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The stereotypical image of an injured accident victim in a personal injury case involves a person in a wheelchair, wearing a neck collar, with multiple casts on their legs and arms. Their lawyer is pushing the wheelchair from behind, in to a Court room, parading them before a Judge and Jury so that they can get an appreciation of their injuries.

Some paraplegia and quadriplegia accident victims are certainly like this. These case are no joke. But not every case is a involves paraplegia or quadriplegia.

In most cases, broken bones mend such that the injured accident victim is no longer in a cast at the time of their trial, hearing or mediation; which can take up to 5+ years to get to following a serious accident if things get delayed.

Most injuries are invisible to the judge, jury and insurance company. These might be scars under concealed clothing. Or they might be injuries to the brain, mind, psyche, emotions and cognitive abilities of the injured party. These injuries cannot be seen at first blush. But with some probing and some digging in to the medical evidence, they will come out with the assistance of a skilled lawyer by your side.

Following a serious accident, one of the first things which a lay person first notices are the physical injuries like the broken bones. What can get missed are those other invisible injuries I’ve just eluded to. Unlike broken bones, which can get better over time; these invisible psychological and cognitive injuries get worse and become more pronounced as time passes.

These invisible injuries often come on when somebody bumps their head, losses consciousness or sustains a concussion following a traumatic accident. The accident can be severe such that an MRI picks up spotting on the brain. Or it can be light such that the head simply whips back against the head rest causing a bad knock to the head whereby your mood and cognitive symptoms get worse over time. When these sort of injuries occur, lawyers are able to categorize them as brain injuries. All brain injuries are severe; although some are more pronounced than others. There is no magic pill to make a brain injury go away. There is no cast for the brain. No magical cream, balm, application or band aid to make the brain better. It’s a delicate organ in your body that can’t be replaced.

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Here’s the scenario:

You’ve been working diligently for the same employer, at the same job for years. You’ve given it your all. Countless hours of pain staking work. The job pays well. You have some great colleagues at work. And you have a benefits plan that you believe is fantastic. Part of that so called benefits package is disability insurance; which; in theory; you’ve been told will cover your wages if for whatever reason you can’t return to work on account of injury, illness or disability. You know little about the disability plan because you’ve never had to use it before and you’ve never missed out on work for a prolonged period of time. Your past work attendance has been excellent. Your performance reviews are always top notch.

And then; things happen to change. Some really bad luck. A fall here that never quite heals. You throw out your back on account of a minor slip and fall. Or perhaps chronic pain starts to take over your body such that you can no longer focus, get out of bed or function like you used to. Or maybe you just aren’t the same person any more on account of psychological illness like anxiety, depression, sadness or a combination thereof. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with chronic pain or fibromyalgia. Whatever the reason, disability happens. Unfortunately, it’s a part of life for many. And when disability happens, you would hope that your long term disability insurer and employer are both there to support you when you need the help the most. After all, you’re the all star employee who has given it his/her all over the past 10+ years at work.

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This morning, I saw some of the most gruesome video tape of an assault I have ever seen in my years as a personal injury lawyer. The video depicted a horrific assault of one man, pummelling a defenceless man who had been knocked unconscious from a series of punches to the head.  Even though the man being beaten lay motionless on the ground, he was still being punched repeatedly in the face. Unlike a Mixed Martial Arts fight, there was no referee to stop to beating. It continued for what seemed to be an eternity. This was rated “R” footage that would have made anyone cringe. Even a personal injury lawyer such as myself who has seen some pretty nasty images over the years.

As a result of the serious beating, the injured party sustained a fractured orbital bone, along with brain damage. This does not take in to consideration the bruising cuts to the victims face. He had to be rushed to hospital in Toronto following the attack, where he remained for 3 days following his discharge home.

In years past, this assault would have been described by the victim or any witnesses in words; based on foggy memory. Those memories get even foggier as time passes. If the victim or the witnesses had consumed alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack, then chances are those memories are even foggier.

Around 10 years ago, when injured parties and witnesses were asked to provide their best recollection of the events giving rise to the claim, all they had to go was based on these foggy memories, notes, or perhaps photos taken at the scene.

