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Our law firm had a record number of Long Term Disability Claims settle in the last quarter of 2014. In particular, the last month of 2014 was a mediation bonanza for our lawyers when it came resolving long term disability (LTD) disputes.

One of the things which we caution our clients on when it comes to settling LTD claims are the tax implications of the settlement.

Damages for pain and suffering are non taxable. Damages for past and future income loss are taxable. But these heads of damages apply to tort claims such as car accident and general negligence cases (slip and fall, dog bite, etc.)

But what happens for Long Term Disability Claims when it comes to tax implications for the settlement?

Look no further than the wording of your policy. I will be in there. I guarantee it!

Some policies state that benefits are taxable. This means less money in the client’s pocket because they have to pay tax on any amount recovered.

Other policies state that the benefits are NOT taxable. This is much better for the client because they don’t have to pay the tax man for any amount recovered in the case.

If you don’t know whether your LTD benefits are taxable or not, then just ask your insurance broker, union rep or even your employer who is funding the benefits. They will have an answer for you. You can also call the insurer who is underwriting the policy (Great West Life, SunLife, Manulife, Equitable Life, SSQ, RBC Insurance, Co-operators, Desjardins etc.) and ask an agent directly. They will have an answer for you as well.

Effective January 1, 2015, Revenue Canada introduced some important rule changes which impact the tax implications on any taxable LTD settlement. If you have an LTD claim before the Courts, it’s very important to understand these rule changes because they will likely impact on your settlement.
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2014 is coming to a close and what a year it’s been.

Tonight, millions of people around Ontario are getting ready to bring in the new year in style. That means parties, gatherings, food and alcohol.

Many host parties at their homes and have questions regarding the safe service and consumption of alcohol.

Here are a few quick tips for hosting a safe new years party:

1. Make sure there are non-alcohol drinking options at your party/gathering. This means water, pop, juice, non-alcohol sparkling wine/punch. Get creative and have fun with it.

2. Have the number of a taxi company or car service on site. Some taxi companies have great fridge magnets which have their contact information which are always in good taste for displaying the night of your party.

3. Have one, or more designated drivers assigned for your party
4. Offer guests to stay the night in a guest room, or even on the couch if they’ve had too much to drink and can’t get home safely
5. Know where the nearest hotel is for your guests and let them know about it if they’ve had too much to drink
6. Friends don’t let friends drink and drive. Taking away your friend’s car keys might save their lives, or somebody else’s

When I think of New Years, I think of a very tragic case which happened in Ontario on New Years and went all the way up to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and then to the Supreme Court of Canada. The case is called Childs v. Desmoreaux and can be read here.

There is a theory at law called “social host liability”. This is when the injured accident victim seeks compensation from the injuries not just from the at fault drunk driver, but ALSO from the host of the party for over serving or not being responsible in the safe service of their alcohol at the party which the at fault driver attended before the drunk driving collision.
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We often get calls from people who have received, or are in the process of receiving WSIB (Worker’s Compensation) Benefits and now want to sue their employer.

Let me preface this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog by stating that our law firm DOES NOT handle WSIB matters. There are a handful of lawyers across the province who practice in this area, but those numbers are dwindling for a variety of reasons which should be the subject of a different blog post.

In any event, there are situations where an employee gets injured in the course of their employment. The employer may file a claim to the WSIB. The reason the employer does this so quickly, is because it’s the LAW to report any workplace injury to WSIB and to open a claim.

It’s then up to the injured employee to decide whether or not they want to pursue a WSIB claim, or whether or not they want to SUE using lawyers like the ones from Goldfinger Personal Injury Law. You CANNOT do both! In some instances, you cannot sue regardless of the situation. This all depends on whether or not your employer is designated as a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 employer. The good people at the WSIB will be able to assist you in that regard. You can find out more information on the WSIB from their website at WSIB.ON.CA
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One of the greatest weapons which an insurer has in their arsenal of defence strategies is surveillance.

For those of you who don’t know, surveillance is when an investigator follows an accident victim and films, records them, or takes photos of them when they’re out and about in public. For this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post we will NOT be examining the growing field of cyber/on line surveillance. Rather, we will dig deep in to the field of “old school” sleuthing surveillance where the Plaintiff gets followed or tracked by an investigator or team of investigators.

For most accident victims and disability claimants, they don’t know they’re being followed until it’s too late. Others recognize they’re being followed immediately, but still go on with their normal routine.

A picture says a thousand words. Pictures and film recordings in the context of a Judge along or Jury Trial in Ontario are very persuasive. Hearing a medical expert drone on and on about pain complaints can get very boring. BUT A MOVIE: now that’s exciting.

Think back to the days when you were in grade school. A teacher would lecture and the students would fall asleep. No matter how engaging the teacher, there were always a few kids in the classroom who never paid attention.

BUT, when the teacher brought in the television to play a movie, or to show some slides, even the kids with the shortest attention spans perked up.

This is exactly what happens in the Courtroom when the lawyer for the insurance company plays their surveillance video. All of the jurors immediately perk up to see what the investigators caught on camera. Those video and still images leave a lasting impression on the jury. It shows the Plaintiff in a light they don’t want to be seen in. It shows the Plaintiff engaging in normal every day life when they think there’s nobody watching. For those reasons, surveillance is a very powerful tool which should not be underestimated.
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One of the most important, most complex, and trickiest claim forms to complete following a car accident is the OCF-3 Disability Certificate.

Never heard of an OCF-3 Disability Certificate? That’s ok. Most people haven’t heard of any of these “OCF” claim forms until after they’ve been involved in a car accident.

There are many purposes to the form. But, the primary and general purpose of the form is to let the insurer know what injuries you’ve sustained as a result of the car accident.

