Articles Posted in Examination for Discovery

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One of my young personal injury lawyers and I had a chat following an Examination for Discovery. He was quite surprised by the tone which the lawyers for the insurance company took with our client. The lawyers were mean, nasty, rude, snarky and did not give our client the benefit of the doubt.

Would that lawyer speak in that rude of a tone to a stranger? Nope.

Would that lawyer speak that way in a regular world setting outside of the law? Nope.

If that lawyer spoke that way in his/her everyday life, would they have any friends? Nope.

So it begs the question: why are lawyers so stern and mean, particularly during the discovery process?

There are many answers to this question.

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During the Pandemic many lawyers and insurers have been very helpful, kind and considerate given the global health crisis we are all dealing with.

At the same time, some lawyers and insurers have been the exact opposite.

As lawyers we have an obligation (or a duty) to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

This means pivoting and adapting to make things work.

Filing documents with the Court electronically? We’ve made that change.

Conducting examinations for discovery, mediations, pre-trials, case conferences and trials electronically? Evolved to do this as well.

Serving documents on other parties electronically? Check!

E-transferring settlement funds? Yup!

Commissioning Affidavits virtually? Yes!

All of these changes have taken place over the Pandemic to make the practice of law safer for lawyers, litigants, judges, clerks, witnesses and everyone in between so that the legal system can move forward even in the face of a global Pandemic which has cost so many lives.

Participating in the legal process should not be dangerous. You should not have to put your health at risk participating in a case. This is exactly why these changes have been brought about.

Yet some lawyers, and some insurers continue to resist these changes.

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My 3 year old son has a song he sings in nursery which hits home for practicing personal injury law in the age of COVID. It goes a little something like this:


We’re going to the moon


We’re going to the moon

If you wanna take a trip; climb aboard my rocket ship


We’re going to the moon

Here’s the harsh reality of practicing personal injury law in Ontario in the age of COVID. Plaintiff lawyers are trying to make things happen and push cases along. Some defence counsel are as well, while others are not. Why would defence lawyers push to have a case move forward? Justice delayed is justice denied. It might be in their best interest to enjoy this slow down given that there aren’t stiff penalties or functional courts to adjudicate disputes. Courts and tribunals are closed save for “urgent” matters along with some non-urgent over the counter matters. Non-Jury Trials, Jury Trials, contested motions/applications, unopposed motions/applications without the consent of the respondents are simply not being heard.

It takes two to tango. If your dance partner isn’t stepping out on to the dance floor, there isn’t much you can do; particularly when the Courts are closed down.

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Your personal injury lawyer may have shared the term “Examination for Discovery” with you when describing the next step in your case.

This may be the first time you’ve heard this legal term.

Understanding what it means to participate in an Examination for Discovery, and why a discovery is important for your personal injury case, will help you better understand and make you feel more comfortable with your case. An understanding and more comfortable client will perform better when it matters most.

After reading this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post you may likely still be nervous for an upcoming Examination for Discovery.

Rest assured; these feelings are NORMAL! It’s perfectly normal to get nervous or anxious to participate in a discovery if you’ve never done one before. Even if you have participated in one, you never know what to expect.

Unless you’re a lawyer who has done hundreds or thousands of Examinations for Discovery, you will likely have a hard time sleeping the eve of discovery on account of nerves. Use those nerves to your advantage to keep you sharp and alert throughout the discovery process instead of having those nerves work against you.

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What is an Examination for Discovery?

Examinations for Discovery are normal. They occur in nearly every civil action (personal injury, or not), in Ontario.

This is an opportunity for your personal injury lawyer to ask the Defendant at fault driver, or insurance adjuster a series of questions which are answered under oath. Your lawyer will ask the at fault party some very simple questions, along with some more pointed questions in order to get more evidence about the case at hand.

The same way your personal injury lawyer gets to ask the at fault party questions; the lawyer for the insurer gets to ask the Plaintiff accident victim, or Plaintiff disability claimant questions of their own.

The insurance defence lawyer will also ask some very simple questions like:

What’s your name?

Whats’ your current address?

What’s your date of birth?

Are you married?

Do you have any dependents?

What is your highest level of education?

Where were you working before the accident?

The insurance defence lawyer will also have some very pointed, more specific questions for you about your case:

Do you recall telling Dr. Smith that your back hurt on such and such a date?

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank the pain in your back?

Would you describe the pain in your neck as a sharp stinging pain, or a dull ache?

Would you describe the collision as a light, medium or heavy impact?

Do you recall hearing the sound of a honking horn, or tires screeching prior to the collision?

How many car lengths were between your vehicle, and the other vehicle the FIRST time you saw it? What about the SECOND time you saw it?

How much time elapsed between the time you saw the at fault vehicle and impact?

Do you recall what Dr. Smith said to you at your medical appointment on September 10,1982? (of course you don’t, this was all the way back in 1982!!!)

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One of the most important, exhausting and difficult part of any car accident or personal injury case prior to trial is the Examination for Discovery process.

An examination for discovery in Canada, is akin to a deposition in the United States. The reason I make the comparison is because with the popularity of American legal dramas such as Law & Order, Suits and Boston Legal (May you Rest in Peace), more Canadians are familiar with the term “deposition” rather than “discovery“.

Here in Canada, we use the term “discovery” to describe the process whereby one lawyer, asks a party to the legal action questions under oath which are recorded by a Court reporter.

Examinations for Discovery can take place at a variety of locations. There are professional reporting offices across Ontario. They can take place in hotel conference rooms, board rooms, even in a quiet large restaurant; provided that the parties agree to the location and there is a reporter on site to get down every word that’s said during the discovery process.

During the examination for discovery, the opposing lawyer may ask questions which you may not have the answer to immediately, but it might be at home in your records, or the information may likely become available if requested at a later date.

The lawyer representing the client being examined, can then “undertake” to provide an answer to that question at a later date (within 60 days), or undertake to request and or produce the information requested. This is called an “undertaking“. These undertakings are very important to the legal process.
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One of the greatest weapons which an insurer has in their arsenal of defence strategies is surveillance.

For those of you who don’t know, surveillance is when an investigator follows an accident victim and films, records them, or takes photos of them when they’re out and about in public. For this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post we will NOT be examining the growing field of cyber/on line surveillance. Rather, we will dig deep in to the field of “old school” sleuthing surveillance where the Plaintiff gets followed or tracked by an investigator or team of investigators.

For most accident victims and disability claimants, they don’t know they’re being followed until it’s too late. Others recognize they’re being followed immediately, but still go on with their normal routine.

A picture says a thousand words. Pictures and film recordings in the context of a Judge along or Jury Trial in Ontario are very persuasive. Hearing a medical expert drone on and on about pain complaints can get very boring. BUT A MOVIE: now that’s exciting.

Think back to the days when you were in grade school. A teacher would lecture and the students would fall asleep. No matter how engaging the teacher, there were always a few kids in the classroom who never paid attention.

BUT, when the teacher brought in the television to play a movie, or to show some slides, even the kids with the shortest attention spans perked up.

This is exactly what happens in the Courtroom when the lawyer for the insurance company plays their surveillance video. All of the jurors immediately perk up to see what the investigators caught on camera. Those video and still images leave a lasting impression on the jury. It shows the Plaintiff in a light they don’t want to be seen in. It shows the Plaintiff engaging in normal every day life when they think there’s nobody watching. For those reasons, surveillance is a very powerful tool which should not be underestimated.
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