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Many people ask Brian Goldfinger what it takes to build a successful personal injury case. Is it having the best personal injury lawyer? (not that any personal injury lawyer can ever say that s/he is the best because that’s against the law). Is it having the best client? Is it having the best back end data retrieval software? Is it having the best rehab team working on your case? Is it having the best looking business cards to intimidate the insurance company into submission? Is it having the best doctors treat you? Is it having your personal injury lawyer commission the best medico-legal reports from the best experts?

The truth is that building the best personal injury case is much like building the best home. There is no such thing as the best home. There are great, well built homes. But everyone’s opinion of what the best home is; is entirely subjective. The best home is the place which you lay your head to rest and call home. Some homes are fancier than others. Some homes can do with more. But we all get by with what  we’ve got and we make the most of our situation.

A successful personal injury case is much like a well built home. A well built home requires a lot of advance planning, practical and sometimes unique design, quality materials, experienced and skilled labour.

A personal injury case requires a lot of advance planning, practical and sometimes unique design for the case; quality materials in the form of records/reports, along with experienced and skilled lawyers to optimize a superior result on behalf of the client.

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In a perfect world, the Courtroom presents a level playing field. There are rules which are meant to be followed. There is a neutral unbiased judge who acts as trier of fact; decides right from wrong; just from unjust.

When the rules of the Courtroom are tweaked, those tweaks have unintended (or sometimes secretly deeply calculated) consequences.

With this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, I would like to present to the general public what some tweaks in our Courtrooms can do to the Average Joe/Jane at trial.

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Personal injury law should be simple.

Plaintiff sustains an injury in an accident (the damages component).

Defendant’s negligence caused the accident (the liability component)

Plaintiff’s injuries directly caused as a result of the Defendant’s negligence (the causation component).

Any personal injury case without all three of these components will fail. When you put it out in such easy to understand terms, it would seem that personal injury litigation is very straight forward.

But it’s not.

Insurer’s will challenge the Plaintiff’s position every way until Sunday. That’s their job. Insurance companies don’t gratuitously throw money at claims which they don’t believe have merit. And even claims which they believe have merit are viewed through a difference valuation lens than then injured accident victim and his/her personal injury lawyer. Translation: The injured Plaintiff will think that their case is worth a lot. The Defendant insurer will think the opposite. Getting parties to agree to a valuation of damages can be a tricky exercise.

Aside from the normal defense tactics of surveillance (both in person and online), defence medical examination, digging in to one’s pre-accident history and testing their credibility at each step; there are other barriers to a Plaintiff’s recovery which can be even more difficult to overcome than a tactful defence lawyer.

It’s those hidden barriers to recovery which we wish to examine in this week’s edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post.

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The OCF-10 Election Form is important for your car accident case in Ontario. By completing the OCF-10 Election Form, the injured accident victim is telling the insurance company which benefit they are choosing to receive.

Completing the OCF-10 Election Form incorrectly, or late; can hurt a car accident case and prejudice your right to claim and recovery accident benefits which you will need to help make you whole.

Without further a due, here are Goldfinger Injury Lawyers’ Top Tips on completing the OCF-10 Election Form.

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I looked outside my window today and saw SNOW! Yuck. That means it’s slip and fall season in Ontario. A large proportion of the personal injury cases at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers are slip and fall cases. A large proportion of those slip and fall cases arise from slip and falls on snowey/icey/slippery surfaces caused by lack of, or improper maintenance. In many of those cases there is no maintenance at all which adds significant exposure to the Defendant property owner.

Given that it’s slip and fall season in Ontario, the team at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers would like to keep you up to speed with some do’s and don’ts for your slip and fall case. On this list are some common misconceptions when it comes to handling these cases.

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It’s that time of year again. Halloween! I loved Halloween as a kid, and still do! The idea of going door to door and getting free candy still astonishes me. It can bring a community/neighbourhood closer together.

Each year I put out a blog post regarding Halloween safety tips, and this year is no exception. The only caveat is that I’m getting out this installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog out a bit later than I would have liked; but emergencies have a tendency of popping up and ruining well intentioned plans.

One of the common threads of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog around this time, is that my law firm sees a spike in calls post Halloween related to pedestrian/car accidents (essentially trick or treating accidents).

I had no scientific data to back up my claims other than the internal call tallies we keep at my law firm regarding the nature and circumstances of the calls coming in year after year around this time.

But UBC issued a proper scientific road study finding a 43 per cent higher risk of pedestrian deaths on Halloween night than on other nights near that date. Kids aged 4 to 8 faced the highest risks in the new study: There were 55 Halloween deaths in this age range compared with just 11 on control days. Deaths peaked near dusk, around 6 p.m.

The study was based on four decades of U.S. traffic data, including 608 pedestrian deaths on 42 Halloweens. I found this study in the Owen Sound Sun Times through the Associated Press. A link to the Owen Sound Sun Times article can be found here. More on Owen Sound a bit later, but very quickly, thanks for all of the calls coming in from Owen Sound and Bruce-Grey County. We are enthusiastic to enter the market and look forward to serving the community as best we can.