The OCF-3 is completed by two people. The first half is completed by the accident victim themself, a family member, a lawyer, a friend, or a loved one. The first part of the form asks some very basic information which you ought to have no problems completing (provided that you can read and write in English). If English is NOT your first language, or you have problems reading and writing, then it’s best to get somebody else to complete the form on your behalf.

You will be asked for your name, date of birth, address, telephone number, and the date of the car accident. The trickiest part of the top part of the form is completing the section which asks you to describe how the car accident happened, along with the injuries you’ve sustained.

The insurer will look back to this section, and cross reference it with the medical and police records they’ve gathered throughout the litigation process. If there are any significant discrepancies, then beware.

Example: You say in this part of the form that the car accident was a t-bone collision and that the at fault driver also fled the accident scene. As a result of the t-bone collision, you’ve sustained a fractured skull, and 3 broken ribs. But the police records show that this accident was actually a rear end collision, and that you didn’t break any bones whatsoever. This will be a big red flag for the insurer, so be careful how you complete this part of the form. It’s best to consult a lawyer before submitting it to the insurance company. I have seen many a defence counsel refer and rely on these forms and accident/injury descriptions to hurt the credibility of injured accident victims, so don’t underestimate the importance of how you complete this part of the OCF-3 Disability Certificate.
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Last year around this time, our law firm published our top winter safety tips in the ever popular Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. If you didn’t catch those tips, you can read about them here.

Environment Canada is predicting a milder winter, compared to las year.The’re predicting less snow, less ice, and much warmer temperatures vs. last year’s harsh winter.

But ask yourself. Do you really believe Environment Canada!?!?! I swear, when they predict sun, it rains. When they predict sunshine, it rains. You get the picture.

In any event, would such a prediction from Environment Canada stop you from getting you ready for another Ontario Winter?

So, without further a due, here are Goldfinger Personal Injury Law’s revised winter safety tips for the 2014/2015 winter season. The old tips we previously published are still good,but these tips add to the old.
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One of the most interesting cases our law firm has ever handled, was a jail house assault matter in Sarnia Ontario.

The Sarnia Jail has been know for its overcrowding issues and violence. When you have too many people under one roof, things are going to get rowdy. When you have too many people under the same roof with poor supervision and deteriorating conditions, things are going to get bad QUICKLY. Nevermind the fact that none of those people in the jail want to be there in the first place.

And things sure did get bad for a client of ours. He was beaten repeatedly with a hunk of cement from a deteriorating jail house wall which was stuffed in to a pillow case to create a sling like weapon. The result was a traumatic brain injury, multiple orthopaedic injuries, along with permanent disfigurement to his fingers and ears. It wasn’t a pretty site.

Where were the guards in all of the commotion? How diid the guards not stop the beating, or prevent it from happening in the first place? Why didn’t the guards see an inmate with a hunk of cement wrapped in to a pillow case to begin with? How on earth does such a violent assaut take place on government premises?

All of these questions and more were asked by the lawyers trying this case.
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I was recently mediating a Long Term Disability Claim on behalf of a disabled client who worked for Canada Post.

She was diagnosed with a wide variety of ailments, including but not limited to:

– Disc Bulges at various levels requiring surgery – Chronic Pain stemming from her back radiating down her legs requiring her to use a can to walk – A Major Depressive Disorder – An Anxeity Disorder – Sleeplessness – Fatigue – Constant Headaches
It was clear to all of the lawyers and staff at our office, that she was completely disabled; not just from her own occupation, but from ANY occupation for which she qualified by reason of education, training and experience. It was clear to her treating doctors and medico-legal experts that she was not a candidate to return to her old job at Canada Post, or work at ANY occupation whatsoever. Nor, was she a candidate for retraining given her age and the nature of her disability which effected her stamina, concentration, memory and abilty to work and interact with others.
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It’s starting to get a bit chilly outside and snow is on the horizon.

Many snowmobile enthusiasts are gearing up for another great winter on the trails. Before you head out this season, the Court of Appeal just released an important ruling dealing with the importance of insuring your ATVs, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles.

So, before you hit the trails this winter, take a quick read at this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post so that you have all of your bases covered.

For starters, when you sign up for car insurance OR homeowners insurance, the broker (in person or over the phone) may ask you if you own any other vehicles aside from the car(s) which you are seeking to insure. These other vehicles can include ANYTHING with an engine. A scooter, a seado, a skido, a quad, a dirtbike etc.

Knowing how many motorized vehicles is important to the insurer so they can provide you as accurate a quote for coverage as possible. This is getting increasingly important with all of the E-Bikes we are seeing on the road.

It’s also important for you, the consumer to disclose this information because you don’t want to be riding on an uninsured motor vehicle; when that vehicle should have been insured. This is exactly what happened to Arthur Matheson on October 11, 2008. What exactly happened to Mr. Matheson? Read on to find out!
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If it sounds too good to be true; then beware! (free legal advice)

This saying applies to sales, services and deals we see in our every day lives. It even applies to legal fees in personal injury cases.

How so? Good question.

I’ve heard of injury lawyers quoting prospective clients that their “fees” will not be greater than 10% or 15% of the total value of the sum recovered.

This sound like an amazing deal, considering that nearly every accident lawyer who works on a contingency fee, or modified contingency fee basis charges in the range of 20%-30%, depending on the case.

So what would drive a lawyer to charge 10%-15%? Are they planning on working 10%-15% less than another lawyer who charges 20%-30%? Is the case so AMAZING that it warrants such a discount? Does the lawyer the client so much that s/he is willing to reduce their fees that much?

There’s gotta be a catch…..

There is! And I will tell you exactly what that catch is, and how these sort of lawyers hand it to you in a round about way.
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