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Articles Posted in Personal Injury Lawyer

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As a personal injury lawyer, I would love to snap my “Goldfinger” and make all of my client’s dreams come true!

I would snap my “Goldfinger” and my client’s cases would settle for billions and trillions and gazillions of dollars!

I would snap my “Goldfinger” and my client’s cases would settle on demand; with no hassle or stress for my clients.

I would snap my “Goldfinger” and the Defendant insurer would pay for a ticker tape parade down Yonge Street in honour of the Plaintiff and the at fault driver would have to serve as the Plaintiff’s butler for a lifetime.

All of this would be very nice for my clients, but it’s fantasy. The actual practice of law doesn’t work at all this way.

Many clients want to see their cases open, and then close quickly for millions and millions of dollars. That’s the way which personal injury cases appear to work on the television and in movies; so why not in reality as well?

Because reality is completely different than the world we see on TV or on the big screen.

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Earlier this week Chief Justice Morawetz gave his address at the traditional “Opening of the Courts” for Ontario.  Calling it the “Opening of the Courts” is likely very confusing for the general public.

To be clear, the Courts were not “closed” before that time. But every year around this time we have a ceremony to “open” them in pomp and circumstance. If you like legal tradition, then this is the place to be! If you weren’t there live (which you likely were not), you can catch the ceremony here as it was publicly posted on YouTube.

The Opening of the Courts presents an opportunity for the Chief Justice to make a state of the union type of address acknowledging how the Courts and the Administration of Justice is performing from an insider’s perspective. It presents the Chief Justice with an opportunity to announce plans or changes moving forward. When the Chief Justice speak, lawyer across Ontario listen very attentively. Here are a few interesting comments from the Chief Justice himself from the Opening of the Courts which caught my attention:

References to the Queen have now transitioned to the King. Our Registrars now refer to the King when opening and closing court.”

The current situation (in Ontario Civil Courts) cannot continue. If the timeline between the commencement of a civil matter and the trial is 4 to 5 years, the civil justice system is simply not responding to the litigants.

return to in-person hearings, especially for substantive and complex matters, is an integral part of the judicial system and essential to the administration of justice.”

Meaningful access to justice requires in-person hearings for many self-represented litigants. It is also essential to building the core ingredients of a strong and healthy bar — mentorship and collegiality

There is no going back: virtual hearings have become a permanent fixture for court proceedings

civil proceedings are an area that is ripe for major change…..(The Court) runs the risk of becoming irrelevant in civil proceedings if action is not taken.”

The Rules of Civil Procedure were meant to provide us with a roadmap to resolution; but instead, civil proceedings have become bogged down by process. They have become a maze that is difficult for many to navigate. They have become out of step with the purpose they were meant to serve

In commenting on this, the Chief Justice commented that there out to be a new and more simple path forward. There looks to be a complete re-writing of the Rules of Civil Procedure within 3 years.

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The front page story of today’s Globe & Mail (print) newspaper read “Woman at centre of scandal breaks silence“; referring to the complainant who stepped forward in the sexual assault lawsuit against Hockey Canada and some players.

More interesting were the comments from the personal injury lawyer who says “in watching the coverage of his client’s complaint it has been frustrating to see misinformation circulate that she did not cooperate with police.

It’s really hard to read about stories in the print media, when they don’t have access to all of the information and yet they report on it as if they do. It’s not in the best interest of any lawyer to litigate a case through the media. In fact, if sensitive information about a case gets out into the public before the case has resolved, it will likely jeopardize and tarnish the outcome of the case entirely.

Assaults, and sexual assault cases often get reported in the media. We hear it all the time, and tend to cast judgment based on the reporting itself, or based on our own predisposed beliefs.

Unfortunately, the reporters and their news outlets often get things wrong.  Or perhaps its the Twitter Trolls or amateur internet commentators in the comment sections who just don’t get it.

It happened to our office and to one of our client’s. In a highly publicized case out of Peterborough, our client was assaulted at Riley’s Pub downtown. The bouncers were so aggressive that they broke our client’s leg/ankle. Our client sought medical assistance from the police.

Instead, the three officers referred to the man as a “pussy,” a “douche,” a “drunk idiot,” told him to “walk it off” and told him to take a cab to the hospital where he was eventually treated for the serious leg injury, investigators found. An independent police review has found “evidence of misconduct” involving two Peterborough-Lakefield police officers and a department sergeant.

The complaint against the officers eventually settled outside of the formal Tribunal.

When this story first broke, members of the community thought it to be a sham, or a charade to catch attention. It couldn’t possibly be true. But it was.

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A few weeks ago I was in conversation with a person who asked what I did for a living. I told him that I was a lawyer. He thought that was really cool. When he asked what kind of law I practiced; I told him I was a personal injury lawyer and he looked at me with distain. I wasn’t quite sure why.