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Completing the Application for Accident Benefits is the single and most important step in any car accident case.

Without a completed Application for Accident Benefits, your car accident case; both for tort and accident benefits won’t get off the ground.

Failure to complete an Application for Accident Benefits can nullify your claim, no matter how legitimate that claim might be.

So where does one start? Good question!

After you’ve been involved in a serious car accident; or accident arising from the use or operation of a motor vehicle (motorcycle; bike/car; car/pedestrian; truck), you will first need to contact your own insurance company.

Sounds crazy right! Why on earth would you have to call your own insurance company to report a car accident that wasn’t even your fault.

But that’s how Ontario’s no fault system of accident benefits works. Regardless if the at fault driver was drunk driving, while texting and smoking cannabis all at the same time causing him to run a red light; you will still need to contact your own insurance company to make an accident benefit claim.

Your own insurance company is responsible for paying those accident benefits. It gets trickier if the injured party is a pedestrian, cyclist, or a passenger without insurance. It gets even tricker if none of the vehicles involved in the car accident didn’t have car insurance. That’s what insurance lawyers and personal injury lawyers are for. Sorting out those tricky and ever complex coverage disputes which insurers seem to love to argue over.

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October 17, 2018 will go down in history as the day which Canada legalized recreational cannabis (and mark the beginning of the Kwahi Leonard era began for the Toronto Raptors).

Some cheered. Some geered. Many were indifferent.

There is certainly a strong case to be made for the decriminalization of recreational cannabis when looking at our criminal justice system.

What does that mean? It means that your average Joe/Jane won’t get charged or risk having a criminal record for smoking a joint or having a few grams of marijuana on his/her person. It means that our criminal Courts and valuable judicial resources won’t be clogged up hearing smaller marijuana cases, so they can focus on more pressing matters. It means that organized gangs which control the underground cannabis and drug market won’t have as much power peddling their products (or perhaps they will have more power depending on who you ask. Looking at Ontario Cannabis Store prices and selection, you can see why…).

There is also a strong case to be made when looking at the tax revenues generated by the regulation of recreational marijuana.

What does that mean? It means that now that the government controls the sale of cannabis, they can tax the hell out of the product. There are high sin taxes for alcohol and cigarettes. The same sin taxes apply to recreational marijuana. Those taxes will generate millions and millions in revenues for the government to use one way or another to presumably benefit the Canadian people (let’s hope).

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This edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is from the mind of our founder and directing lawyer; Brian Goldfinger.

Brian spends a lot of time of the phone speaking with prospective clients; existing clients; insurance adjusters; doctors and opposing lawyers. But most of Brian’s time on the phone is spent answering questions from new and existing clients.

One of the most commonly asked questions of Brian Goldfinger is “how long will make case take to settle?

Brian hears this question in a variety of cases spanning from catastrophic car accident cases; slip and fall cases; motorcycle accident cases. But it seems like this question is most frequently asked in the context of long term disability cases. I don’t know why this is. It just is (if that makes any sense).

In the context of a long term disability case; keep this in the back of your mind. If your long term disability insurer liked your case; and believed that you had a claim they would have paid you by now and you wouldn’t need a lawyer. This statement is half true. It’s half true because even if you have a meritorious long term disability claim, some insurers will just deny you for the sake of denying you because they would rather keep their money instead of paying you out in the hopes that you never retain a personal injury lawyer to fight your long term disability case. For many long term disability insurers; denying claims only to have them litigated is part of their business model. This is why they have an army of in house lawyers at their disposal. To fight long term disability cases like yours at minimal cost. Farming the long term disability work to outside counsel became too expensive. Long Term Disability insurers found it far more efficient and cost effective to hire and grow their in house legal teams to fight long term disability claims. The in house legal departments at Sun Life Insurance, Desjardins, Manulife and Great West Life have all (from my perspective at least) appear to have grown in size and scope of practice.

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A recent appeal heard in the Ontario Divisional Court made my blood boil.

Why? Let’s set the context for modern car accident and personal injury law in Ontario.

Being a personal injury lawyer is an uphill battle. It’s a real life David vs. Goliath fight featuring what’s usually an unsophisticated accident victim of limited means who has never litigated a case in his/her life vs. a highly sophisticated multi billion dollar insurer whose litigation costs are a part of its business model.

The Plaintiff is seriously injured and looking to get the compensation they deserve so they can move on with their lives as best they can.

The Defendant is looking to minimize their cost exposure by any legal means necessary. The Defendant insurer will conduct “independent” medical examinations by doctors who are paid directly by the insurer or through third party contractors (also paid by the insurer) to defeat a Plaintiff’s case. The insurer will conduct in person and cyber surveillance to find out what a Plaintiff is up to to defeat their case. The insurer will constantly test and re-test the credibility of a Plaintiff because they don’t believe what they’re saying. The insurer has an unlimited war chest at its disposal.

Those are just some of the pitfalls and hurdles which personal injury lawyers have come to expect from the combative state of modern personal injury litigation in Ontario.

But there are also procedural pitfalls and hurdles which an injured Plaintiff must overcome as well. And it’s one of these procedural hurdles which is the focus of this week’s edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

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