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When it comes to litigating Long Term Disability Claims, many disabled claimants don’t know where to start.

How do I sue?

Who do I sue?

Can I sue my own insurer?

If I sue, will I get fired?

How much can I sue for?

Will my case go to trial?

If my case settles, how does the settlement work?

How much do I have to pay a lawyer?

All of these are valid questions. The reality about our law firm is that around half of our clients have NEVER consulted with a lawyer, prior to meeting with one of our personal injury lawyers.

To take that statistic to the next level, did you know that over 95% of our clients have have NEVER consulted with a civil litigation lawyer before (a civil litigation lawyer is a lawyer who sues in Court; personal injury law falls under the realm of civil litigation).

The reality is that a great majority of people are not only new to the legal system, they are also new to the concept of having to sue for denied benefits. It’s understanding this reality which makes us perform betters as lawyers and advocates on behalf of our clients.

With that heartfelt preamble, we prepare the latest installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog in an effort to help others not so familiar with the law, better understand how the legal system works (when it comes to long term disability matters)

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Members of Goldfinger Personal Injury Law attended at a legal conference a few weeks ago. It had all sorts of lawyers, spanning a multitude of different practice areas. It was great chatting with different lawyers outside of the realm of personal injury law to hear about their success stories and struggles. Even though we may have practiced in completely different areas, we managed shared a lot of common ground aside from just being “lawyers“.

In one particular conversation, the lawyers at Goldfinger Injury Law were sharing our stories about the delay in having some of our accident cases heard in a timely matter. Even since the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Jordan, we were still seeing significant delays on the Civil end of things.

The Criminal lawyers we were sharing that story with looked a bit perplexed. Those lawyers had seen a noticeable push by the Courts to have their cases expedited (even if it wasn’t in either party’s best interest).But when he heard that Court resources were being shifted to the criminal sphere at the expense of other areas (like car accident, disability and personal injury law), those lawyers seemed upset.

One lawyer in particular shared with me that he believed the legal system as we know it was rotting away, seemingly faster every day; and that only the lawyers on the front lines truly understood the decay. With the delays in Court, the lack of judicial resources, the depletion of the legal aid system; only the truly rich and wealthy will have the means to advance their claims, and endure the wait time (and associated legal bills) to have their day in Court.

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What is an Examination for Discovery?

Examinations for Discovery are normal. They occur in nearly every civil action (personal injury, or not), in Ontario.

This is an opportunity for your personal injury lawyer to ask the Defendant at fault driver, or insurance adjuster a series of questions which are answered under oath. Your lawyer will ask the at fault party some very simple questions, along with some more pointed questions in order to get more evidence about the case at hand.

The same way your personal injury lawyer gets to ask the at fault party questions; the lawyer for the insurer gets to ask the Plaintiff accident victim, or Plaintiff disability claimant questions of their own.

The insurance defence lawyer will also ask some very simple questions like:

What’s your name?

Whats’ your current address?

What’s your date of birth?

Are you married?

Do you have any dependents?

What is your highest level of education?

Where were you working before the accident?

The insurance defence lawyer will also have some very pointed, more specific questions for you about your case:

Do you recall telling Dr. Smith that your back hurt on such and such a date?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the pain in your back?

Would you describe the pain in your neck as a sharp stinging pain, or a dull ache?

Would you describe the collision as a light, medium or heavy impact?

Do you recall hearing the sound of a honking horn, or tires screeching prior to the collision?

How many car lengths were between your vehicle, and the other vehicle the FIRST time you saw it? What about the SECOND time you saw it?

How much time elapsed between the time you saw the at fault vehicle and impact?

Do you recall what Dr. Smith said to you at your medical appointment on September 10,1982? (of course you don’t, this was all the way back in 1982!!!)

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The snow has melted. The sun is shinning (sometimes); and the weather is getting less miserable. It’s time to go outside and enjoy the fresh air.

For many, the turn of seasons from winter to spring, means riding your bike to work. In fact, from May 29-June 30, 2017, it’s Bike Month! The City of Toronto hosted a Ride your Bike to work day on May 29th to kick off Bike Month. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during Bike Month, Cycle Toronto will be hosting commuter outreach stations along busy cycling routes all around the city. You can stop by to get a free Bike Month 2017 branded tote bag full of giveaways from one of their official partners.

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My law firm gets calls from people all across Ontario with respect to Long Term Disability claims. The questions cover a wide range of topics from:

  • Am I entitled to LTD benefits?
  • What can I do if the LTD insurer denies my claim?
  • How can I apply for LTD benefits?
  • Is it too late to sue?
  • Should I appeal the LTD insurer’s decision not to pay LTD benefits?
  • How many times should I appeal the insurer’s LTD denial?
  • How much is my LTD case worth?
  • How do LTD benefits work?
  • Where can I get my LTD application paper work and how do I fill it in?

One of the reasons people have so many questions when it comes to their LTD claim, is because few people have ever read their LTD policies; LTD claims are the exception for employees; not the norm; and people simply don’t understand how these benefits work.

In fact, we even have people calling our office for completely different reasons (car accident, slip and fall, motorcycle accident), only to find out months, or sometimes years later that they have long term disability coverage through their employer! Some people don’t even know they’re covered!!!

