‘FAIR – supporting auto accident victims through advocacy and education’
Most people live their lives not giving a thought about what they have accomplished. We plug along with day to day events or situations.
UNTIL …. Life stops the way you’re use to! Your abilities change, for example…..physical movement, memory, concentration, motivation, determination, planning (even hourly), mood/behaviour, you change. This can happen with a motor vehicle accident, or blows to the head, or a fall, to name a few.
After my car accident, the first 6 months involved three different hospitals, for intensive rehabilation. When my glascow scale reached 8 out of 15, I was discharged and then able to go home from the hospital to the care of my brother Mike. He gave me 24 hour care for the next 6 months. He was my rock. He rode the roller coaster of recovery with me!
After the accident I had to relearn many things people take for granted. Learning the skills of sitting up in bed or chair unsupported, being in a wheelchair for mobility, using a walker to re learn how to walk, learning how to use the cane for stability were uphill challenges for me. The basic skills of eating, drinking and thinking all had to be relearned. I was a 40 year old woman with the functions of a toddler.
When this unfortunate experience occurs, we are required to work harder, mind & body, than we ever have before just to try and “regain” our abilities. I looked at my head injury in the beginning, with disbelief, anger, and resentment. I couldn’t believe that this had happened to me.
Through a lot of support from family, friends, and therapists, I was guided in how I could move forward. Do I miss my abilities I no longer have? ABSOLUTELY YES! But, I like me and I’m grateful for what I have. My positive thought has always been, IT COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE!
I’m trying to share what worked for me with the hope that the ideas, might work or help you.
I took my experience as an opportunity to revise me. Through working with and through my deficits, I also learned how to adapt, so I could LIVE.
I’ve come a long way since that day in 2008. Today I am the Vice-Chair of FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform. Now I find myself fighting for other MVA victims so they too can have access to the resources they so desperately need for recovery.
Human books share their stories Tammy Kirkwood, who incurred an acquired brain injury after she was involved in a horrific car accident four years ago, chats with Miss Petite Simcoe County Jessica Katie Foster during the Get a Life Festival at the Orillia Public Library Saturday. Both Kirkwood and Foster volunteered to share their stories as human books.
Hundreds rally against cuts to auto insurance benefitsTORONTO – Changes to auto insurance benefits for motor vehicle accident victims passed in the Ontario legislature Wednesday as part of the provincial budget.“God help us all,” Tammy Kirkwood said upon hearing the news. “We’re getting a lot less coverage for a lot more money and I’m not sure why.” Kirkwood was one of hundreds of protesters at Queen’s Park rallying against reductions in auto insurance benefits which they say will have the most effect on victims with catastrophic injuries. The 47-year-old Orillia woman said protesters were “flabbergasted” that the provincial government “was trying to disable our resources and our funding to recover.”
The Brain’s Way of Healing is about neuroplasticity’s next step — healing the brain using totally non-invasive methods, including patterns of energy to resynchronize the brain’s neurons when illness or injury causes them to fire improperly. It’s revolutionary and in some instances shocking — we’ll see people’s lifelong afflictions improved, or, in some cases cured almost miraculously. But these are not miracles, and Dr. Doidge explains the science behind these improvements. http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/the-brains-way-of-healing
Thank you for the opportunity to give you my recommendations for the 2020 Budget.
The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule in the Auto Insurance File needs to be
modernized to protect injured victims.
Catastrophically injured survivors require timely access to substantial funding and
resources to assist them in achieving maximum recovery.
The $2,000,000 base for Catastrophic injuries that was in existence for over 20 years,
was supposed to be reinstated up from the reduction to $1 million made in 2016. The
public is still waiting! With the costs of services increasing, even the $2 million dollars
doesn’t cover all the needs of a person who has suffered a life changing injury. This
government should follow through on their plan to take action for these injured people. It
is noted that even going back up to $2 million is about half of what was available to
Catastrophically injured persons 25 years ago when adjusted for inflation.
