The “Minor Injury” Guideline
The “minor injury” guideline and treatment protocol has been a part of the motor vehicle accident landscape in Ontario since 2010. A “minor injury” is defined under the Regulations as “a sprain, strain, whiplash associated disorder, contusion, abrasion, laceration or subluxation…”. Medical and rehabilitation funding for a “minor injury” is capped at $3,500.00.
The Ontario government commissioned a report into the treatment of common traffic injuries with a view to developing a treatment protocol that would “enable and optimize the recovery of individuals injured in traffic collisions”. The final report entitled “Enabling Recovery from Common Traffic Injuries: A Focus on the Injured Person” was recently released and is available on the website of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.
The report cited the views of numerous people injured in motor vehicle accidents who shared their frustration with the process and their belief that the current provisions of the minor injury guideline severely limit their treatment options and inappropriately characterize their injuries and experiences as minor and inconsequential. It concluded that there was no scientific rationale or merit in continuing to employ the term “minor injury” to describe common traffic injuries.
Instead, the report proposes that traffic injuries be classified as Type I, II or III injuries. Type I injuries would include those injuries that have been shown to have a reasonably short recovery time (from days to a few months at most) and they would include musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains and strains of the spine and limbs (currently classified as “minor injuries”). The report acknowledges that despite medical intervention, a small percentage of people with Type I injuries will experience residual problems over the long term and may develop chronic regional and more widespread pain. As a result, the report proposes that injuries also be classified according to the persistence of symptoms. Injuries that are symptomatic for up to three months post-collision would be classified as “Recent” and other injuries would be classified as “Persistent”. Each level of classification would have its own treatment protocol.
If the recommendations contained in this report become law then it will replace the current minor injury guideline with evidence based treatment that will hopefully lead to more optimal outcomes in traffic injuries.