As an aside, this awareness of your rights dovetails in to personal injury lawyer advertising. Insurers don’t want to see lawyers advertise. To be fair, some well connected personal injury law firms don’t want to see other personal injury law firms advertise either (but that’s a different topic).One of the reasons which insurers don’t want to see personal injury lawyers advertise, is so that the general public is kept in the dark when it comes to understanding their rights. The later an injured accident victim, or LTD claimant understands their rights, the better for an insurer.

Case in point: The recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Usanovic v. Penncorp Life Assurance Company also known as La Capitale Financial Security Insurance Company 2017 ON CA 395 (CanLII). This Ontario Court of Appeal decision was released on May 18, 2017.

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If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario, and you’ve been injured, you will need to report the collision/accident to a car insurer.

Despite what you may believe, large car insurance companies aren’t run by computers. They have real live people who work there! Many work very hard and diligently to respond to your claim in a professional, courteous and timely manner. Others…not so much. Some insurers and their employees are better than other. But that’s not the point of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post.

When you call an insurer, you will speak with a real person who will take down your information, and the basic details of your car accident claim. That intake operator will then assign your claim to a person called an “adjuster“.

An insurance adjuster is an employee or sometimes a third party contractor of a large car insurer who handles your case. They write to you, call you, send cheques, pay service providers, etc.

But different adjusters, handle different tasks and have different responsibilities. The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog post is to do our best to explain why there may appear to be so many adjusters assigned to your car accident case, and what each adjuster may (or may not), do.

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Did you know that May is Motorcycle Safety Month? Unless you’re a personal injury lawyer; the answer is likely “no”. Well…It is!

So, what does that mean for the average person? Probably not much…But, injury lawyers like me are trying to raise awarness of motorcycle safety and motorcycle injuries through social media posts such as this one.

The Ministry of Transportation keeps road safety and accident stats in something called “Ontario Road Safety Annual Reports“. The most updated ORSAR is a 2014 report which shows the following interesting stats for road safety:

Total Fatal and Personal Injury Collisions in 2014: 34,064

Total drivers involved in fatal and personal injury collisions: 64,202

Total vehicles involved in fatal and personal injury collisions: 64,736

Persons Killed in Motor Vehicle Collisions per 100,000 people: 3.52

11.6% of Motor Vehicle Fatality Claims were Motorcycle Fatalities 

Of the 64,736 vehicles involved in reported collisions in 2014, 1,206 were motorcycles or mopeds. Of those 1,206 vehicles, 54 of those claims resulted in fatalities.

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One of your benefits through work may be a form of Long Term Disability Insurance. LTD Insurance can also be purchased outside of work privately, through a policy which follows you from job to job. Having an LTD policy is always a good thing. You can also have more than one.

Long Term Disability insurance is provided by a large insurance company or bank like Manulife, Great West Life, Sun Life, Industrial Alliance, SSQ, Desjardins, Standard Life, RBC, Co-Operators etc. These are some of the most common insurance companies we see which provide LTD insurance across Ontario. If you’re reading this installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, chances are that you may have LTD coverage with one of these companies.

The purpose of this coverage is to ensure that you get paid in the event of serious illness, or disability which prevents you from working for an extended period of time.

An insurer will pay an monthly LTD benefit. The quantum of that LTD benefit depends on the wording of your policy along with your pre-disability income. We commonly see LTD polices which will pay out a range of between 60-80% of the claimant’s monthly pre-disability income. Continue reading →

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Yesterday our law firm participated in a private global mediation in Hamilton. As an aside, if it weren’t for lawyers, this downtown Hamilton office tower would not exist. It seemed like every floor housed a law firm. One of the few floors which didn’t house a law firm was a Reporter’s Office for Examinations for Discovery, Mediations, etc (where lawyers go).

A drunk driver hit my clients.

Liability was not contested. It was abundantly clear to all of the parties that my clients didn’t get in their car that day intending to get hit by a drunk driver.

Their vehicle was a write off following the collision. It was a bad collision.

The at fault driver plead guilty to drunk driving and his license was suspended for 13 months. No doubt, his insurance premiums went up. But, as of today’s date, he is back on the road and driving with the rest of us.

My husband/wife client were shaken up after the collision. The husband sustained the worst of the injuries. The wife was able to tough through the pain, and get back to a semblance of brining normalcy back to her life. But the reality for both is that their lives will never be the same following this drunk driving collision.

It only seems fair that they be compensated for their injuries, pain and suffering. So you would think…

The law in Ontario is, for lack of a better term, TERRIBLE for innocent accident victims. I have no other way of describing it.

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You know what’s confusing?

Car accident claims.

Even for personal injury lawyers who concentrate their practices exclusively on car accident claims; these claims can be confusing!

A recent report commissioned by the Government of Ontario (The Marshall Report: Fair Benefits, Fairly Delivered) affirms this opinion. Car accident claims; specifically accident benefit claims along with the legislation surrounding those claims is overly complicated and needs to be simplified.

As an aside, if you would like to read about Goldfinger Personal Injury Law’s commentary on the Marshall Report, you can certainly do so here by reading our previous week’s installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. Our law firm was commenting on the Marshall Report as early as April 12, 2017. It seems that major news outlets only caught on to this story around April 19, 2017; which is about a week after we wrote about the story. Lesson: For up to date personal injury news, information and commentary look no further than the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

Our comments on The Marshall Report are worth a read. We believe many industry outsiders are off base and out of touch with the reality of modern day car accident litigation in Ontario. And this is where we come in. To better help educate the Average Ontario Driver who is understandably flummoxed by how car accident cases work.

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