 2000 without a proper notice, and agreed to reinstate ACBs with interest at the Form 1 rate of $120.40, and paid interest at 1 percent per month. The claimant requested that the LAT award ACBs at the rate of $5,575.31 per month from 2000 onwards based on a retroactive Form 1 completed in 2019. The claimant also requested interest at the rate of 2 percent per month, and a special award. Vice Chair Shapiro agreed that the Fund improperly stopped payment of ACBs without proper notice, and that the Fund correctly reinstated ACBs with payment back to 2000 at the rate of $120.41 per month, other than two periods in which a “top-up” of $331.10 was granted when the claimant moved residences. Vice Chair Shapiro rejected the retroactive Form 1 and the suggested need for 24-hour supervision. The retroactive Form 1 was completed by an OT will no familiarity of the Form 1 as it existed in 2000; the documents reviewed by the OT were scant; the OT’s evidence was contrary to the evidence of the claimant’s family members regarding the claimant’s independence; and the OT ignored the claimant’s recovery in the year or two after the accident. Additionally, the claimant’s current treatment team did not support the need for 24 hour supervision. As to interest, Vice Chair Shapiro held that the claimant was entitled to interest at the rate of 2 percent per month, rather than 1 percent per month, based on the Court of Appeal’s decisions in Federico v State Farm, and Sidhu v State Farm. Finally, Vice Chair Shapiro granted a special award of 10 percent on all ACBs that were wrongly withheld. The Fund inappropriately placed ACBs “on hold” without any provision in the SABS allowing it to do so, and there was a delay of almost 20 years in payment of ACBs.

Singer v The Co-operators General Insurance Company (19-014099)

The claimant was seriously injured in an accident and received benefits from his insurer as a result. The claimant applied to the LAT seeking an award under s. 10 of Regulation 664, submitting that the insurer acted in bad faith to prevent him from applying for additional benefits. Specifically, the claimant argued that the insurer failed to inform him of benefits which were available and failed to advise that he obtain legal counsel. Adjudicator Evans concluded that the claimant failed to establish that the insurer acted in bad faith. The evidence before the LAT confirmed that a representative of the insurer met with the claimant after the accident and provided an information packet containing all of the necessary information to make a claim. Adjudicator Evans further highlighted that the SABS does not require an insurer to recommend legal counsel but may require that they provide notice that an insured person is entitled to legal representation at an examination under oath. The claimants application was dismissed.

Padua v. Co-operators General Insurance Company (20-005450)

The claimant brought a LAT application after various treatment plans were denied because her injuries were deemed to fall under the MIG. She also sought a special award for unreasonably withheld or delayed payments. Several months after the accident in April 2018, the claimant had voluntarily withdrawn from receiving treatment without exhausting her MIG benefits. She did not seek further treatment until January 2020. The claimant had not referenced any psychological injuries to her treatment providers following the accident. Owing to the lapse of a year and a half in which no treatment was sought, combined with the absence of any psychological complaints related to the accident prior to January 2020, the insurer denied approval of the assessment and did not conduct a psychological IE. Adjudicator Norris ruled that the claimant was entitled to a special award in the amount of $1,612.79. He found that the insurer had acted unreasonably in rejecting the conclusions of Dr. Brunshaw’s psychological assessment dated April 22, 2020, which stated that the claimant had suffered psychological injuries from the accident and required treatment. At the hearing, the claimant acknowledged that she had denied experiencing pre-accident psychological issues in her assessment, despite her family doctor’s notes indicating otherwise. However, Adjudicator Norris noted that the insurer had not produced any independent medical opinions following receipt of the claimant’s psychological report, leaving its conclusion, which included causation of the alleged injuries, uncontested. He opined that psychological injuries could develop over time and that the year and a half gap did not disqualify the claimant from receiving further treatment. She was deemed to be entitled to 50% of the amounts withheld but was awarded 30% to account for a failure to disclose pre-existing psychological issues during her psychological assessment.

