Articles Posted in Assaults

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If you have been injured as the result of a crime in Ontario, you may be entitled to compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB).

What is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board you ask? Good question!

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is a government body which assesses and awards financial compensation to victims of crime in Ontario. This is a nice thing that the Ontario Government has been doing for the public since around 1967 under the Law Enforcement Compensation Act (LECA) came in to force.

The law and compensation structure of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has changed a lot since 1967. But, the premise remains the same. The Ontario Government has set aside a pool of money in order to compensate injured victims of crime, for up to $25,000 per claim. This is a nice public service.

Our lawyers are asked why it’s important for the Ontario Government to do this. The answer is that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board is often the only real method for innocent victims of crime to recover financial compensation for their injuries (not a piece of paper Judgment which is unenforceable).

Earlier this week, the @GoldfingerLaw Twitter Account tweeted out a CBC article regarding Judgment Proof Defendants. The article highlighted a Plaintiff who sued an immigration consultant for having done a poor job. The Plaintiff was successful at trial, and secured a Judgment against the Defendant. But, as it turned out, the Defendant legal consultant was judgment proof.

Being Judgment proof means that the Defendant does not have the money, assets or resources to pay for the Judgment. That’s not fair. I agree. The saying “You can’t get blood from a stone” applies here.

People often wrongly think that an inability to pay a Judgment will result in automatic jail time, or even worse.

That’s simply not true. If you can’t pay a Judgment because you don’t have the money, assets, or resources to do so, you don’t go to jail. You simply have a Judgment clouding your conscious and credit rating until it has been extinguished.

A judgment against a Defendant without money, resources, or any tangible assets is only just a piece of paper, as documented in the CBC article from earlier this week. But Plaintiff lawyers across Canada are taught this early in their law school careers. This is also a handy piece of business advice as well.

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The front page of today’s Toronto Star is a feature article and photo of Mandi Gray. The headline reads “Putting A Price on Rape..Mandi Gray could have shared her trauma with the court. She opted to share her bills instead“.

Kudos to Mandi Gray for eliminating the publication ban and coming out so courageously. This is a huge step forward in rape and sexual assault cases. Fantastic display of strength which we certainly admire.

In case you don’t know much about this case, Mandi Gray is a PhD student at York University. The accused, Mustafa Uruyar was in her program as well. At a party/get together at a bar on Bloor St. in Toronto, both Gray and Uruyar left the bar and headed back to Uruyar’s place.

The Court found that Mandi Gray was raped by Mustafa Ururyar. Mr. Ururyar was convicted and sentenced to the maximum for a summary crime of 18 months in prison, plus up to three years parole. It’s customary in these types for the victim to prepare a Victim Impact Statement to be read aloud in the Courtroom, just before sentencing.

We see these Victim Impact Statements whenever there is a victim of a crime who we can identify and who agrees to share their/thoughts/feelings with the Court. Not all victims have the courage to share Victim Impact Statements. Personal Injury Lawyers see these Victim Impact Statements frequently in drunk driving, violent assault and sexual assault cases. These statements can be relied upon later in the course of the civil proceeding/personal injury case.

Victim Impact Statements can be very emotional. For some, it’s a chance to have their voice heard, unfettered by the Court and cross examination from another lawyer. You can say what you want. But for others, it’s a wasted exercise. The damage is already done. There is no use in speaking or providing a statement. It will only re-hash bad memories. What good will come of it.

Mandi Gray’s Victim Impact Statement was short and to the point. It contained three bills. The first was for 36 psychotherapy sessions totalling $3,770. The second was a bill for $3,453 for legal work paid by Legal Aid to defend her in a Pre-Trial Application. The third was for $10,735 for legal fees which Ms. Gray paid out of her own pocket.

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When I was a young personal injury lawyer, a very senior partner at the law firm I worked at had a great figurine on his desk of an old British looking lawyer wearing a wig with a dignified look on his face. Embossed to the bottom of the figurine was the Statement “Sue the Bastards“.  This figurine always brought a smile to my face.

People ask me all the time why I like being a personal injury lawyer. Aside from the common answers of genuinely liking helping real people (not large multi national corporations); working every day with injured accident victims who need the help the most; and making a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients; the reality is that I also love suing! As a matter of fact, all of the lawyers at my law firm get excited when we are about to issue a Statement of Claim. Perhaps it’s because the Statement of Claim is the first shot fired by David vs. the large Goliath on the receiving end of the claim. That Goliath is the large multi national insurance company with seemingly unlimited resources. The battle seems unfair from the get go if you take in to consideration the size of each parties’ war chest. But our lawyers have the skill and experience to make things work.

An article recently caught my eye. There was a tragic shooting which took place at a Cinema in Colorado around 4 years ago. Many people died in this senseless killing. Many were injured. There are no words to describe this horrific massacre.

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The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB) is a government body which awards compensation to victims of crime and their families following a criminal act.

It’s an important tribunal because for many victims of crime, it’s the only way they can recover compensation for their injuries.

