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

Articles Posted in COVID-19

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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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2020 has been a really difficult year for so many people across all walks of life; for so many different reasons.

Where does the hell storm of 2020 start for you? Here are a few line items in no particular order just to put 2020 in perspective:

  • Wildfires blaze out of control and destroy millions of acres of forests in Australia and California. Those California wild fires still blaze. Politicians battle each other whether or not climate change is real
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announce they are “stepping away” from their Royal Duties
  • Iran launches ballistic missiles at two American military bases in Iraq
  • Ukranian flight crashes over Tehran, Iran, killing 176 passengers
  • An impeachment trial for US President Donald Trump. Trump is acquitted. Depending what side of the isle you’re on, this is either fantastic or a disaster. Regardless of your political stripe, it’s a black eye on American politics showing a nation divided
  • Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crashes killing Kobe, his daughter Gigi along with 7 others
  • The UK formally draws out of the European Union. Depending on which side of the political spectrum you’re on, this is either great news, or a catastrophe. Nonetheless, it shows a continent divided.
  • Stock markets crash globally, recording their largest losses on record
  • 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed.
  • Death of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter protests across America show a country divided
  • Death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  • Death of Eddie Van Halen
  • Disneyland closes its doors. First time that’s happened since JFK was assassinated.
  • COVID brings the world to a standstill with over 1,000,000 deaths and global lockdowns.

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Hey Ontario Government. Want to open up again for business? Want to be a Government that’s “For the People“?

Heed these words of first hand experience from one of your COVID-19 Testing Centres and learn.

For starters: I’m a personal injury lawyer. I’m lucky to have my own practice; call my own shots and set my own schedule. My “boss” are my clients. I don’t have to punch a clock or report to a manager if I have to take time off work. I have a team of lawyers and clerks to help serve our clients. That makes me very lucky. I appreciate that most people don’t have the same luxury or flexibility in setting their own schedules or getting help.

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In my view, the simplest answer to this issue is, “It’s 2020”. We no longer record evidence using quill and ink. In fact, we apparently do not even teach children to use cursive writing in all schools anymore. We now have the technological ability to communicate remotely effectively. Using it is more efficient and far less costly than personal attendance. We should not be going back.

-The Honourable Justice F.L. Meyers

Arconti v. Smith, 2020 ONSC 2782

During the COVID pandemic, personal injury lawyers, insurance adjusters and defence lawyers have claimed to have adapted.

We claim to have embraced e-discoveries, video conferencing, virtual mediations and settlement conferences because we have to. If we don’t embrace the technology, then business doesn’t get done.

It means a Plaintiff’s case can’t be pushed forward.

It means that an insurance defence lawyer cannot bill.

It means that an insurance company cannot clear another file off their desk to set targets and make quarterly economic reports for their stakeholders.

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As a personal injury lawyer, I don’t profess to be a medical expert. I certainly don’t have all of the answers to your medical questions, tech questions or political questions. As a personal injury lawyer, I like to stay in my lane of personal injury law and insurance related questions. When people have a problem in these spheres, they tend to reach out to me and my law firm Goldfinger Injury Lawyers.

Once upon a time; in order to get your opinion out in to the world, it needed to be broadcast in the traditional news media, or to your friends verbally.

Social media has given us all platforms to speak our own versions of the truth and spread our own beliefs to thousands in one simple click. Those beliefs may be fact, or fiction. But they are your truths (or mistruths) nonetheless. There is no fact checking or editor to vet your comments before they are broadcast in to the world. All you have to do is simply click a button and your opinions are broadcast to the world.

The global pandemic we are all dealing with in our own ways has reinforced the fact that we are all in this together. And being “together” means that we all, or the majority has to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

What has been highlighted by COVID is that so few of us are on the same page. The amount of information, misinformation and outright lies circulating on the internet is rather upsetting.

But it’s not just the internet where we see this departure of shared values and beliefs. We see it everyday.

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