O’Brien v. Intact Insurance Company (20-003729)

The claimant’s father was fatally injured in an automobile accident which led the claimant to develop psychological injuries and claim benefits pursuant to the SABs. A section 44 examination concluded that the proposed psychological treatment sought by the claimant was reasonable and necessary; however an incorrect fax number was used to send correspondence approving treatment. The claimant applied for an award pursuant to s. 10 of O. Reg 664 due to the insurer’s error. Adjudicator Norris found that the claimant was not entitled to an award as the insurer’s behaviour did not amount to unreasonable withholding or the delay of the payment. Adjudicator Norris emphasized that insurers are not to be held to the standard of perfection, and mistakes are not errors that warrant the grant of an award.

Shweihat v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada (20-001897)

The Tribunal determined that the claimant was not entitled to an award under s. 10 of O. Reg 664. The claimant had argued that the insurer’s denial of a treatment plan was unreasonable as it had relied on an insurer examination that was contrary to the available medical records. Vice-Chair Marzinotto found that the medical evidence included in the report was consistent with the claimant’s records and that it was therefore reasonable for the insurer to rely on the report. There is a high threshold for entitlement to an award under O. Reg. 664. The claimant failed to demonstrate that the insurer had either unreasonably withheld or delayed the payment of a benefit to which he was entitled.

J.T. v. Certas Home and Auto Insurance Company (19-001148)

The claimant was injured in an accident in which a bus was struck by a train, and he was found to suffer a catastrophic impairment. He applied to the LAT claiming $166,437 in home modifications, $839,104 for the cost of a new home, weekly housekeeping expenses, and a special award. The insurer sought repayment of $8,747.42 in IRBs related to its error in not reducing IRBs at the claimant’s 65th birthday. Adjudicator Hines found that the home modifications were deemed incurred and ordered the insurer to pay same, even though the claimant had since moved. She found that the insurer had sufficient information from medical records and its own IE reports to support the need for the proposed modifications. The claimed cost of a new home was denied. The SABS is clear that the value of a new home cannot exceed the value of home modifications that are reasonable and necessary to accommodate a person’s disability. The proposed home cost was far in excess of the modifications found reasonable by the Tribunal. Adjudicator Hines also rejected the notion that the claimant should not have to allocate any proceeds from his original home to purchase a new home; that argument was unreasonable and not supported by the SABS or case law. Housekeeping expenses of $100 per week were awarded, as the claimant was found to need assistance of 12 to 13 per week. The service provider was the claimant’s wife, who was found to suffer an economic loss in relation to attendant care in an earlier FSCO decision. The insurer argued that the service provider could not “double dip” on the economic loss, and that time spent providing 24/7 supervision (which was being paid as ACBs), could not be used to count towards housekeeping services. Adjudicator Hines rejected this argument, holding that the SABS does not bar an insured from using the same service provider for housekeeping and attendant care, nor was a separate economic loss required to be proven. A special award of 25 percent was granted on the withheld home modifications, given that the insurer had already been found to have unreasonably withheld approval and payment of same. Finally, Adjudicator Hines granted the insurer’s repayment request of $8,747.42 in IRBs. The insurer mistakenly paid the claimant $400.00 per week after his 65th birthday and did not reduce the amount per the SABS until eight months later. The repayment request was made within 12 months, and complied with section 52. The insurer was permitted to reduce ongoing IRB payments by 20 percent until the repayment was complete

DeGroot v. Licence Appeal Tribunal (2022 ONSC 6160)

The claimant appealed the Tribunal’s decision awarding IRBs of $161.11 per week up to October 6, 2020, and declining to award any IRBs thereafter. The claimant also appealed the dismissal of the special award claim. The Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the Tribunal’s weekly IRB award was accurate in light of the claimant’s accounting report, and that the $185 minimum for IRBs after the 104 week mark could be reduced by post-accident income. Regarding IRBs beyond October 6, 2020, the Court held that the Tribunal did not err in dismissing the issue, as the claimant had not put evidence of an IRB calculation beyond that date before the Tribunal, and the issue appeared to be moot as the insurer had conceded payment of $400 per week for that time period after the Tribunal’s decision was released. The Tribunal’s decision that the issue was moot was entitled to discretion. Finally, the Court held that the Tribunal’s decision to not grant a special award properly considered relevant factors in coming to the decision to dismiss the claim.