The Insurers are traumatizing survivors with the amount as well as the poor quality of
Independent Medical Examinations (IME) that they use to determine the extent of the
injuries. A three strikes rule would allow the insurers to fight against fraud in the system
without halting the recovery of the injured person. Implementing a three strikes rule
protects Ontario inured MVA survivors from improper and unqualified assessors and
their medical reports.
A roster of IME doctors, who are up to date in their training, without regulatory College
cautions on their record and who are truly qualified in their specialties should be a goal
of this government. Communications with treating physicians needs to be necessary to
ask for clarifications of submitted reports.
Attention should be on how and why there is a current $935,000.00 difference in
rehabilitation resources between being seriously injured ($65,000 for non-catastrophic)
and Catastrophic injuries ($1 million). This gap is where many people fall through the
cracks when they cannot get the treatment they need.
There should be independence in the system to ensure Ontario’s injured drivers are
getting the help they need and not just what insurers feel they want to pay for.
We are mandated to purchase a product that isn’t covering us in our time of need.
Will this government provide the leadership to fix it?
I was pleased to see the FSRA was creating committees like SAC, Stakeholder Advisory Committee for Property & Casualty (P&C) Insurance, and CAP, Consumer Advisory Panel.
I applied for the SAC and looking forward to being an Advocate and consumer participant. It is unfortunate that the SAC committee’s only participants are from within the insurance industry. It seems odd and unfair that FAIR, Fair association of victims for Accident Insurance Reform, participated in the Working Groups with the other stakeholders for the Drivers Card and Assessment Form and yet isn’t included on this Committee.
There was a lot of information and ideas shared in the meetings over the summer months. Consumers had a voice and we thought that positive changes were going to be made to aid the insurance industry through the regulations and make it easier for consumers to maneuver the insurance process without it causing more trauma to accident victims.
I have reviewed the Draft F2020-21 FSRA Priorities and Budget and find that it is difficult to read and understand. It’s written in terms and wording that leaves many questions.
“• Develop new reporting and analytical tools to enable proactive regulatory monitoring and evidence-based policy decisions. FSRA will: • Report on the health of Ontario’s auto insurance system” How can you have a report on the health of the auto insurance scheme if you haven’t asked consumers whether it is working for them? Otherwise it is just a statement on how profitable or how happy insurers are isn’t it?
Consumers are definitely not being served and it shows in decisions like Tomec (see below) where it’s apparent insurers are not standing behind their product and contract of coverage or following the intent of the SABs.
“effectively penalize the appellant for accessing benefits she is statutorily entitled to”
OR “Statutes are to be interpreted in a manner that does not lead to absurd results. An interpretation is considered absurd if it “leads to ridiculous or frivolous consequences, if it is extremely unreasonable or inequitable, if it is illogical or incoherent, or if it is incompatible with other provisions or with the object of the Page: 16 legislative enactment”
AND “This is an absurd result. To choose it, as the LAT did, is unreasonable.”
This is not what you want to hear in reference to the hearings system for some of Ontario’s most vulnerable persons. Those statements and how the existing system is not serving consumers is exactly where the attention is most needed.
Now that there are no consumers included on the SAC, it is showing that a fair system is now far more unlikely to happen and there will be little improvement over the previous FSCO regulatory system. Consumers are not being represented when the Committee is welcoming only insurers to comment and influence policy.
 Statutes are to be interpreted in a manner that does not lead to absurd results. An interpretation is absurd if it “leads to ridiculous or frivolous consequences, if it is extremely unreasonable or inequitable, if it is illogical or incoherent, or if it is incompatible with other provisions or with the object of the Page: 16 legislative enactment”: Rizzo & Rizzo Shoes Ltd. (Re),  1 S.C.R. 27, 36 O.R. (3d) 418, at para. 27.
