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

Articles Posted in Legal News

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September 30, 2021 marks Canada’s first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. Better late then never?

As a personal injury lawyer, the big theme in the title of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is the word “Truth“.

We are told as children, adults and throughout law school the importance of telling the truth; along with the importance of seeking out the truth.

But the truth can mean different things to different people.

How so?

There are two types of truths.

There are objective truths. These are facts or findings which nobody can deny or contradict.

Mathematics such as arithmetic and trigonometry are objective truths.

The time of day is an objective truth.

The earth being round (though not to Kyrie Irving); the planets orbit the sun, the chemical formula of water being H2O. These scientific truths are objective.

If you seek to discredit these objective truths, you will either be wrong; or appear as delusional. Or perhaps you’re a savant who has stumbled onto a new way of thinking which breaks the barriers or speed, sound and time; in which case we have all got a lot more learning to do 🙂

I trust you understand where I’m going with objective truths.

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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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Congrats to Goldfinger Injury Lawyer’s very own Afsoun Amirsolaimani on winning a contested motion seeking the removal of a lawyer for the Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund for acting in a conflict of interest. The decision is below and has yet to be reported, but we share it with you now. 

CITATION: Riley et al. v. Director of MVAC, et al., 2021 ONSC 2123 

COURT FILE NO.: CV-20-00000101 

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We made it. Post # 500!!!!

It’s one thing to prepare posts of few words. But we’ve been pretty consistent here at the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. Each post has on average 1,000 words.

So 500,000 words later, do we have any greater insight than when we first began? Do we have any new words of wisdom for those trying to prepare a successful legal blog?

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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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12 weeks or so and counting of “lockdown” or “kinda quarantine” depending on who you ask. It’s been difficult for everyone. From doctors, to dentists, to lawyers, to tennis pros, teachers, PSWs, general labourers, hospitality staff; you name it. The only people I know who are succeeding, if you can call it that; are those people in the video conference industry. If you work for a company which runs or services video conferencing platforms, I suppose you are busy. Also busy are likely those people who manufacture and distribute PPE. Regrettably, most of those factories are overseas, but that’s another story all together….

So; what’s it like to be a personal injury lawyer during the days of COVID?

It’s not that things have totally shut down. Things are just moving at a much slower pace in a different fasion that personal injury lawyers, defence lawyers and insurance adjusters are used to.

It’s certainly not easy. It’s particularly not easy if you aren’t tech savvy. In fact, if you are a technophobe (someone who isn’t capable or handy with technology), you likely cannot really practice law or get much done during the age of COVID.

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One of the most depressing things about living through COVID is that we don’t know when it’s going to end (if ever). The number one question which my clients, staff and lawyers want to know is when and how or even will we ever get back to our normal lives?

I can’t answer that question. None of the experts can.

It’s that uncertainty which drives us all mad on the inside, despite putting our best foot forward; along with our best face for the social media hives to which we belong.

I exchange many pleasantries over the phone with fellow lawyers, insurance adjusters, clients and prospective clients. We are accustomed to saying standard, pre-programmed responses during these exchanges part out of common courtesy, part out of custom.

These exchanges go something like this:

Lawyer: Hello. Its (insert name of personal injury lawyer here) calling from (insert name of personal injury law firm here). How are you?

Insurance Adjuster: I’m doing well. How are you?

Lawyer: I’m fine thanks for asking. I’m calling you about the (insert name of personal injury client here) file…..

And thus the conversation flows regarding the specifics of the case.

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As tough as it is for most people to navigate the challenges associated with the current pandemic, it’s even more challenging for those dealing with injuries as the result of an accident, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger.

After someone has been injured, they are often assessed by an occupational therapist to see if any modifications need to be made to their living space to accommodate their new situation, he says. They also might be receiving treatment by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or massage therapist. None of that is happening right now.

“These people are certainly feeling the impact. They’re at home getting no treatment or care, and it’s not helping their physical health or mental wellness. It’s putting them at grave risk to be alone when they need some form of attendant care or supervision,” Goldfinger says.

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Many lawyers boast about being virtual, paper free and 100% remote. This is fantastic and something which we should all strive for given the current climate brought on by the COVID19 global pandemic. If COVID19 has done anything for the legal profession, it’s opened the legal community’s eyes that we as a profession are desperately behind the times when it comes to incorporating technology in to the general practice of law.

I place the majority of the blame on our inept Court system along with our archaic filing practices. Lawyers CANNOT file a majority of materials with the Court electronically. Process servers for in person Court filings are required, otherwise you will face the wrath of rejected materials. Courts have never wanted to hold teleconferences for mundane consent or unopposed matters. Courts still require personal attendances at the expense of everyone’s time, money and resources. I hope that all of this will change when we reach the light at the end of the COVID19 tunnel.

I can go on and on about inefficiencies of our Courts and legal practices along with how we can all improve with technology; but this is a topic for another day.

The purpose of this week’s instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is to focus on the daily activities of a personal injury law practice which have been impacted by COVID19. For today we will let you in behind the curtain of Goldfinger Injury Lawyers to understand what goes on behind the scenes to keep our law firm running in a time of crisis.

The lawyers who I recognize boasting online that their practices are 100% remote are mostly those lawyers who earn a salaried wage. They are not business owners. They are in large part removed from the day to day, nitty gritty which go hand in hand with operating, managing and running a law firm. Such lawyers are employees or contractors of a legal operation of some sort. Think of in house lawyers, associates or even partners of a larger law firm.

Some may be “partners“. But the term “partner” can often be misleading. There are equity partners vs. non equity partners. Equity partners have skin in the game. Non equity partners can exist for name recognition only, and don’t have any skin in the game compared to their equity partner counterparts. A non equity partner can walk away from a sinking ship without any real consequence. At the same time, even equity partners can find a way to buy out, walk away or totally collapse the firm if things aren’t going well without significant personal loss. See Goodman & Carr or Heenan Blaikie

An owner of a law firm is responsible for paying rent, office supplies, making payroll, paying for professional membership dues, operational overhead, marketing overhead etc. These are great responsibilities which feed family and fuel many different industries (legal, office supply, marketing, telecom, tech, furniture, security, cleaning and the list goes on).

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the way lawyers serve their clients, with many opting for remote meetings through phone calls and videoconferencing rather than in-person, says Toronto personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger.

In Ontario, across the country and around the world, governments have declared states of emergency, advocating that people work from home where possible and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We’re not conducting any in-person meetings,” Goldfinger says. “We’re doing as much as we can over the phone and on email. We have cancelled all meetings that required an appearance, including examinations for discovery and mediations, if we can’t do them over the phone or using videoconferencing. We don’t want to put anyone at risk.”

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