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TORONTO INJURY LAWYER BLOG
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In case you haven’t noticed, the white stuff we call snow is all around us. It’s causing some slippery conditions for motorists and pedestrians alike. Just getting around your respective city or town, whether it’s a booming metropolis like Toronto, or a small Town like Omemee (home of Neil Young, just outside of Peterborough), you have to be careful.

We get calls everyday from people seeking our assistance with their personal injury claim. In order to build a case from the start, we need evidence. Cases are built on evidence. Some evidence is not permanent; meaning that it can get lost or evaporate in to thin air.

Many people who are injured in an accident don’t understand this concept, and it’s very important to do so.

In a car accident case, the police are often called to the scene of the accident to investigate fault (liability). Fire and Ambulance may be called to the accident scene as well. All of these emergency personnel, in a perfect world, are supposed to take notes, interview witnesses to get their account of the story, take measurements of the accident scene, and take photos. All of that evidence gets preserved.
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Every injury case is different. That’s because every person is different; every accident is different, every injury is different; and everyone’s pre and POST accident health is different.

But, there are many similarities to personal injury cases.

For starters, all car accidents will involve some sort of motor vehicle. Liability; the legal term to describe whose fault is the accident will be examined. The severity of the injuries will be examined. And, the cause of those injuries (causation) will be examined. The concept of damages will also have to be examined.

In order for lawyers, judges and juries to get answers to the above noted topics, they will all ask very similar questions to get the information they need to assess your case.

In this respect, many lawyers can predict and prepare our clients for the questions their clients will be asked during the course of their personal injury case.

And, it’s for those very same reasons that we here at the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog will now provide you with a list of commonly asked questions of accident victims during the course of their case. We’ve picked some pretty obvious ones, and some not so obvious ones that you would never soon guess.
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We would all like to think that the law is the quest for the truth. It’s the pursuit of justice. It’s establishing before a Court of Law, what’s right, and what’s wrong.

In a perfect world, our courts should work that way. All cases should be heard quickly, before a Judge who knows and understands the issues; before a Jury who’s interested and doesn’t dose off; where witnesses don’t lie or fabricate the truth on the stand; where experts give their honest opinion instead of what somebody pays them to say.

Unfortunately, our Justice system doesn’t work that way. All too often we see cases which are built upon fabricated, flawed, inaccurate or faulty evidence. Often cases aren’t about the truth, it’s about what can, and can’t be prove in Court. Sometimes, proving the truth gets clouded because evidence has been tampered with, destroyed, or the credibility of witnesses has been destroyed.

I was recently directed to a case from a lawyer colleague of mine in Ottawa which was covered in the Toronto Star. This case was a perfect example of how flawed or faulty evidence gets in the way of the truth and has the potential to ruin a person’s life.
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Below is a fantastic write up of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law which will be featured in the “Legal Elite” issue of London’s Business Magazine to be released in February 2015.

After several years working a reliable factory job, Ken didn’t know where to turn.
He was off work with a repetitive strain injury, initially identified as something akin to tennis elbow. Eventually, he learned that was a misdiagnosis. What he really had was spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that causes intense pain, numbness and weakness in the arms.

I lost 70 per cent of the strength in my arms, and I couldn’t work,” he recalls. “I fell into depression about the whole situation.”

Because he had been misdiagnosed, his insurance company refused to pay benefits when his WSIB coverage ended. Unable to work, with no idea when or how he would ever recover, he and his family were on the verge of losing their home, outside of London.
“If I had kept doing what I was doing when I thought it was tennis elbow, I could have done even more damage. I could be paralyzed now,” he says. “We had virtually no money coming in. We were desperate.”

That was when they called Brian Goldfinger, a London lawyer who specializes in helping people fight back against insurance companies and other institutions.

“We just found his number and called,” Ken says. “We had never met him before, but he turned to be the best thing that could have happened to us.”

In December, the insurance company agreed to a lump sum payment that eased the financial burden Ken and has family had been feeling for the last four years. “It was a great Christmas,” he says. “We had food this year.”

Goldfinger personally helped Ken and his family throughout the process, negotiating with the insurance company and ensuring a fair settlement. “He kept us informed the whole way and really fought for us. He was on our side the whole way,” Ken says.

Goldfinger opened his office in London around 5 years ago when he moved to the area. He also has offices in Toronto and Peterborough, helping people across Southern Ontario deal with long term disability claims and the fall-out from car, motorcycle and bicycle injuries.

“We are there from the moment someone is injured, helping with decisions they must make at a time when they’re in crisis,” Goldfinger says. “We visit people in hospital, at home, wherever they need assistance.”

The firm never represents insurance companies and focuses entirely on accident law – everything from brain and spinal cord injuries to dog bites and drunk driver negligence.
“We’ve helped people in all kinds of situations,” he says. “Initially, it can look desperate, but we work with our clients to help them get the settlements they deserve so they can work to restore the lives they enjoyed previously.”

Consultations are always free, and the firm does not get paid until it wins a settlement for a client.

“I don’t know what we would have done without Brian,” Ken says. “What he did for us has given me a lot of hope to move forward. We can’t thank him enough.”

Flattering article which sums up our law firm along with our clients’ experiences rather well.

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One of the most important, exhausting and difficult part of any car accident or personal injury case prior to trial is the Examination for Discovery process.

An examination for discovery in Canada, is akin to a deposition in the United States. The reason I make the comparison is because with the popularity of American legal dramas such as Law & Order, Suits and Boston Legal (May you Rest in Peace), more Canadians are familiar with the term “deposition” rather than “discovery“.

Here in Canada, we use the term “discovery” to describe the process whereby one lawyer, asks a party to the legal action questions under oath which are recorded by a Court reporter.

Examinations for Discovery can take place at a variety of locations. There are professional reporting offices across Ontario. They can take place in hotel conference rooms, board rooms, even in a quiet large restaurant; provided that the parties agree to the location and there is a reporter on site to get down every word that’s said during the discovery process.

During the examination for discovery, the opposing lawyer may ask questions which you may not have the answer to immediately, but it might be at home in your records, or the information may likely become available if requested at a later date.

The lawyer representing the client being examined, can then “undertake” to provide an answer to that question at a later date (within 60 days), or undertake to request and or produce the information requested. This is called an “undertaking“. These undertakings are very important to the legal process.
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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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