Employment today is a far cry from the days of stability and rigidity. Now, a person’s employment history can look radically different, including long stints of unemployment, underemployment or, increasingly, self-employment. Luckily, legislation does provide access to compensation for anyone whose employment situation defies easy categorization. Generally, in car accident cases, income replacement benefits are payable to eligible claimants under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, who are substantially disabled from performing the essential duties of their previous occupation. After 104 weeks of disability, the claimant must be disabled from performing any occupation for which they are reasonably suited by education, training and experience.

Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, governing car accidents, contains some provisions regarding income replacement benefits for a variety of employment scenarios. If you were employed for the previous 52 weeks at the time of an accident, the income replacement benefit is calculated as 70 percent of gross income, maxing out at $400 weekly.

But many people don’t fall within this neat category. Under section four you are also eligible for benefits if, at the time of the accident, you were:

  • unemployed but did work at least 26 weeks out of the previous 52 leading up to the accident
  • receiving EI (Employment Insurance) benefits
  • self-employed

If you were self-employed when the accident took place, you may be eligible to receive the weekly maximum of $400. But determining eligibility and the benefit amount requires detailed calculations of income and expenses for the self-employed and often an insurer will enlist the help of an accountant to come to a decision.

To get a more accurate picture of income, the insurer might use as a guide the income earned in the entire fiscal year before the accident, rather than just the last 52 weeks. Under section six, if a self-employed person incurs a loss because of their injury, they may also be eligible to recover a majority of that loss, up to the weekly maximum of $400.00.

The non-earner benefit is another feature of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, designed to help individuals who don’t qualify under the income replacement category. It can be paid out in a few different scenarios for people who can no longer continue a normal life; for example, if you completed your education less than a year before the accident and were employed in a position that didn’t reflect that training, the individual may be entitled to the benefit of $185.00 per week. Non-Earner benefits are not paid for the first six months of disability and the claimant must meet a very high disability standard, which results in a “complete inability to carry on a normal life”.