Articles Posted in Car Accident

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Our personal injury lawyers constantly field questions from prospective clients regarding the basic steps of what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario.

We must admit, the laws surrounding car accidents in Ontario are confusing. They certainly aren’t straight forward by any means. It comes as no surprise to our lawyers that people have questions, and LOTS of them!

This is why our law firm has put forward this easy to understand claims guide in order to assist you after you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or have been hit by a car as a pedestrian.

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Our law firm has written many articles on how to complete the OCF-3 Disability Certificate in previous editions of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

Your can read these previous articles here, here, or here.

Don’t get me wrong. Those articles are great and contain valuable information for accident victims, their loved ones, doctors, therapists, even insurance adjusters.

But those articles are dated. Accident benefit and car insurance law is ever changing!!!

The standard OCF claim forms are constantly being updated. We have no reasonable explanation as to why the OCF forms get changed around so often aside from the government is constantly changing car accident law to keep lawyers and insurers on their toes. These changes generally seem to favour large insurers, but that’s another story all together.

The end result is that injured accident victims, doctors, therapists and rehab clinics may be using old forms which won’t be accepted by the insurer when submitted.

In fact, we’ve had experience with more than one adjuster who has submitted the wrong/dated OCF form to our clients by mistake. Our lawyers don’t blame them. The system and the constant tweeks/updates to accident benefit and car insurance law has made an already complex system even more complex and burdensome to accident victims, service providers and insurers alike.

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Not many people know this, but my family used to own a farm in Brockville, ON. Brockville is east of Kingston, near the Ontario/Quebec border. My grandparents owned a large farm with hundreds of cows, some chickens and large vegetable garden. I still have memories of the farm. On occasion, my grandfather would threaten me if I didn’t listen by saying he would take my toys away and give them to the cows. I sure listened after that.

As Goldfinger legend has it, the farm house burned down on account of a spontaneous hey fire. The only things that were saved were the  family photo albums. And if you ask around, there are a few epic shots of yours truly hanging out with the cows we had.

The reason I’m bringing up Brockville is because it reminds me of a special client our law firm worked with. This client was involved in a single car motor vehicle accident just outside of Brockville. Years went by and this person never thought of retaining a lawyer. She was at fault for the single car accident, so there was nobody to sue (you can’t sue yourself for your own negligence). The person was scared to consult with a lawyer for these reasons. S/he didn’t know where to turn, what to do, or how the system worked. She was lost, and just went along with whatever the insurer suggested.

The person sustained multiple orthopaedic injuries and a brain injury in the car accident. This was by no means a minor collision, and the injuries were significant. I’ll talk more about the significance of those injuries later on in this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post.

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Sometimes, our personal injury lawyers think that car accident law has been purposely designed just to trip people up.

How else can you explain:

a) $36,920 deductible for a pain and suffering award in a car accident claim

b) $73,840 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 2 car accidents

c) $110,760 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 3 car accidents!

d) these deductibles increase year after year with inflation

e) serious and permanent threshold for pain and suffering claims which cannot be shared with the jury at trial

f) the deductibles cannot be shared with the jury at trial either

The purpose of car insurance and accident benefits is consumer protection legislation. This seems like a stretch goal (pardon the Kathleen Wynnism) considering the way the law actually works, and how the law has evolved such that the scales of justice are tipped so far in favour of insurers, it makes it almost miraculous if a Plaintiff succeeds at trial.

This theme of insurance law as consumer protection legislation was highlighted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the decision of Smith v. Co-operators General Insurance Co., [2002] 2 SCR 129, 2002 SCC 30 (CanLII) If you haven’t read the case, it’s worth a read. An oldie, but a goody!

Here, the Supreme Court stated:

There is no dispute that one of the main objectives of insurance law is consumer protection, particularly in the field of automobile and home insurance.  The Court of Appeal was unanimous on this point and the respondent does not contest it.  In Insurance Law in Canada(loose-leaf ed.), vol. 1, Professor Craig Brown observed, “In one way or another, much of insurance law has as an objective the protection of customers”….0001r_Goldfinger-200x300

The Supreme Court goes on to add:

In my opinion, the insurer is required under s. 71 to inform the person of the dispute resolution process contained in ss. 279 to 283 of the Insurance Act in straightforward and clear language, directed towards an unsophisticated person.  At a minimum, this should include a description of the most important points of the process, such as the right to seek mediation, the right to arbitrate or litigate if mediation fails, that mediation must be attempted before resorting to arbitration or litigation and the relevant time limits that govern the entire process.  Without this basic information, it cannot be said that a valid refusal has been given. 

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Members of Goldfinger Injury Lawyers 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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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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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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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 Injury Lawyers’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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Who is David Marshall,  and why has he been commissioned by the Province of Ontario to write a report on car insurance and car accident litigation in Ontario?

Good question.

If you haven’t heard of David Marshall, here is an interesting article about him from January 31, 2015 in which is he is described as “the Man Ontario Workers love to hate“. He was the president and CEO of the Workers Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB).

The WSIB is the subject of a multi million dollar class action law suit alleging that workers compensation and benefits were unfairly slashed.

The WSIB has been criticized by treating doctors of injured workers for ignoring their medical opinions.

Under Marshall’s watch, the unfunded liability pool of the WSIB has been shrunk from a high of $14.2 billion to just over $9 billion in five years, the number of workers not back to work after a year has dropped by more than half and lost time claims have dropped by 17 per cent — from 50,667 in 2009 to 41,987 in 2013. All the while employers are paying the highest premiums in Canada.

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan calls Marshall “the equivalent of the modern day bounty hunter.”

His job is to disqualify injured workers from receiving their rightful benefits . . . The $400,000 is his bounty for his work over the last year,” Ryan said.

Catherine Fenech, of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups, said since Marshall arrived, “we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of claims being accepted . . . and an increase in workers being told the board thinks they can go back to work no matter how badly injured they are.” Continue reading →

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