Practicing personal injury law is the very essence of civil litigation. At the route of it; personal injury lawyers get innocent accident victims fair compensation for their injuries. We Get People Paid. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. I cannot think of a more noble and pure pursuit when it comes to civil litigation.

Every time I hand someone over their settlement cheque, I am helping to stimulate the economy at a grass route level.

Don’t believe me?

A personal injury lawyer is quite literally re-distributing wealth from large, multi-billion dollar insurance companies; trickling down to injured accident victims; many of whom were struggling to make ends meet before the litigation even got started. The money is going from super rich corporations to regular, everyday individuals. Very Robin Hood-esque!

When my law firm hands someone a settlement cheque; they will spend that cheque in so many different ways. You remember when Oprah handed out gifts (like free cars) on her TV show. You Get a Car! And You Get a Car! And You Get a Car! It’s kinda the same thing!

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The title of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post, “Brian Goldfinger and the Case of the Bad Delivery” sounds like it could be a young adult mystery novel. I mean; who wouldn’t want to read a book about middle age personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger cracking the case on a delivery gone bad? Sound exciting enough; right?!?!?

Let me share a story with you. During the early stage of the Pandemic, my law firm, Goldfinger Injury Lawyers moved from a large office building at 45 Sheppard Ave East in Toronto; to a self contained unit at 167 Sheppard Avenue West, also in Toronto. The move was under a kilometer in distance, but it was still a hard move.

The rationale for the move was quite simple. At the large office building all of our staff and visiting clients had to pay for parking; and parking was quite limited. More importantly, we weren’t too keen during the pandemic to sharing space with strangers. We had to share the elevators, share the bathrooms, share the boardrooms, hallways, reception area, lobby and hallways with the other tenants on our floor. It wasn’t ideal during a global pandemic. Mind you this was pre-vaccines and also when we believed that COVID was not only airborne, but could also be spread on surfaces.

Needless to say, my staff nor my clients were thrilled by the idea of sharing space or common areas with others. The fewer exposures, the better.

So we decided to move down the street.

The new office gave our clients and staff free parking. We no longer had to share any common areas such as washrooms, boardrooms, elevators, hallways, reception area etc. We had to space all to ourselves. It was much more comfortable, and safe from a COVID perspective (keep in mind this is early on in the Pandemic before vaccines were readily available).

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I was recently at a kid’s birthday party. It was my son’s first “real” birthday party. He hadn’t been to a “real” birthday party in around 2 years or so due to the COVID Pandemic.

It was great socializing with adults from his class. It was great seeing my child interact with his classmates at a birthday party. It was great to be out and about after such a long period of on and off again lockdowns, fear and uncertainty.

One of the adults at the party told me that he kept up with the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. He wanted to know how we came up with so many topics to discuss; week after week.

Here are some secrets from behind the curtain about how we come up with topics.

Many would think that personal injury law is a limited topic. But it’s not. Personal Injury Law encompasses so much which people can relate to.

People drive cars, ride transit, walk or ride bikes to get around. Once you participate in any or all of these activities, you open yourself up to a potential claim. Who amongst us hasn’t seen a car accident; or the aftermath of a car accident? How many times have you drove on the highway or passed an accident scene with flashing police lights, firemen and paramedics.

We all know or have heard of someone who has been involved in an accident; whether it’s serious or not. We all likely have someone in our lives who is sick, ill, or disabled from working. They likely require, receive or have applied for either government assistance, or insurance benefits from a private insurer.

In order to drive a motor vehicle you require car insurance. It’s the law.

Who hasn’t done something “risky” like bungee jumping, sky diving, skiing, put their kids in a bouncy castle; or some other action sport which requires the participant to sign a waiver?

Who hasn’t seen a vicious dog or been afraid of a vicious neighbourhood dog? Perhaps that dog got off leash and bit someone?

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The majority of my clients are first time litigants:

  1. It’s their first time retaining a personal injury lawyer; or retaining a lawyer at all
  2. It’s their first time suing
  3. It’s their first experience with the legal system
  4. It’s their first time getting really hurt and needing to do something about it from a legal perspective
  5. It’s their first time getting denied by an insurance company
  6. It’s their first time feeling gaslit by an insurance company
  7. It’s their first time participating in sworn statements, an examination for discovery, medico-legal assessments, mediation, having surveillance conducted on them, Pre-Trial, Trial and all of the other things which go hand in hand with personal injury cases

The parties which my clients sue or seek benefits from are large and sophisticated insurance companies. This is not their first rodeo. They are well versed in the dark arts of litigation. Strategically defending lawsuits is what they do well.