The first rule of personal injury law (or litigation for that matter) is to sue a party with deep pockets. You can’t get blood from a stone in the Courtroom. So, if you sue, and get a Judgment against a party who can never pay the value of the Judgment; then the Judgment itself is without any value. The only value that the Judgment has is knowing that you won in Court. But winning in Court where the only award is damages is a hollow award.Imagine paying a lawyer $20,000 in legal fees, and the lawyer wins a Judgment for you at trial. But after trial, when the lawyer seeks to recover payment on that $20,000 and cannot deliver because the Defendant is broke without assets, then what value is that $20,000 Judgment to you? It’s essentially worthless.

In a car accident or slip and fall case, there is generally some form of insurance behind the at fault party. In Ontario, driving with insurance is mandatory.

But there is no every day insurance to protect you from an act of criminal violence. The same way that an insurer will not insure people for committing criminal acts.

Unless the at fault criminal is a multi millionaire with debt free real estate holdings, your chances of recover against the at fault party in Court are slim. Keep in mind that the wealthiest of people are normally very good at hiding their assets to make sure that they’re judgment proof.

This is where the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board comes in to play. The Ontario Government has set aside a pool of money to compensate victims of crime and their loved ones following a criminal act. This ensure that innocent victims of crime are properly compensated.

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99% of personal injury cases in Ontario settle without ever going to trial; or without ever seeing the inside of a Courtroom for that matter.

The same cannot be said for criminal cases in Ontario. The government keeps stats on the percentage of criminal cases which go to trial. These stats are displayed on the Ontario Court of Justice website, and vary from month to month, depending on the offense.

There are a lot of lessons which can be learned when a high profile case such as the Ghomeshi case goes to trial. What happened in that downtown Toronto courtroom, isn’t dis-similar to what happens in other courtrooms across the Ontario. The primary difference is the amount of media attention which the Ghomeshi case garnered, and continues to attract.

What the personal injury lawyers at our office found so amazing, was the analysis and evidentiary principals applied in the highest profile sexual assault case we can think of; are VERY similar to the analysis and evidentiary principals which are applied in your run of the mill car accident, slip and fall, or long term disability case.

Our lawyers were also amazed at how many people chimed in on the findings of the decision of the Honourable Justice Horkins, without actually having read the transcripts from trial, read the Judge’s decision, or without having attended at Court in person to listen to the evidence presented.

Very quickly, if you haven’t read the decision from the Ghomeshi case, we urge you to do so. It will be a primer to how our legal system works and how our legal system weighs evidence. A link to the Ghomeshi decision can be found here.  Evidence is the building block to any case. Without evidence, our legal system doesn’t work.

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This morning, I saw some of the most gruesome video tape of an assault I have ever seen in my years as a personal injury lawyer. The video depicted a horrific assault of one man, pummelling a defenceless man who had been knocked unconscious from a series of punches to the head.  Even though the man being beaten lay motionless on the ground, he was still being punched repeatedly in the face. Unlike a Mixed Martial Arts fight, there was no referee to stop to beating. It continued for what seemed to be an eternity. This was rated “R” footage that would have made anyone cringe. Even a personal injury lawyer such as myself who has seen some pretty nasty images over the years.

As a result of the serious beating, the injured party sustained a fractured orbital bone, along with brain damage. This does not take in to consideration the bruising cuts to the victims face. He had to be rushed to hospital in Toronto following the attack, where he remained for 3 days following his discharge home.

In years past, this assault would have been described by the victim or any witnesses in words; based on foggy memory. Those memories get even foggier as time passes. If the victim or the witnesses had consumed alcohol or drugs at the time of the attack, then chances are those memories are even foggier.

Around 10 years ago, when injured parties and witnesses were asked to provide their best recollection of the events giving rise to the claim, all they had to go was based on these foggy memories, notes, or perhaps photos taken at the scene.

But all of that has changed over the past decade. Cameras have gotten smaller and smaller; and those cameras now have video capabilities. Every cell phone on the market today, with a few exceptions, have both photo capability and video capability. And there are now more cell phones on the planet than people. Cameras are so small today, and can be connected to almost any computer device, they can fit on any surface; from a dashboard cam on a car; to the back of a pen/pencil.

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One of the most interesting cases our law firm has ever handled, was a jail house assault matter in Sarnia Ontario.

The Sarnia Jail has been know for its overcrowding issues and violence. When you have too many people under one roof, things are going to get rowdy. When you have too many people under the same roof with poor supervision and deteriorating conditions, things are going to get bad QUICKLY. Nevermind the fact that none of those people in the jail want to be there in the first place.

And things sure did get bad for a client of ours. He was beaten repeatedly with a hunk of cement from a deteriorating jail house wall which was stuffed in to a pillow case to create a sling like weapon. The result was a traumatic brain injury, multiple orthopaedic injuries, along with permanent disfigurement to his fingers and ears. It wasn’t a pretty site.

Where were the guards in all of the commotion? How diid the guards not stop the beating, or prevent it from happening in the first place? Why didn’t the guards see an inmate with a hunk of cement wrapped in to a pillow case to begin with? How on earth does such a violent assaut take place on government premises?

All of these questions and more were asked by the lawyers trying this case.
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