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It’s golf season.

People use golf carts on golf courses.

People get injured using golf carts.

Sounds really weird when you put that in writing, but they’re all true statements!

People get injured in very strange, and sometime very serious (often catastrophic) ways in the use or operating of golf carts.

Do I have an explanation as to why this happens? I can put out a few theories:

1. Alcohol. Drinking on the golf course is a thing. Alcohol impairs your judgment. This impaired judgment and liquid courage to do things you normally wouldn’t can lead to disaster.

2. Inexperienced golf cart drivers. There is no driving test to operate a golf cart. Anyone can operate one on the course. It’s not like there are police officers on the golf course pulling people over for their erratic driving

3. Driving on terrain not suitable for a golf cart. Golf carts don’t really operate as a traditional off road vehicle with the large grippy tires, roll bars, or reinforced panelling. They tend to be flimsy buggies, meant to transport people and their golf clubs on relatively even terrain.

4. Speed and erratic driving. The top speed of a golf cart isn’t very fast, but it’s just fast enough to cause serious injury.  They aren’t meant for rolling hills, steep drops, or sharp turns at their top speed. Their centre of gravity isn’t the best, and they’re prone to tip over, unlike other off road vehicles which have a wider base and lower centre of gravity. They aren’t bumper cars, or dune buggies, though people tend to operate them as such.

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Your relationship with your personal injury lawyer can be a long one.

Some personal injury cases last many years (over 5+)!

Do you really want to endure 5+ years with a lawyer who you don’t like? Of course not! That’s why it’s very important to pick the right personal injury lawyer at the outset of your case. It’s an important decision which you should not take lightly.

Here are a few considerations when selecting a personal injury lawyer. Some of these tips may shock you, but we wouldn’t list them if we didn’t see them happen to innocent accident victims.

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For those unfamiliar with personal injury law, and more specifically, the law surrounding motor vehicle accidents (car crashes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian-car accidents, bike-car accidents), the idea of what the law should be and how it works is perceived to be rather straight forward.

Car accident. Innocent accident victim not at fault. They were in the wrong place, and the wrong time and sustained injuries. Those injuries ought to be compensated by the car insurer for the at fault driver. Case closed.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work in Ontario.

We have take an easy to understand event (a car accident) and complicated that event tremendously.  The complexities have been created by the government at the behest of the insurance industry in order to keep the number of car accident claims down; and to limit the compensation available to innocent accident victims.

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You have been bitten by a dog.

The dog bite isn’t a small one. Rather, it’s quite a serious injury which will leave permanent and emotional scaring.

Your local Animal Control Unit is investigating the case, and has filed charges against the Dog Owner. But the charges, and the potential conviction will not pay for your past or future care costs, let alone compensate you for the pain and suffering which you have endured.

You retain a personal injury lawyer (hopefully one from Goldfinger Injury Lawyers) to help you get the compensation which you deserve.

If your case went to trial, you would win. It’s a pretty “open/shut” case whereby you were in the wrong place, at the wrong time. You did not provoke the dog. It was no muzzled, and the owner had lost control of the dog leading to the attack.

A Judge will have no problem finding liability against the dog owner, and that the dog caused your injuries. Needless to say, a Judge will rule in your favour and order that the Defendant pay you compensation for your injuries and future losses.

But this is not enough for a dog attack case.

Dog attack cases begin, and they end, on insurance coverage. The cold, hard, truth, is that in the overwhelming majority of dog attack cases, an innocent Plaintiff will only get paid the full value of what they are owned when there is insurance coverage for the dog attack. If there is no insurance coverage, then there is a strong likelihood that the Plaintiff will not recover what they are owned, or not make any recovery at all. When there is no insurance coverage, a Plaintiff cannot get blood from a stone.

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Sometimes personal injury cases are investigated by the police.

Sometimes, criminal, or quasi criminal charges will be laid on the Defendant (the at fault party).

What does this mean for your personal injury case, and how will your personal injury case be impacted by these charges and the ensuing police investigation?

Good questions!

This edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog will attempt to answer those questions, and more!

Criminal and quasi criminal charges happen in all types of personal injury cases.

In drunk driving cases, people are charged with the criminal offense of impaired driving.

In distracted driving cases, or for other driving offenses, people are charged under the Highway Traffic Act.

In sexual assault cases, the offending party can be charged under the Criminal Code as well.

When charges are laid, it triggers a police investigation, regardless of the severity of those charges.

The police have strong investigatory powers in order to complete their investigation into the incident. They can issue search warrants to search property. They can seize all sorts of records (medical, cell phone, business etc.). They can summons witnesses, who tend to cooperate more with police than they would with a personal injury lawyer for a civil case. They can call people in to the police station to give a statement, or take a statement (recorded or videotaped) from the parties in order to get a better idea of what took place.

The goal of the police in their investigation is to get down to the truth of what happened. The evidence which the police gather will assist the Court in determining whether or not the accused is guilty, or not guilty. If there isn’t enough evidence there to support the charges, or there isn’t a likely prospect of conviction, the charges will be dropped (in theory).

