COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

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Lock Down Life has been no fun for anyone. Regardless of your socio-economic background, political views, or religious beliefs, this Pandemic has been difficult for everyone for so many reasons. Unless that is if you’re a high profile cabinet minister taking some time off for a vacation to St. Bart’s. Sounds nice. If only we could all be Minister of Finance and depart for St. Bart’s in the midst of a global pandemic where non-essential travel is barred.

Speaking of non-essential travel, our new favourite website during the Pandemic has been the Arrivals log on the Pearson International Airport website. 

Why, just today, international flights have come in from all over the world including Istanbul Turkey; London UK; Shanghai China via Seoul Korea; Toucumen Panama; Lisbon Portugal; too may American cities to mention, along with multiple other domestic arrivals. Not to mention the departures to such exotic locations as Mexico City, Mexico; Doha Qatar; Sao Paolo, Brazil; New Delhi India; Lima Peru and the list goes on. But you need not worry. We’ve all been promised that none of these people flying have COVID, and all travellers pinky promise to quarantine for 7-14 days depending on who you ask as it’s clear as mud. While all of these travel plans go on to this day, Ontarians are on a strict lock down such that they can only leave their homes for essential purposes, but you are kinda free to fly wherever you like. And if you’re a politician who makes up the rules for masses, then these restrictions are completely arbitrary and likely don’t apply to you. Go figure. The Government “For The People” continues to be the most ironic term ever. More like Government for Me (and by “Me” I’m referring to the political ruling class and their buddies; everyone else really doesn’t matter).

As a personal injury lawyer, we’ve seen a lot of changes to behaviour during the Pandemic. The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer is to examine those Pandemic trends which have really made us shake our heads.

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The clashes taking place in Washington DC earlier today got me thinking about assault cases. It’s a mess what’s happening there.

We have seen a spike in calls during the pandemic with regard to physical violence. I can tell you there’s a lot of rage inside and outside homes. People are fed up of being locked down and are either taking matters in to their own hands, or taking out their frustrations on other people (family and strangers a like).

Goldfinger Injury Lawyers certainly doesn’t endorse the use of violence. Victims of violence often call our law firm to get the compensation which the deserve.

The problem however with these types of assault cases is recovering money on behalf of our clients. This is a very common problem in assault cases and I will share with you why in today’s instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

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Long Term Disability cases are at their essence, contract cases.

In a long term disability case, there is a contract of insurance between the Plaintiff and the Defendant. The contract is between the Defendant insurance company (Great West Life, Canada Life, Manulife, Sun Life, Empire Life, Desjardins Insurance, SSQ Insurance, Co-Operators Insurance, RBC Insurance, La Capitale Insurance etc.) and the Plaintiff policy holder.

A car accident case for pain and suffering or a dog bite case is very different because there is no contract between the Plaintiff accident victim and the at fault party. These are straight tort cases. Accident benefit cases for first party insurance are certainly different, but the legal principal is the same given that the cause of action for tort cases is not contractural. In both car accident and dog bite cases the cause of action is in negligence against the at fault party.

The policy holder can be a company which covers all of its employees (a group policy through your employer), or it can be an individual policy of insurance.

In the case of an individual policy of insurance, the policy holder goes out and purchases the insurance on their own either directly through the insurance company, or through an insurance broker. The insurance broker may sell a variety of different policies underwritten by a variety of different companies. Variety is the spice of life, so getting options to purchase your insurance is a good thing. That way the consumer can compare and contrast prices, definitions, exclusions and benefits between polices. Having a good and knowledgable insurance broker is very helpful when comparing and contrasting long term disability policies.

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We made it. Post # 500!!!!

It’s one thing to prepare posts of few words. But we’ve been pretty consistent here at the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. Each post has on average 1,000 words.

So 500,000 words later, do we have any greater insight than when we first began? Do we have any new words of wisdom for those trying to prepare a successful legal blog?

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Long Term Disability claims aren’t simple.

I wish they were, but they just aren’t.

The amount of money you are entitled to is based entirely on your age, income, the set offs you are receiving or have received in the past, and what your long term disability policy says about the duration and quantum of benefits payable.

Are the benefits taxable or not?

Are the benefits eligible for COLA indexing?

Does the definition of disability change at the two year mark from your “own occupation” to “any occupation” or was an “own occupation” rider purchased under the policy?

Is there a means test under the Policy and if so, what is the percentage of income or income allowable?

Each long term disability policy is different.

There is no “master policy” for every employee out there. While some policies may look the same; they carry different nuances which often translate to very large differences.

When a group of employees has access to a variety of collateral benefits; things like private or public pensions (old age or disability); HOOP Benefits; OMERS Benefits; CPP; other disability benefits, vacation pay, sick pay, union benefits etc. things get complicated fast.

The more benefits available, the more complex the case.

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I think it’s fair to say that North American society has become more skeptical over the years. We are more skeptical of government. More skeptical of science. More skeptical of our leaders. More skeptical of large businesses. More skeptical in general.

Or perhaps, a more accurate comment is that social media has amplified voices for skeptics and conspiracy theorists alike.

