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Additional Insight/Thoughts on the Ice Storm


December 28, 2013,

The calls and queries continue to roll in following the ice storm. The anger and frustration around the GTA has been quite remarkable. People are upset for a variety of reasons: lack of power; lack of information; duplication of information; useless information; lack of timely repairs; a certain deputy mayor going to Florida and the list goes on.

A colleague of mine forwarded me his thoughts on the ice storm. His thoughts were spot on, and thought provoking. He's allowed me to share these thoughts with you. I'm sure that you'll find them interesting. Here you go:

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Toronto's Ice Storm: I want to sue everyone and I want to sue everyone NOW!


December 26, 2013,

The first wave of calls have come in following Toronto's Ice Storm of 2013. Lots of angry and frustrated people out there. But who can blame them?

The ice storm has been called the most devastating storm to hit the City of Toronto and the surronding area in decades. Some call it the worst storm EVER.

Our thoughts go out to the thousands of families who remain without heat or power around the GTA. Our Toronto Office at Yonge and Sheppard was without power for 3 days. Business came to a stand still. But having not power at our law firm pales in compairison to all those without heat or power in their homes for the holidays.

This is where COMMUNITY comes in to play. Be a good neighbour and check up on the elderly, disabled, or those who live alone. Don't leave fires unattended. Don't use a generator inside of your house. Make sure that the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector are working. 9V battery? put your tongue to it. If your tongue burns; then your battery is good. No burning? Then no power. That's some caveman advice for you.

One of the biggest misconceptions during the storm were the reporting numbers of the amount of people left in the dark. The Hydro Authorities and Municipalities identified the number of "customers" without power. The term "customers" does NOT mean people. This means buildings, houses, businesses etc. Reporters in the media didn't seem to understand that customers didn't mean people. So, when they heard customers, they confused that number with people.

Toronto Hydro estimated that each customer represented around 2.5 people or so. Accordingly, 1 customer = 2.5 people according to their estimates. So, when Toronto Hydro indentified that approximately 315,000 "customers" were without power at one point in time; that meant that 787,500 people were without power (or MORE according to their estimates). This distinction between "customers" and people is SIGNIFICANT as the multiple increased by 2.5x.

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Am I living in a Dictatorship? Ontario Government changes how YOUR no fault car insurance works..yet again!


December 18, 2013,

Without any consultation, communication, notice or debate, your very own Ontario Government has changed how the laws surrounding no fault accident benefits work yet again! No formal announcment was made. Simply a release of the legislation.

In a normal democracy, when laws or amendments to laws are passed, they are first debated, studied, and put to a panel of experts and to the public to get their feedback. The voting public is put on notice of the proposed law or changes and a debate/discussion ensues. It's all nice and out in the open for people to debate and to better understand.

Things aren't supposed to be slipped under the carpet without you knowing. Heck: even the Harper Conservatives abide by these simple principals. It's just good public relations.

But NOT your Ontario Government. Particularly when it comes to car insurance. Ontario's government (no matter who's in power) always likes to sneak things in when we don't expect it. No vote. No debate. No discussion. Just put it in there just like how it's was done in Communist Russia, and in today's China and North Korea.

Today, the Ontario Government RELEASED Ontario Regulation 347/13. It comes in to force on February 1, 2014 and will be printied in the January 2014 Ontario Gazette. That means that only personal injury lawyers and people in the insurance industry know about the changes right now. It will become more common knowledge come the new year after it's published in the Ontario Gazette.

You've never head of the Ontario Gazette? Don't worry about it. Neither had I until I went to law school. I suppose it's an elitist publiciation which nobody except lawyers, law students and policiticans read. So, there's a very good chance that if you don't read this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post, you won't know or understand how car accident law has changed yet again.

Why should you care about O. Reg 347/13? Read on and find out!

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Winter gear is not only safe, but it's "cool": Winter Safety Tips from Goldfinger Personal Injury Law


December 11, 2013,

When I was young, there wasn't such a thing as a cool pair of winter boots. There certainly wasn't such a thing as a must have winter jacket. Wait a minute. There was such thing. First it was the "SunIce" ski jacket which was very popular. Then, it became the black team apparel "Starter" jackets with hoods branding such teams as the Chicago Bulls or the LA Raiders; which had their logo on the breast and across the back of the coat. Am I dating myself? Perhaps.

But, for the purpose of this Toronto Injury Blog post, dating myself doesn't matter.

Winter apparel has always been an industry in and of itself. I just think that it's blown up in the past few years. Yesterday, Canada's biggest name in winter gear, Canada Goose sold a majority stake in their family owned/operated company to US Venture Capitalists, Bain Capital. The same Bain Capital that Mitt Romney ran. Details of how much money the deal was for have yet to be disclosed, but from what I understand, the deal is worth somewhere in the 9 figures. If the people at Bain are willing to invest over $100 million in to a winter apparel company, then that should tell you something about Canada Goose's product and brand.

But, Brian, how on earth does this relate to personal injury law?