Insurance companies know what they are up against. They are facing off against for the most part, unsophisticated accident victims who are hurt or injured. The Plaintiffs are new to litigation and all of the ups and downs which it presents. Insurance companies know how to say the right things because they have experience. Having their lawyers say “healing words” to appease a Plaintiff; or say all the right things to gloss over a terrible sequence of events is less expensive than paying out an award for damages.

An apology costs n0thing. Stating condolences for the loss of a loved one costs nothing as well.

But paying out of a claim costs the price of said claim.

There is a quantifiable economic difference between the two which insurance companies and their lawyers know all too well. Why pay out on a claim when you don’t have to? Why pay more on a case when you don’t have to? It makes financial sense. If an insurance company either liked your claim, or wanted to get you the compensation you deserve; you would have received that compensation by now.

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Do I have a personal injury case? You be the Judge.

Once upon a time there was woman who was walking in a public park.  It was winter and cold and icy. In the middle of the park stood a large snow covered hill. There was no visible path up the hill because it was covered in snow and ice. The hill had been used by children for tobogganing, but there was nobody tobogganing on that particular day.

There were signs along the hill from the City/Municipality stating “Hill and Paths not maintained in the Winter. Use at your own risk“.

The hill was both high, steep, snow covered and slippery. But it was also very tempting and mysterious for the woman in the park who was standing at the foot of the giant hill. What could be on top of the hill? What could be on the other side of the hill? Am I strong enough to climb the hill and make it all the way to the top? Do you think that I would set a record for being the first person to climb the hill in the winter? If I climbed the hill on my own, would I win a prize? Perhaps I would be on the news for climbing this glorious hill….

So many questions, so little time; and such a tempting hill.

The woman could not resist. Her curiosity got he best of her and she proceeded to climb the hill. Slowly but surely, she summited to the top of the hill. But when near the top of the hill she lost her footing and twisted her ankle. She was not able to walk properly for days and needed some physiotherapy.

Now the woman calls a personal injury lawyer and shared her story of the giant hill in the public park. She wanted to sue the hill and sue the City/Municipality for not making the hill safe for people to climb in the winter. She wants to sue the manufacturer of her boots for not making the sturdy enough for the climb atop the hill.

It begs the question: Do I have a personal injury case?

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A well respected personal injury mediator recently compared a successful mediation to baking. It takes great ingredients to bake a great cake. The same as it takes a lot of different pieces of evidence and factors to make for a successful case or mediation. Just as one ingredient cannot make a cake. One piece of evidence or factor cannot make for a great case or mediation.

I love that analogy on so many levels.

Firstly, I like great cake. Who doesn’t? Yum!

Second: he is absolutely right. It takes great a lot of evidence to make for a great case. As it takes the parties working in harmony to get to “Yes” during the mediation process. Getting the ingredients right is required to get the deal done.

Finally and most importantly; the analogy which the mediator used (comparing needing great ingredients to bake a great cake to a successful case or mediation) is simple and easy for anyone to understand. I’ve found that easy to understand and easy to relate to analogies work best with accident victims. All too frequently lawyers and other actors in the personal injury litigation system forget that Plaintiffs haven’t done this sort of thing before.

In all likelihood it’s their first time hiring a litigation lawyer; it’s their first time suing; it’s their first time being exposed to the underbelly of personal injury litigation in Ontario; it’s their first time hearing legal terms that lawyers throw around.

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When most people think about lawyers, they think about fancy offices, fancy suits, and very expensive hourly rates. It can all be very intimidating.

When I first started practicing law, I worked in the downtown Toronto core on Bay Street. Bay Street is synonymous with big banks, big finance and the big law firms which represent those large institutions.

What was really odd was that the law firm I used to practice act acted for neither the large banks, or large commercial entities. We acted for seriously injured and disabled people; many of whom did not live in the City of Toronto and if they did rarely ventured into the downtown core. Having our clients come into the office was a chore. They were scared of venturing to downtown Toronto; even if it was to meet with their own personal injury lawyer.

The law firm was accessible on the subway or streetcar, but there was no easily accessible parking which didn’t require a 5+ minute walk through an underground maze (The Path System). And once you got off the TTC, people often got lost. Navagating the elevator bank was also an experience in and of itself. Odd floors servicing certain levels on one side; even floors servicing other levels on another side. If you weren’t there everyday, or weren’t familiar with all of the commotion; it was an intimidating and scary sight.

Keep in mind that the bulk of our law firm’s work at that time was devoted to Plaintiff side personal injury law. Our clients had very real and very visible disabilities (wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, casts) or invisible disabilities (anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, chronic pain). Things weren’t easy for our clients simply getting to our law firm and that didn’t sit right with me. Seeing your own personal injury lawyer shouldn’t be a chore or an anxiety inducing event.

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