But all of that has changed over the past decade. Cameras have gotten smaller and smaller; and those cameras now have video capabilities. Every cell phone on the market today, with a few exceptions, have both photo capability and video capability. And there are now more cell phones on the planet than people. Cameras are so small today, and can be connected to almost any computer device, they can fit on any surface; from a dashboard cam on a car; to the back of a pen/pencil.

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This will be a fun edition of the Toronto Personal Injury Lawyer Blog. First, we would like to congratulate our founder and directing lawyer, Brian Goldfinger, on his recent naming to the Legal Elite for 2016 by London Business Magazine. The Legal Elite recognizes the brightest and best legal minds in London, ON and Southwest Ontario. This is Brian’s second consecutive year being named to the Legal Elite. We are glad to see all of Brian’s hard work representing injured accident victims and disability claimants getting some fantastic positive recognition in the community. None of this could be accomplished without the hard work from the team of hard working lawyers, law clerks, rehabilitation professionals and support staff at Goldfinger Personal Injury Law which have helped Brian fight on behalf of his clients. A big thank you to everyone behind the scenes for making this award possible.

Here is a link to the feature article on Brian Goldfinger being named to the 2016 Legal Elite by London Business Magazine.

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Litigating Long Term Disability Claims (LTD Claims) can be tricky, especially when the injury is an invisible one; such as chronic pain or a psychological injury.

Firstly, it’s important to note that Long Term Disability Claims aren’t your typical tort or pain and suffering claims. These are special sort of cases.

What this personal injury lawyer means by that; is that the insurance company didn’t intentionally hire a hit man to whack you over the head with a sledge hammer to cause your pain and suffering. While it may feel like the insurer is intentionally causing you harm, the reality is, that in a vast majority of cases; they didn’t do anything intentional to cause your disability. We acknowledge that there are small exceptions where the behaviour of insurers is so outrageous and so disrespectful that it adds to the harm ; or causes harm. BUT, the reality is, that in most cases, while the insurer may have contributed to your harm by their denial of your claim, in the vast majority of cases; they likely didn’t cause you to be disabled in the first instance. The classic example of this was as stated: they didn’t hire somebody to hit you with a baseball bat to cause you to go on disability. Your health can deteriorate over time for a wide variety of reasons. Stress and anxiety from a denied LTD claim? Sure. But there are likely a wide variety of factors which have led to you being disabled from working.

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Goldfinger Personal Injury Law has four offices. Our first office opened in Toronto. This was followed by our second office in Peterborough. Our lawyers have long driven up and down a beautiful stretch of highway known has Highway #115. This is an Ontario Provincial Highway that connects Peterborough to Toronto by Highway 401. Highway 115 begins near Newcastle, and then proceeds north and ends at Highway 7 in Peterborough.

In the summer months, many cottage goers in the Kawarthas zoom along picturesque Highway 115 driving by quaint farmer’s markets, ice cream stands, kitschy motels, burger stands; sprinkled in with a few Tim Horton’s type of restaurants. It’s a beautiful drive in the summer.

It’s also a glorious drive in the fall with the changing of the autumn leaves.

The winter is when this drive can get dangerous. Not unlike many smaller highways in Ontario, Highway 115 isn’t particularly wide. It has two lanes for northbound traffic, and two lanes for southbound traffic.  The highway isn’t particularly well lit. There are no lights in most sections of the highway which can create visibility problems. Highway 115 is straight for the most part, so drivers may have a tendency to be aggressive on the gas. Or, they may not even realize how fast they are travelling.

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As the title of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog suggests, Winter Time is Slip and Fall time. When the weather starts to get cold, damp, slippery and icy, our law firm sees a spike in slip and fall related calls (sweet rhyme!). Some of these slip and falls result in some very serious injury. Being hospitalized and breaking bones as a result of a slip and fall is not only painful and debilitating; but it can also be very depressing, humiliating and embarrassing.

The reality is that in Ontario, these serious slip and fall claims happen, and we need to best understand how to deal with them so that you get the compensation you deserve.

So, without further a due, below is a quick sampler of the Goldfinger Guide to Better Understanding Slip and Fall Cases in Ontario. We have prepared the Goldfinger Guide in such a way that it’s easy to read, easy to understand, and hopefully; enjoyable as well (as enjoyable as you can get when it comes to reading about slip and falls).

