Impairment “Permanent”, “Important”, But Not “Serious”

In Kourtesis v. Joris, Mr. Justice Edward R. Brown dismissed an action for damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred during the “Bill 59” regime of the Insurance Act. He held that the plaintiff’s chronic pain injuries did not rise to the level of the threshold under s. 267.5(5) because the impairment resulting from them was not “serious”. He did think that the other elements of the threshold test had been met.

This action had proceeded to trial, where the jury had awarded general damages for non-pecuniary loss in the amount of $45,000 and $25,000 for future income loss. A threshold motion was brought. Justice Brown reviewed the caselaw and concluded that, in deciding that motion, he was not bound by the jury’s decision. However, he said that “[i]t is desirable that there be a reasonable relationship between the verdict of the jury and my conclusion, and I test my conclusion in that context.”

His Honour’s discussion of the jurisprudence provides a useful summary of the law governing the assessment of threshold issues.

Although he agreed with counsel for the plaintiff, that the impairment resulting from the plaintiff’s chronic pain condition was permanent and that it affected an important physical, mental or psychological function, it was not serious. He found that the plaintiff was still “able to do the usual tasks and activities of daily living and to have the usual enjoyment of life”.

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