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Case settled! Now what? Still more paperwork? Understanding Releases, Settlement Disclosure Notices and a bit of Drake


December 4, 2013,

When I show clients their files, often; they are astounded by the amount of paper involved in handling their case.

Even in a "paperless system", we still print medical records, medical reports, pleadings etc. for mediation memos, briefs and Affidavits of Documents. At the end of the day, personal injury law involves a LOT of paper.

One of the most important pieces of paper which accident victims will likely sign in the course of their case is something called a "Release". If you're signing a Release, that means that like 99% of civil cases out there; that your case has settled outside of Court. Congrats.

A lot of our clients get worried when they're asked by an insurer to sign a Release. They think that they're signing their lives away by signing it. That should not be the case. Your lawyer should explain to you exactly what you're signing, and why you're signing it.

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Relating Personal Injury Cases to Purchasing a Home: A Mediator's Tool


November 27, 2013,

When one of our clients is asked how much they think their case for pain and suffering is worth, they will often tell you that it's worth $1,000,000 or more. It's understandable why anyone would put such a high price on their own individual pain and suffering. Can you really put a price on these damages?

Canadian Courts have.

Unfortunately, the system for quantifying damages for pain and suffering is unfair to accident victims in Canada. Why? Because it's impossible, at law, anywhere in Canada, to recover $1,000,000 or more for you pain and suffering.

It's this way because back in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on three decisions, commonly referred to as "the trilogy".

In those cases, the Supreme Court established a cap (or limit) for damages for pain and suffering. Back in 1978, that cap was placed at $100,000. Today, with inflation, that cap is around $350,000. This is the absolute MAXIMUM which you can recover for your pain and suffering in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada established this cap because they did not want our civil justice system, turning in to a free for all legal system like you see in many parts of the United States.

So, even at trial, if a jury awards you $1,000,000 for damages for your pain and suffering, the Judge will then limit that award to $350,000 or below. The Judge would probably instruct the Jury to return to the deliberation room and come back with another figure for damages for pain and suffering.

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Medical Records: the Trump Card in personal injury cases


November 21, 2013,

Lots of people think that all lawyers do all day is talk. It's a a common misconception. Perhaps, there are some lawyers who spend their entire days talking; but not me.

The majority of my day is spent listening. I listen to Judges. I listen to Masters. I listen to other lawyers. I listen to insurance adjusters. But, most importantly, I listen to my clients and to prospective clients telling me their stories.

Every day I'm told from my clients how they're struggling managing their pain; how they're struggling making ends meet; how they're feeling down and sad since their accident; and how their accident has turned their life upsidown.

Accident victims have lots to say about their case, how it happened, and what their injuries are. Their testimony is important, and can be very persuasive to insurers, judges and juries. But, sometimes, the MOST PERSUASIVE evidence isn't verbal; it's written and hidden in the scribbles. What do I mean by that? Read on and find out.

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How liability laws for winter time slip and fall accidents work in Ontario: The Law is Against you


November 12, 2013,

If you or a family member is the victim of a fall on snow, ice, or slippery winter conditions, the following Toronto Injury Law Blog Post is a "must read".

If you're just a legal keener interested in somewhat educational legal read, this Blog Post is "pretty cool"; as the kids would say.

It's not just little old ladies who slip, fall and hurt themselves during the winter months. It happens to everyone, of all ages, shapes and sizes. Physically fit, or not so trim. It doesn't matter. Snow and ice doesn't discriminate.

First thing you should know, and which you or a loved one should do after a winter slip and fall is take a picture of the area where you slipped and fell. Chances are that if you don't the area will have changed significantly. Guilty property owners are notorious for clearing up patches of ice after the fact.

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Winter's Coming: Game of Thrones? No. Seriously. It's getting cold outside. Top Winter Safety Tips


November 9, 2013,

Yes. I know. Cute Game of Thrones reference. Which, by the way, season # 4 is scheduled to begin in early 2014 and...spoiler alert...the first episode will feature the death of an important character. Who you ask? You'll have to wait and see.

In any event, the temperature is dropping across Ontario. I visited the Peterborough Regional Health Sciences Centre earlier this week and it was COLD. I was in Mississauga Friday for a discovery and it was COLD. I was in London this week and it was COLD. A client of mine from the Kitchener-Waterloo area told me that it had snowed 10cm overnight. I'm told that it was snowing in Barrie and in parts of Northern Ontario. Winter's coming to the Province, if it's not already here.

So, before the streets and sidewalks get too messy to drive on, here's a friendly reminder of what you should do in order to be safe this winter on our roads.

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Tips for safe Trick or Treating this Halloween


October 31, 2013,

Happy Halloween from Goldfinger Personal Injury Law! Halloween's a fun Hallmark Holiday which everyone can enjoy. I remember getting really excited to go out trick or treating and returning home with bags full of candy.

But, in my years of work, I've seen some nasty accidents which occurred on Halloween night. Trip and falls, pedestrian/car collisions, drunk driving accidents. Where I grew up, there was also a fatality where a driver lost control of his car and collided with a tree. The driver didn't survive the crash.

