Dispelling the Myths Surrounding Income Replacement Benefits.

Income Replacement Benefits

Navigating the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to understanding your entitlements to benefits. In Ontario, you can apply for Income Replacement Benefits (IRBs) from your auto insurer, which can provide some relief while you are unable to work as a result of your collision-related injuries. However, misconceptions and myths, oftentimes perpetuated by insurance companies themselves, can shroud the topic, leaving many accident victims confused about their rights and entitlements. In this blog post, we aim to debunk common myths surrounding IRBs in Ontario and shed light on what you need to know.

Myth #1: IRBS are automatically granted after an accident.

Reality: IRBs are NOT automatically granted after an accident. To qualify, you must be deemed substantially unable to perform your job duties due to the injuries you sustained in the accident. Furthermore, you must submit a completed Application for Accident Benefits and relevant documentation to their insurance provider to initiate the IRB claim process. We posted a blog post about what a completed Application for Accident Benefits looks like last month – remember that you are only able to claim for IRBs from the date you submit your completed Application, even if you were unable to work before that date!

Myth #2: IRBs are only available if you immediately stop working after an accident.

Reality: IRBs are available to any accident victim who is substantially unable to perform their job duties as a result of their collision-related impairments. Some individuals attempt to return to work after their accident, and their collision-related impairments only cause them leave work months later as symptoms persist and get worse. Many insurers will look at a situation like this and say that because the accident victim returned to work, they are ineligible for IRBs. This is not how IRBs work – so long as you can show that your impairments cause a substantial inability to perform the essential functions of your employment, you should be entitled to receive IRBs from that point forward, until at least the second-year anniversary of your collision.

Myth #3: IRBs cover 100% of lost income.

Reality: IRBs cover 70% of an accident victim’s gross income, subject to a statutory cap of $400. This means that, regardless of your income, you can only receive a maximum of $400 weekly in IRBs if you are substantially unable to perform your employment as a result of your accident. Your ability to recover the rest of your lost income is then limited to your ability to recover special damages in your tort claim, if applicable.

Myth #4: IRBs are only available to full-time employees.

Reality: IRBs are NOT limited to full-time employees. Individuals who are self-employed, part-time workers, or temporarily unemployed at the time of the accident may still be eligible for IRBs if they meet the criteria outlined in the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.

Myth #5: IRBs are only available for physical injuries.

Reality: The key consideration when determining IRB entitlement is whether the collision-related injuries cause a substantial inability to perform the essential tasks of your employment. This includes both physical AND psychological injuries. So long as a medical professional can show that your injuries (for example, mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or severe depression) prevent you from working, you should be entitled to IRBs.

Myth #6: IRBs are permanent.

Reality: IRBs are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to accident victims who are temporarily unable to work due to accident-related injuries. The duration of IRB eligibility is determined by factors such as the severity of the injuries and the individual’s prognosis for recovery. Once an individual’s medical condition stabilizes, their entitlement to IRBs may cease. IRBs are typically only granted for the first two years after a collision; however, if you suffer a COMPLETE inability to engage in ANY employment or self-employment for which you are reasonably suited by education, training or expertise, you may be eligible for IRBs for a much longer period of time.

Understanding your entitlements is crucial for empowering yourself during the accident benefits process. Seeking guidance from legal professionals experienced in handling accident benefits claims can further ensure that you receive the assistance and advocacy necessary to secure the benefits you deserve. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact our team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP for a free consultation.

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