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

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Lots on people who are applying for Long Term Disability insurance benefits; or who are receiving Long Term Disability benefits want to know why their insurance company is asking (or demanding) that you apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits (CPP-D).

What does one set of benefits have to do with the other? Why is my long term disability insurer so adamant that I apply?

All of these are great question and as personal injury lawyers who handle a lot of long term disability claims; we see them all of the time.

For starters, contained in the very very fine print of each and every single long term disability insurance policy that we have seen is a provision which states something to the effect that:

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A bad police report and a poor police investigation can be very harmful to an injured Plaintiff in personal injury cases.

In order for a Plaintiff’s personal injury case to succeed, the Plaintiff must establish that the Defendant was negligent (at fault) for the accident in question.

No fault against the other driver? No tort claim.

Regardless of how seriously injured the Plaintiff is; if the Plaintiff cannot establish fault against the other driver, they won’t have a successful tort claim. That’s not to say that they won’t have a successful accident benefit claim. Accident benefit claims are not subject to same the fault rules which we see in tort cases.

All too often, our office has seen police investigations in Ontario which frankly aren’t done properly. That’s not to say that all police investigations into motor vehicle accidents fall short. One bad apple (or a few bad apples) can certainly spoil the bunch.

There is no doubt that police resources are spread thin. Large jurisdictions like Toronto have a lot of ground to cover. Other more rural jurisdictions may not have ample resources. But the consequences of not getting the job done properly, or at all, can be devastating to a personal injury case.

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When you’ve been wronged and want to seek justice; you sue.

It’s sounds simple and it ought to be.

Trouble is, when it comes to accident benefit disputes following a car accident in Ontario, you can’t sue anymore. Your right to sue in Court and have your case heard before a Judge were taken away from you. That means that you can’t sue.

Understanding this concept for many innocent car accident victims is really hard to understand. It seems unfair and it is.

Instead of suing in the Courts, accident victims who are seeking compensation for their accident benefit claims follow a car accident are REQUIRED to apply to the License Appeals Tribunal Automobile Accident Benefit Service (LAT AABS) or simply know as the LAT.

The LAT is a Tribunal run by the Province of Ontario. It’s a strange place with its own unique set of rules, procedures and adjudicators.

It’s not uncommon for disputes to be resolved at a Tribunal instead of Courts. We see it in all sorts of places like the Human Rights Tribunal, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Ontario Land Tribunal etc.

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The Global Pandemic has been hard on people for different reasons. Those reasons may be economic, social, psychological, health related, something else, or a combination of a variety of factors. Whatever the reason might be, the Global Pandemic has impacted all of us in one way, shape or form.

The field of personal injury law is no exception.

Lawyer across Ontario have seen different systems come in place which we’ve all needed to adapt to and make work. Courts have released new practice directions; it would seem on a near weekly basis for lawyers and litigants to tell us how the Courts will work in this new world. Some months jury trials are being heard. Other months jury trials are not being heard. The same applies for contested motions or applications.

Below is a list of trends and predictions for the field of personal injury law in Ontario which have been brought on by the Global Pandemic. Now that things appear to be opening up, we all may see more changes yet to come.

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Each year our law firm sees a spike in calls immediately after the Canada Day Long Weekend. We expect this long weekend to be no different. The combination of long summer nights, alcohol, drugs and long weekend excitement can lead to some pretty dangerous situations which we should all hope to avoid.

While we have done iterations of this post in previous years, the safety tips are worth repeating. Some here are some old tips, and some new ones based on recent observations and queries from our intake of calls from across Ontario. Some of these tips may surprise you; while others are common sense. The thing with common sense is that it’s not so common; and sometimes it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to people.

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Car accident law shouldn’t be confusing. But it is!

Workplace injury law shouldn’t be confusing either. But it is!

Part of the reason that both car accident law and workplace injury law are both so confusing is because there are man made laws behind both; which usurp natural law.

For car accident claims we look to the Insurance Act and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. Both pieces of legislation are dense; and require that the injured claimant complete a bunch of confusing standard forms.

