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Articles Posted in Mediation

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Determining how much your case is worth in a Long Term Disability Case can be a bit of a weird science. But, there is a method to what many perceive as madness.

Plaintiff side personal injury lawyers would LOVE for your number to be accepted by the long term disability insurer.

Wouldn’t it be great if coming up to a number in a long term disability case was as easy as imagining the highest number in your head, spitting it out, and then the case is settled.

This would be your personal injury lawyer’s dream. The client gets what s/he wants. That number is very high. The lawyer feels great for having achieved such a significant recovery on behalf of his/her client.

Long term disability cases are not cases for pain and suffering. Nobody from the long term disability insurer committed an actionable wrong which led directly to your disability. Meaning, no one from the long term disability insurer ran you over with their car resulting in your disability (unless this actually really happened). For the most part, the disability has little to do with the action(s) of the insurer, and vice versa. While the decision of the insurer to deny, or terminate benefits will likely cause emotional stress and financial duress; it has little to do with the onset of the actual disability giving rise to the claim in the first place.

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Mediation is mandatory in any civil case commenced in Toronto, Ottawa or Windsor. There are mandatory mediation requirements under the Rules of Civil Procedure.

Mediation is also mandatory in car accident cases, but not many save for lawyers and insurance adjusters know that it is.

Buried deep inside the Insurance Act is a provision dealing specifically with mediation for car accident cases:

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Mediation can be a very nerve wracking experience; although it shouldn’t be.

But I get it.

For the majority of Plaintiffs involved in a personal injury case, it’s your first time participating in a mediation. You don’t know how a mediation works, what to do, what to wear, what to expect, or how long the mediation will take place that day.

Your personal injury lawyer should prepare you for these questions and fears, but no amount of preparation will get you ready for the real thing. You have to do it, and go through the highs and the lows to really know it.

It’s important to know at mediation, there is no Judge; no Jury; no recording devices. You cannot “win” or “lose” at mediation. The case will either settle, or it won’t settle. Sometimes, even when the case doesn’t settle, it may resolve shortly thereafter because the parties have sought additional authority, or have had some time to let the position of the other side sink in. Either way, there is no Judgement or Verdict coming out from the mediation process.

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We would like to take the time to thank all of you who rocked the vote in support of Goldfinger Injury Lawyers and Brian Goldfinger’s nomination in Canadian Lawyers’ Magazine for Top Law Firms in Plaintiff Side Personal Injury Law. Your support and well wishes have been overwhelming. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We would like to use this instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog to talk about the concept of mediation in the context of a personal injury case.

Many people have heard of the word mediation, but have never participated in a mediation before. That’s perfectly normal; especially for injured accident victims who are new to civil litigation and to the complicated world of personal injury law.

When boiled down to its core, a mediation is a confidential, without prejudice, settlement meeting. The word without prejudice means that anything that’s said in mediation, along with any offers which are exchanged won’t be held against any of the parties.

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99% of personal injury cases settle without going to trial. Between the time a notice of the claim is given, right up to the commencement of trial, there are many opportunities for your personal injury lawyer, the insurance lawyer, and the insurance adjuster to settle your case.

One of those big opportunities to settle your case is through mediation. Mediation presents a great opportunity to do so because for one entire day, all of the lawyers and adjusters set aside their other files and focus solely on getting your case settled.

Mediation is not a trial. Mediation is not an arbitration. Mediation does not involve a Judge or Jury making rulings on your case. Nobody “wins” at mediation. Mediation involves compromise.

Mediation is a confidential, without prejudice settlement meeting between the parties which is presided over by a neutral third party mediator. The mediator can be a retired judge, a lawyer or a non lawyer who now work as a mediator. Having a mediator with expertise in the area of law being litigated is important. So, if the mediator is a retired family lawyer, but they are mediating a long term disability claim, the mediator may not have the requisite expertise to get the job done.

Plaintiff personal injury lawyers, insurance defence lawyers, and insurance adjusters attend at mediations frequently. Plaintiffs (ie injured accident victims and long term disability claimants) do not.

For most Plaintiffs, they may have heard of the term mediation before, or they may have participated in a mediation in a different sort of case (family, work, union, etc.); but their personal injury mediation is likely the first time they have participated in a personal injury mediation. The process can be intimidating. After all, it’s likely your first time going through this and there is a lot at stake (your case and livelihood).

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Mediation is a popular tool used by lawyers to settle personal injury cases in Ontario. In some jurisdictions (Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa) mediating a personal injury case is mandatory before it can proceed to trial. The Insurance Act also contains provisions requiring mediation for an accident benefit dispute in Ontario. Some Courts have even found that a car insurer’s refusal to participate in a mediation is bad faith claims handling and awarded the Plaintiff damages in this regard.

Whether or not a mediation is mandatory; this does not change what a mediation is, and how mediation works.

If you have never mediated a case before, don’t worry. You’re not alone. 99% of our clients have never participated in a formal, legal, mediation before. BUT, 100% of our clients have participated in some form of informal mediation at one point or another in their lives!! Don’t believe me?

Ever had a dispute with your spouse or family member and you needed to call in a close friend to chat with the parties and help solve the problem? That’s mediation. When your Uncle Larry is talking to your Uncle Ned, did you need to call in Grandma to help cooler heads prevail? That’s mediation too!

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. The nature of the dispute doesn’t matter. If there’s conflict; mediation can help resolve that conflict. Just because the dispute resolution technique isn’t labelled as a mediation, doesn’t mean it’s not.

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The first thing which comes to mind when thinking about compensation for personal injury law cases is that they’re all about pain and suffering, or general damages as they’re known.

People who focus on in this area know that damages for pain and suffering are significant, but they aren’t the be all and end all of compensation for an injury case. There are MANY more headings and heads of damages for an injury case which can be much more lucrative than general damages.

The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post is to examine damages for pain and suffering and how they work.

One of the most commonly asked questions for our lawyers is HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH? MY PAIN AND SUFFERING IS IMMEASURABLE.

As always, these questions are hard to answer in a quick 140 character Tweet. It all depends on the facts of your case, the nature of the injuries sustained, your pre-accident health, pre-accident life style, and how your recover (or don’t). Every case is different, and every award for damages is also different.

A very long time ago, when dirt was young and when there was little to no traffic on the 401 or in the City of Toronto, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on 3 distinct cases that are commonly known as the “trilogy”, In these case, the Supreme Court essentially ruled that damages for pain and suffering (general damages) were capped.

Unlike the United States, where we see massive awards for general damages in the millions and millions of dollars; damages for pain and suffering in Canada will not exceed around $356,000 or so in 2014. Sounds crazy right? Just $356,000 to measure pain and suffering!?!?! I agree. But the Supreme Court did this for good reason.
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If you’ve consulted with a personal injury lawyer, then you’ve likely heard, or found out that 99% of these sort of claims settle BEFORE trial.

One of the tools which lawyers use to foster settlement is called mediation.

Mediation is an important step in any legal case. In fact, mediation is so important, that in Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor, mediation is actually required BEFORE a matter can be set down for trial. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) requires that all accident benefit disputes get mediated BEFORE they can proceed to Arbitration or to litigation. if you fail to mediate, then you can’t proceed.

Many clients want to know what they can expect at mediation. It’s a very good question considering that it’s such an important step in your case, and at the end of the day, the case might get settled if the mediation is successful. Mediation can be particularly nerve wracking for many because accident victims have never been through the process before.

The purpose of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog post is to get you more familiar with the mediation process; what to expect; and how it works.
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