 Here, the decisions below thrust the appellant into a Kafkaesque regulatory regime. A hard limitation period would bar the appellant from claiming enhanced benefits, before she was even eligible for those benefits. However, if the appellant had not claimed any benefits until she obtained CAT status in 2015, she would not be caught by the limitation period: Machaj v. RBC General Insurance Company, 2016 ONCA 257, at para. 6. Alternatively, if the appellant had coincidentally obtained CAT status before 2012, the hard limitation period would not bar her claim for enhanced benefits.
 This outcome is absurd. There is no principled reason for barring the appellant’s claim for enhanced benefits in the first scenario but allowing the claim in the second and third scenario. To do so would effectively penalize the appellant for accessing benefits she is statutorily entitled to, or for developing CAT status too late.
 The impossible position a hard limitation places the appellant is best illustrated by having regard to Economical’s counsel’s oral submissions. Counsel denied that the appellant was put in a lose-lose situation. She argued that the appellant could have applied to the LAT before the expiry of the limitation period for a declaration that, in the future, she would be entitled to extended benefits if she were subsequently found to be CAT. Page: 17
 I start by noting that courts must be cognizant of the significant disparity in resources between large insurance companies and their insureds, who do not have unlimited resources to bring multiple proceedings, including prophylactic claims based on a future contingency: see MacDonald v. Chicago Title Insurance Company of Canada, 2015 ONCA 842, 127 O.R. (3d) 663, at para. 88, leave to appeal refused,  S.C.C.A. No. 39.
 In any event, if such a proceeding were commenced for a declaration, it is difficult to imagine how it could succeed. At best, the appellant could only lead speculative evidence that she might be CAT at some unknown point in the future. Faced with that evidentiary record, the LAT would likely decline to make the requested declaration.
 In my view, the hard limitation period puts the appellant in an impossible situation, where the time for claiming a benefit commences when she is ineligible to make such a claim. This is an absurd result. To choose it, as the LAT did, is unreasonable.
Orillia Business Women’s Association – Women of Distinction 2019 Nominees
FAIR (Fair Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform)
To understand how Tammy has and is continually achieving excellence and is an innovator for the work that she does, I would like to say a bit about what happened to Tammy to bring her to the point she is at today. On October 24th 2008 Tammy was T-Boned by a dump truck on her way to work. The injuries she sustained were catastrophic including a severe brain injury and many permanent physical injuries. The crash changed her life completely and her recovery was nothing short of a miracle as the doctors did not give much hope to her family for her recovery. However, Tammy, being the determined and amazingly strong willed person she is, did recover. Over time, and with much rehabilitation and determination on Tammy’s part, she has accomplished so much. She continues to live with the injuries she sustained, both physical and mental and has thrived in her ‘new’ life giving back to all who come not only come in contact with her but the community and all those that can’t speak for themselves.
She currently works for FAIR which is the Association for Accident Victims and Accident Insurance Reform. In her role she does many administrative duties, but where she really shines is her advocating with government bodies and the public at large for fair treatment and access to benefits that survivors of serious injury so desperately need. Since her accident, insurance companies and the government have cut settlement monies for rehabilitation and on- going life management and Tammy has been vocal about what is needed and necessary for individuals to recover, flourish and in many cases such as hers, create a new life while dealing with permanent life changes. She attends budget meetings, speaks at government committees, writes numerous letters to MPP’s and anyone who will listen including the press about survivors’ plights and rights, and tries to make the insurance companies and the government accountable to some of the most vulnerable members of society. Ail of this she does without expecting a thing. She does not look for accolades or pats on the back. She does this because she believes that everyone is entitled to a good life.
Since 2010 our coverage has been slashed and reduced by the insurers lobbying for changes that increases their profits on the backs of MVA survivors and their families and ultimately us, the tax payer. With every cut to coverage we move closer to public auto insurance. With every ‘threshold’ insurers create, there is a new barrier to access recovery tools.
Our premiums keep rising and now the standard or basic coverage is not enough to provide necessary resources or funding for seriously injured people.
This has led to an enormous number of auto insurance related cases in our courts and a lack of faith in the industry overall……read more