Nasty things happen on Halloween night. Don't believe me? Here's an interesting assault case and social host liability case based around a young adult party at a parents' home which got out of hand on Halloween night. The case was tried at the Superior Court in Ontario. The young adult hosts served 56 bottles of beer, 24 bottles of vodka coolers, along with 2 bottles of rum, one bottle of vodka and a bottle of peach schnapps. Guests also brought their own alcohol. An assault ensued at the party, and the young adult host, along with the parents who owned the house got sued by the victim. It's an interesting read and just goes to show that some crazy stuff happens on Halloween night.

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Hourly rate vs. Contingency Fees in an accident case: What's best for you?


October 23, 2013,

There is a cost to justice when you pay your lawyer by the hour. And that cost doesn't come cheap.

Personal Injury Lawyers are the only lawyers I know who routinely and without blinking, take on cases which last years and years on end, without getting paid on an interim basis. We don't ask for any monetary retainers. Essentially, we take the case for free and then, through skill, wit, hard work, experience and determination; achieve a monetary settlement or secure a judgment for our clients.

I cannot think of any other business or industry which operates on such a model. Want to get your house painted? The painter will likely ask that you pay a deposit, or pay for some materials up front. It's only after the painter receives that deposit that the painter will begin to work. The painter will then get paid the balance upon completion of the job.

When you visit the dentist, they invoice you or your insurer immediately after treatment. If you're not happy with the dentist's work, the invoice still comes. There's never any real risk that the dentist won't get paid.

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What is "dooring" and why is it a big deal for accident lawyers?


October 17, 2013,

Cycling is cool. It's not expensive. It's fast. It's healthy. You don't need a license or insurance to ride. It's better for the environment. It's "on trend" in today's global urban market. And if you're smart, you can accessorize with a flashy (yet safe) helmet and make all of your peers jealous.

But cycling accidents aren't cool. They hurt. In an accident involving car vs. bike, it doesn't take a forensic engineer to understand why the cyclist will usually come out with the most serious injuries. 600lb car vs. 20lb bike? Brain Injury, broken bones, fractured ribs, road rash aren't uncommon. Some of the most catastrophic accidents we see at our law firm involve cyclists.

Space to operate cars and bikes on urban Canadian streets is coming at a premium. With so many commuters operating in close quarters, accidents are bound to happen.

We've seen a new phenomenon of late. The term "dooring" is entering the personal injury lexicon. Never heard of dooring? That's ok. It's a relatively new word. Here's CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge explaining exactly what dooring is on The National.

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All about Examinations for Discovery in Ontario Accident Cases


October 10, 2013,

What's an Examination for Discovery?

This is an opportunity for the lawyer for the insurance company to ask you all sorts of questions, while under oath, about your accident case.

It's called an Examination for Discovery because the purpose of the exercise is to "discover" more about you, your injuries, the accident, and your case.

It's the first, and likely the only time that the lawyer for the insurance company will get to meet with you, face to face, and ask you questions under oath. It's important to make a good impression at discovery. Why you ask? Well, if you don't present well, or if you don't come off as a likeable, credible, or geniune person, then it's likely the lawyer for the insurance company will report this back to his principals. They will likely devalue your case, or make it a more difficult one to settle.

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An example of what NOT to do once your accident case has begun


October 4, 2013,

Johnny Careless was an interesting fellow. To say that he went against the grain is an under statement. Johnny rode his bike without a helmet. He drove his car without wearing a seat belt. He crossed busy intersections against red lights and don't walk signals. He texted while driving. He wasn't one to follow rules. Whether it would be the rules of sport, the public library, or the rules of the road provided under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act. He was, quite simply, a careless individual.

Johnny was going nowhere fast. But all that changed one fine autumn day when Johnny was a passenger in his buddy Ricki Rhodes Chevy Camaro. Ricki was just like Johnny, a careless guy who didn't much care for rules. Ricki was driving at excessive speeds along Highway 401, West of Mississauga, and lost control of his car causing it to strike head on into the side rail. Johnny didn't remember what happened. He lost consciousness in the accident. All he remembers is waking up with blood on his face, on a stretcher with flashing ambulance lights glaring at him. Doctors told Johnny that he sustained a traumatic brain injury, along with a fractured ankle and 4 broken ribs. Ouch is right.

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The Case of the $1,000,000 Ankle Fracture (Encyclopedia Brown Edition)


September 26, 2013,

I just wanted to begin this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post by first making quick reference to one of my previous entries. It's the one dealing with how the OPP's privacy legislation can impact your case, which was published on July 30, 2013. You can check it out in the Archives of the Blog here.

Our office received 2 OPP Motor Vehicle Accident reports last week; along with the police officer's notes, driver statements, witness statements etc. from 2 different accidents. We paid around $150 for each set of records. That's $300 for all you math majors out there.

The purpose really for requesting these records is to find out who's the bad guy, where they live, their license plate # and other information so that we can track these wrongdoers down, and conduct any criminal or offense investigations in relation to this particular accident, or previous accidents. You also want this information in order to get the address for service of the Statement of Claim. You can't serve a claim on a person without an address with an Order for the Court for Substituted Service.

What did we get from the OPP?

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