The internet has also amplified our access to information and misinformation as well; thus giving rise to easily accessible and LOUD opinions online.

What always amazes me is that with the vast amount of information available at our fingertips; that people don’t research very basic things about their health; particularly when it comes to car accident cases.

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After you’ve been seriously injured, or even not so seriously injured in a car accident, or motorcycle accident in Ontario, the injured party; regardless of fault is entitle to accident benefits.

This is what Ontario’s “no fault” scheme of accident benefits is all about.

If you are not at fault for the car accident you’re entitled to receive accident benefits.

If you are completely at fault for the car accident you’re entitled to receive accident benefits.

If you were the passenger of a vehicle involved in a car accident you’re entitled to receive accident benefits.

If you were a pedestrian or cyclist struck by a motor vehicle; even if you don’t know the identity of the other driver; guess what: you’re entitled to receive accident benefits (even if you’re at fault for causing the car accident in the first place!).

Crazy right? Even if you cause the accident, you are entitled to receive accident benefits to assist with your recovery, attendant care needs, income replacement benefits or non earner benefits.

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The cost of Physiotherapy is NOT covered by OHIP. That means that if you need physiotherapy, someone needs to pay for it.

The cost of chiropractic treatment is NOT covered by OHIP. That means that if you need chiropractic treatment, someone needs to pay for it.

The cost of out of hospital occupational therapy is NOT covered by OHIP. That means if you need to see an occupational therapist,  someone needs to pay for it.

The same applies to psychotherapy, massage, cranial sacral treatment, nutritionist, a rehab coach, a PSW, an RSW, social work for a car accident case outside of hospital, speech language therapy, neuropsychological testing, driver retraining, case management services, psychology (not to be confused with psychiatry); even some forms of medicinal cannabis for pain management are not covered by OHIP.

All of these services are very important to accident victims for the long roads to recovery following a accident; motor vehicle or otherwise.

If the accident victim has their own form of collateral benefits with an insurer like Blue Cross, Manulife, SunLife, GreenShield, Canada Life etc.; some or percentage of those benefits may be covered. Most policies differ; but it’s not uncommon to see a cap for these services set at around $500 or $750 per year.

If the accident victim was involved in a motor vehicle accident; or an accident arising from the use or operation of motor vehicle s/he will have access to accident benefits to pay for these services.

The level of accident benefits available to each person varies depending on the coverage purchased under the policy along with the degree of injury. For the most minor accidents, people will only have access to $3,500 in benefits. For more serious accidents there is a blended level of $65,000. For the most serious accidents, there is $1,000,000 available in coverage.

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Personal Injury claimants seeking monetary compensation for their injuries and damages (think car accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, long term disability cases) commence their civil claims in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

This is not to be confused with a Criminal proceeding or Highway Traffic Act case. Criminal Cases and Highway Traffic Act cases do NOT involve awarding the injured party monetary compensation for their damages or losses. Rather they seek to determine whether or not the accused broke the law, and if s/he did; then determining what is the appropriate punishment.

Another way of thinking about it, is that Criminal Cases and Highway Traffic Act cases are commenced and led by the State against the Accused to prove that the law was broken and to penalize the accused for their wrongdoing. It’s the public which starts and funds the case.

In contrast, civil claims are commenced by individuals or corporations using their own private funds to seek compensation for their injuries or damages. That’s not to say that a public entity cannot advance a civil claim for compensation or damages.

Civil claims are largely about money and compensation. Criminal Cases are largely about rights and protections of the person.

Most people have never set foot inside of a Courtroom, so they have no idea what Courts look like or how they work.

If people have set foot inside a Courtroom, it’s likely not have have been for a personal injury case or a case before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

For most people, when they go to Court, it’s on a Bi-Law matter dealing with Municipal Enforcement (like a dog bite or a property dispute with the City), a traffic offense or parking ticket (Highway Traffic Act or Municipal Bi-Law), a Criminal matter or a Family Law case. Rarely is it a personal injury case.

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My first case reported in the media was a dog bite claim. It involved a woman who has been diagnosed with PTSD. She had an emotional support dog to help her cope. One day on a walk outside of her the common area of her apartment complex; two unleashed pit bulls attacked and killed her emotional support dog, and attacked my client as well leaving both physical and emotional scars. The story was covered by a number of news outlets because pit bull bans were a hot topic; and it was a very ferocious attack leaving serious and long lasting injuries. The case eventually settled out of Court for a substantial sum. Whenever the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog covers the topic of dog bites, I’m reminded of this case which still has a place in my heart.

If you’ve walked around your block during the pandemic and seen an increase in the number of dogs; you’re not seeing things. There has been a spike in the purchase and adoptions of dogs during the pandemic. It makes sense. More people are at home with time to care for a dog. People have been cut off from friends and family and are looking for another form of love, support and connection. There’s no better time to get a dog then when on lock down I suppose.

But with dog ownership comes great responsibility. Take away the vet bills, cost of food, accessories, training etc. It’s estimated that many of these new puppy purchases and adoptions will lead to an increased number of dogs being surrendered and shelter numbers going up.

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