Under the MAIA, if an injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident is determined to be a ‘minor injury’ there are serious limitations on the recovery of compensation for statutory benefits and common law damages.
What is a Minor Injury?
A minor physical injury is currently defined as a soft tissue injury and covers injuries to tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other structures or organs of the body. It does not include an injury to nerves or a partial or complete rupture of a tendon, ligament, menisci or cartilage. The regulations specify that an injury to a spinal nerve root manifesting in neurological signs without radiculopathy is also a minor injury.
A minor psychological or psychiatric injury suffered following a motor vehicle accident is defined as an injury that is not a recognised psychiatric illness and includes an acute stress disorder or adjustment disorder.
What does it mean for the Claim?
If the Compulsory Third Party Insurer determines that the injured claimant has suffered a ‘minor injury’ following a motor vehicle accident, the claimant’s entitlement to statutory benefits (weekly payments of compensation and medical expenses) may be terminated 6 months after the accident, despite the fact that the injury may continue to cause them significant problems on a daily basis and impact on their ability to work.
Those who have been the recipient of a minor injury determination following a motor vehicle accident are also prevented from bringing common law claims for damages for future loss of earnings.
Unfortunately, the current CTP scheme leaves some with genuine ongoing injuries following a motor vehicle accident with little recourse, while others with no ongoing complications meet the criteria for non-minor injury such as a chipped tooth. For instance, an injured person may have 2 or more soft tissue injuries that would qualify for a combined assessment above 15% WPI and entitle them to claim non-economic loss compensation through a common law claim but are prevented because the injuries are classified as minor.
The harshness of the current minor injury classification is evident in the number of CTP claims classified as minor or likely to be minor. As at 16 January 2020 according to the statistics published on the SIRA 2017 CTP Scheme Open Data portal of the 23,572 CTP claims lodged since 1 December 2017, 9,091 have been assessed as minor and another 1,415 likely to be minor.