For workplace injury claims we look to the Workplace Safety Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act along with the First Aid Requirements Regulation 1101

These pieces of legislation are also dense, and require that the injured worker complete a bunch of confusing standard forms.

You cannot sue your car insurer in regular Court over an accident benefit dispute for a car accident claim. Instead you must start a proceeding before the License Appeals Tribunal or LAT in the Automobile Accident Benefits Service or AABS

You cannot sue your employer in regular Court over a workplace accident. Instead you must start a proceeding before the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board or WSIB.

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One of the most commonly asked questions of me, Brian Goldfinger, is:

Do I have a good case?

It’s generally hard to say whether or not a person has a strong case or not. But there are a few indicators as to the strengths, or weaknesses or one’s case.

This edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog will focus on case strengths, and case weaknesses as they relate to Long Term Disability cases. In some respects, the same reasoning can be applied to car accident cases, slip and fall cases, dog bite cases etc. But there will be some specifics dealing with Long Term Disability cases which are unique to those sort of claims.

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The past 1.5 years has been difficult for everyone. We have lived through tragedies and war before. But tragedies and war may not impact one’s daily life if they are far removed from the tragedy or war.

The thing with a global pandemic is that it touches everyone’s life; whether you live in a high risk community or not. I can boldly state that your life has changed on account of the Pandemic. Whether it’s children not being in school, retail shutdowns, working remotely or simply going into a public space needing to wear a mask; your life is different.

But, there is hope. We have seen numbers decrease thanks to distancing, masking and of course; vaccines. Better understanding COVID-19 and how it spreads has helped significantly.

Ontario is accelerating its re-opening plans; which if they stick and don’t impact a spike to numbers in the ICU is a great sign. With those re-openings we will see more people out and about; enjoying life instead of being in a perpetual state of lock down.

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The Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) provides no fault insurance coverage for injured workers in workplace accidents.

When workers have been injured in the course of their employment; often they look to our law firm to sue their employer.

But here’s the catch. And oh boy; is it ever a big catch.

You see, the thing is, in the vast majority of cases, you cannot sue your employer for your workplace injuries. There are certain exceptions like working for a bank, a law firm, or a funeral home. But in the vast majority of cases, you cannot sue your employer for their negligence giving rise to a workplace injury.

Employers are given one of two classifications. They are either classified as Schedule 1, or Schedule 2 employers. The marjority of employers fall under Schedule 1.

A Schedule 1 cannot sue his or her own Schedule 1 employer. They will be forced to make a WSIB claim. In the event that they find a personal injury lawyer to take on their case and sue their employer for their workplace injuries, the Defendant will bring an Application to the Worplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) to have the lawsuit kicked out of Court and force the injured worker to pursue a WSIB claim.

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You have to believe in your own case. If you don’t believe in it, then who will?

If you don’t care, then who will?

If you don’t try to help yourself, then who will.

While this may sound like self respect or motivational mumbo jumbo; it’s true!

A good personal injury lawyer will believe in you and believe in your case. If they are taking the case on a contingency fee basis; meaning don’t pay anything unless the case settles; then the personal injury lawyer ought not be investing his/her time in the case to begin with.

If the personal injury lawyer doesn’t see the case as a “Winner“, then why are they wasting their time and resources on a case doomed to fail? The personal injury lawyer is quite literally putting their money where their mouth is and taking on your case free of charge without any guarantee of recovery until the end of the case should it settle or should the Plaintiff win at trial. If the case is a loser, the personal injury lawyer losses too. That means that the goals of the personal injury lawyer and the client are aligned. And that’s a good thing. The more money the client receives, the more money the personal injury lawyer can bill in fees.

A wise personal injury lawyer will do his/her best to invest in clients whose cases they believe in. They will invest in clients they deem to have worthwhile causes which will render fruitful outcomes for both client and lawyer alike. Investing in too many cases which are going nowhere is a loss for the client,  and a loss for the personal injury lawyer.

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