The whole person impairment rating (WPI) refers to the system for calculating the extent of serious, catastrophic injuries. It’s a complex system that some believe does not always represent the degree of a victim’s injury accurately. Many people feel the WPI rating system is in need of revising, but it is still currently used in Ontario and many other parts of Canada. Below is a brief explanation of the system to keep in mind as you are applying for benefits based on catastrophic injury.
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Defining Catastrophic Impairment
The term “catastrophic injury” refers to injuries that are substantial, serious and permanent, as defined in Ontario Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule (SABS). Victims whose injures are catastrophic will have access to enhanced benefits, far above that of minor or non-minor injury victims. This is because those with catastrophic injuries require extra care over an extended period of time.
For instance, accident victims with paraplegia or those who have suffered blindness or sustained an amputation can qualify as catastrophically injured. Other injuries are more difficult to ascertain, particularly with psycho-emotional impairments.
Calculating Whole Person Impairment
SABS incorporated the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment into legislation to help healthcare professionals assess and analyze victims’ functional impairments. SABS accounts for the fact that having more than one impairment affects the amount of care a victim needs.
The WPI rating system assesses cumulative effect of having multiple impairments. It’s essentially a guideline for the determining the degree of a patient’s permanent impairments resulting from an injury. It accounts for the effects of injuries on the person as a whole.
When determining whether or not a person is catastrophically injured, a health care professional will assign:
- a value to each impairment the victim has;
- use the WPI formula provided by SABS; and
- calculate the final whole person impairment rating.
According to SABS guidelines, a person must be assigned at least a 55 percent WPI in order to be labeled as catastrophically injured.
Accounting for Psychological Injuries
Whether or not physical and psychological impairments can be combined to arrive at a higher WPI rating has been a contentious issue in courts.
Some believe that physical and psychological impairments should be combined when calculating WPI in catastrophic injury cases, while others believe that doing so would be unfair to those who had exclusive physical or psychological injuries.
At this time, the Courts have clarified this issue and have determined that a combination of both is a valid and acceptable practice.
As it currently stands, “Mental or behavioural disorders have a separate classification in the AMA Guides. The current definition in the SABS parallels this by separating out mental and behavioural disorders as qualifying on their own for the catastrophic impairment designation,” explains the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario.
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Unfairly rated? Contact a Lawyer in Ontario
WPI ratings are not a perfect system. If you feel as if you or a loved one has received an unfair rating, our lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm can assist you. Contact us for a free consultation and let us determine how we may be of assistance to you and help you obtain the benefits that you deserve: 1-800-JUSTICE®.