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After a serious car or motorcycle accident, chances are you will need a wide variety of treatment. Some of that treatment will be covered by Ontario’s OHIP Healtcare System. That means if you have a valid Ontario Health Card, it will be FREE.  Seeing a medical doctor (not a chiropractor or a psychologist), a hospital visit, and even treatment through the Community Care Access System (CCAC) is all covered. This is fantastic news for accident victims, especially when you compare healthcare in Canada vs. health care costs for our neighbours south of the border.

Some treatment isn’t covered by OHIP. Things like physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic care, occupational therapy, speech language pathology outside of the hospital, psychology treatment, social work, rehab coach etc. All of these things are NOT covered by OHIP (with some exceptions). If you’ve been involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, chances are you will need at least one, if not a few of the aforementioned treatments. Without OHIP or collateral benefits, you will have to pay for these treatments out of your own pocket. If you aren’t working following a serious car accident, you likely won’t have the money to spend out of pocket on these treatments unless you’re incredible well off.

Here is the “good news”. When I put “good news” in quotes, it’s because I’m explaining a text book; best case scenario…And we all know at law; these text book best case scenarios rarely happen. That’s why there are so many personal injury lawyers around.

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This Holiday break, my family didn’t go away on a nice vacation. We stayed in town. Our offices were open, and I worked. The cities I visited (Windsor, London, Leamington, Toronto, Peterborough) were all very quiet.  It seemed like everyone was away somewhere else. The busiest place I saw was Masonville Mall and the Cineplex at Masonville in London, ON. Both were jam packed at really odd hours which I found rather strange; but that’s a topic for a different day.

A few hot shot Bay Street type lawyers I know recommended that I listen to the Pod Cast “Serial“. They knew I did considerable driving to meet with clients and listening to the Serial Podcast would be a great way to make the time pass. I downloaded Season #1 of Serial and binge listened. What a fascinating (but troubling) series of events. If you haven’t yet listened to it, I highly recommend you get in to it. The production quality and research that went in to the Podcast is nothing short of exceptional. The producers are well deserving of all of the accolades they have received. They ought to start practicing law!

Having got hooked on Serial, I proceeded to get hooked on the recent documentary “Making a Murderer” on Netflix. The documentary, filmed over 10 years or so tells the story of Steven Avery and his nephew Bobby Dassey, who were accused and later convicted of murder along with other charges.

The documentary pokes large holes in the case of the prosecution and advances the theory that the police may have framed Mr. Avery and Mr. Dassey in order to secure the conviction.

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Happy New Year to all of the readers of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog! We hope that the upcoming new year brings you  health, happiness and prosperity. We also want to thank all of our readers for their excellent comments, likes and shares. 2015 was a banner year for Goldfinger Personal Injury Law and the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog and we hope to build upon that success in 2016.

What’s new for 2016? Well, Ontario has a set of laws which have just kicked in pursuant to the aptly named “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act“. As an aside, Ontario along with other jurisdictions have a tendency of giving grandiose names to acts which make the public think that they are not only AMAZING, but also do what they say they do. The reality is that within these incredibly named acts, there are sometimes provisions which have little or nothing to do with the name of the Act as well. Sometimes, it’s a way for legislature to pass laws under the rug, without the public or media catching on. We often see this with car insurance and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule and the Insurance Act.

In any event, the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act is a fantastic name for a set of laws. Whether or not it will do what it purports to do is still up in the air.

Here’s what you need to know:

There are increased fines for violations at crosswalks, school crossings, and pedestrian crossings. Those fines are DOUBLED in Community Safety zones. Drivers will be fined $150-$500 along with 3 demerit points for such offences.

Staring January 1, 2016, drivers and CYCLISTS must STOP and yield the entire road to pedestrians at pedestrian crossovers, and at school crossings where  there is a crossing guard displaying a school crossing stop sign. These pedestrian crossovers are identified with specific signs, road markings and lights. The new rules do NOT apply to pedestrian crosswalks at intersections with stop signs or traffic signals, unless a school guard is present.

The Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act also gives municipalities the power to install new types of pedestrian crossings on low speed, low volume roads in addition to existing crossovers (think more speed bump crossings in a sub-division).

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