Help! My Mental Health Has Suffered After My Loved One Was Injured In A Motor Vehicle Accident

Author(s): Ava N. Williams

August 10, 2023


Help! My Mental Health Has Suffered After My Loved One Was Injured In A Motor Vehicle Accident

Often when someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident, it falls on their partner, child(ren), and/or parent(s) to provide them with care. In 2018, Statistics Canada estimated that 1 in 4 Canadians provide some level of care to a family member or friend with a chronic mental or physical disability.[1] 

Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents may include traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, amputations, and orthopaedic fractures. The trauma, stress, and care needs associated with these can cause caregivers to develop psychological injuries of their own. Studies have shown that the higher the intensity of care a loved one requires, the greater the impact on the caregiver’s health.[2] People who provide care for their injured spouse or child are the most likely to have an elevated level of psychological distress.

Unfortunately, this psychological distress may begin to significantly impact a caregiver’s life – even if they were not involved in the motor vehicle accident that injured their loved one. They may be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and/or other mental illnesses which then requires them to need medical treatment such as counselling or medication. Likewise, someone may be diagnosed with these illnesses after witnessing a loved one sustain injuries in a motor vehicle accident.

If this has happened to you then you should be entitled to $65,000.00 in treatment, paid for by your no-fault accident benefits insurer. In some severe circumstances you may even be entitled to up to $1,000,000.00 in treatment. 

Pursuant to the Statutory Schedule of Accident Benefits (the ‘SABS’), an ‘insured person’ may be entitled to up to $1,000,000.00 in treatment if they are deemed to be catastrophically impaired. The SABS were created by the government to ensure that accident victims have access to medical and rehabilitation benefits and to reduce the hardship that motor vehicle accident victims may face.

Recently, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice – Divisional Court held that people who were not involved in a motor vehicle accident but who suffer psychological or mental injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident that injured their family member can apply to their accident benefit insurer for a designation of ‘catastrophically impaired’. In its decision (Kellerman-Bernard v. Unica, 2023 ONSC 4423) the Court emphasized the importance of ‘fostering fairness’ for victims of motor vehicle accidents. This important legal ruling may lead to more treatment for caregivers and/or family members of injured people.

Thomson Rogers Is Here To Help

If you have suffered severe psychological distress due to injuries that a loved one sustained in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to apply for a designation of ‘catastrophically impaired’ that entitles you to up to $1,000,000.00 in treatment and care. Additionally, you may be entitled to ‘Income Replacement Benefits’ in the amount of up to $400.00 a week if you have been unable to work.

Please feel free to contact a personal injury lawyer at Thomson Rogers to talk about your options.

For more information about accident benefits for family members of those injured in a motor vehicle accident please click here.

If you are experiencing ‘caregiver’ burnout we recommend visiting https://ontariocaregiver.ca/for-caregivers/ or calling the 24/7 Ontario Caregiver Helpline at 1-833-416-2273 (CARE).

Additionally, your local or regional Brain Injury Association may have resources available to you if you are caring for a loved one with a traumatic brain injury. Please visit https://caregiverinfo.ca/ for more information.


[1] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11858-eng.pdf

[2] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11858-eng.pdf

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