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On June 22, 1990, the Ontario Government introduced the threshold for general damages in car accident cases. This meant that each injury needed to be deemed as a “serious and permanent impairment” of an important physical or psychological function. If the personal injury did not meet the medico legal threshold in the eyes of a Judge, then the case on damages for pain and suffering would fail,; regardless of fault. This seemed rather harsh to an innocent accident victim, but it was the new state of car accident law in the Province of Ontario.

The reason the threshold was introduced by the Ontario Government was to reduce the amount of personal injury claims. The fewer claims, the less money that insurers would need to pay out. This would save insurance companies huge sums of dollars. Those savings were intended to be passed along to every day drivers; like you and me. This is important because having car insurance in Ontario is mandatory when you drive a car. That makes car insurance a hot button election issue. Drivers want cheap insurance. Cheaper insurance was the promise from insurers and the government when the threshold was introduced. This was the trade off and the handshake deal between insurers and the government.

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Law shows on television make the litigation process look so easy! Why can’t my personal injury case work like that?

There’s generally a formula for legal dramas on television. That formula has worked for a very long time for shows like Law and Order.

Within the first 5-7 minutes (or earlier) there is a crime or some sort of problem which requires police intervention. The next 8-15 minutes, that crime is investigated by the police at the scene of the crime and research is done at the police station. Witnesses are interviewed, different characters are introduced. The viewers are led to believe one thing, when the show takes a sharp turn and points the litigation finger at a party you least expected to have a motive to commit the crime. The police catch the “bad guy“, and the show comes to a satisfying close. All of this is accomplished in the matter of a short half hour show, less time allotted for commercials (so even less content is required for the producers of the show).

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I’m not a big hockey fan.

But, I love watching the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I want them to win.

But I really don’t care if they lose. I certainly don’t live and die by their wins, or by their losses. While I am somewhat indifferent to hockey, it’s always nice to see a winner in Toronto and to see frenzied Leafs fans. It’s nice to get caught up in the excitement.

Yet, part of me smiles thinking that the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967; when the NHL had just 6 teams! Please don’t characterize me as a Toronto Maple Leaf hater. I’m not. As I said, I want them to win. I’m just pointing out an objective truth.

All of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup victories came at a time where they only had to be better than 5 other teams! Each year they had a 1 in 6 chance of winning at Stanley Cup. Just by fielding a team, no matter how good or how bad the team; they had a 16.67% chance of winning the Stanley Cup! Those championship odds are remarkable in North American professional sports.

To paint those pre 1967 Stanley Cup victories as remarkable achievements and a sacred part of the franchise’s hockey history is kinda ridiculous. It serves to demonstrate how futile the franchise has been since 1967. It’s like gloating about beating 5 of your cousins in a potato sack race at the annual family picnic.  Ever since the league expanded to beyond 6 teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs have never won a Stanley Cup. Take that in and soak it up.

Does the franchise care about winning; or do they care about something else (money). The two are not mutually exclusive, but I would argue that the focus since 1967 has been largely on profits rather than the on ice product. There was a large period of time (the Ballard years) where winning was an after thought. To their credit, the modern Toronto Maple Leafs want to win, but just don’t know how.

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This might seem like a very niche topic for the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog as it relates specifically to Ontario teachers seeking to claim, or who have been denied long term disability benefits by The Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP)

The reality is that there are a lot of teachers out there. Teachers have access to long term disability benefits and tend to read blog posts like this. Teaching is a difficult profession where bad days get noticed very quickly by the students and aren’t tolerated. Going in to teach a class day in day out in pain when you aren’t there 100% mentally isn’t good for anyone.

OTIP long term disability polices are some of the most complicated long term disability policies out there. It’s not because OTIP is trying to be difficult towards its membership, or has intentionally made the policies complicated to confuse teachers and to trick them out of getting benefits. It’s just that there are a lot of moving parts for teachers, and a lot of money at stake.

For starters, teachers on average earn a very good and stable income. They generally receive regular raises, and they have access to rehabilitation benefits to help them get better. Teachers are unionized employees as well which adds another layer of potential confusion (like why isn’t my union helping me pursue the long term disability claim?).

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Recently, a post went viral on Tik Tok of a York Regional Police officer checking out his mobile device while driving at what appeared to be a high speed.

It would seem unfair that a police officer would be driving around in his police cruiser checking out his cell phone because if members of the general public did the same, they would be given a ticket.

But is it?

There is a caveat in then Highway Traffic Act which permits police, fire and emergency responders to use the mobile devices while driving. There are likely good policy reasons behind these laws, but I cannot say for certain what policy reasons those might be. I can certainly make assumptions that using a mobile device as a police officer, fireman or emergency responder might be required.

Here is what the Highway Traffic Act has to say about operating your mobile device while driving:

Display screen visible to driver prohibited

78 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway if the display screen of a television, computer or other device in the motor vehicle is visible to the driver.  2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Same

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle.  2009, c. 4, s. 1.

Hand-held devices prohibited Wireless communication devices

78.1 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device or other prescribed device that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communications, electronic data, mail or text messages.  2009, c. 4, s. 2; 2015, c. 27, Sched. 7, s. 18.

Entertainment devices

(2) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway while holding or using a hand-held electronic entertainment device or other prescribed device the primary use of which is unrelated to the safe operation of the motor vehicle.  2009, c. 4, s. 2.

Exceptions

(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to,

(a)  the driver of an ambulance, fire department vehicle or police department vehicle;

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