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Articles Posted in Psychological Injury

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Twitter has it that close to 4,000+/- Ontario lawyers tuned in to an on line professional development program called the Mental Health for Legal Professionals Summit 

That’s a lot of lawyers for one on-line conference; and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact, there are a lot of positives to so many attending. It helps shine a light on mental health; it shows that lawyers aren’t invincible and will give those participating some coping strategies. It’s encouraging that during these difficult Pandemic and Lock Down days which have grinded on all of us, that lawyers are open to and receiving help. This is very reassuring and comforting. We all need support systems around us; particularly when isolated away from the workplace; so that we can feel connected and fulfilled.

While we are seeing this with lawyers; we don’t see this in every workplace. This has resulted in what we believe to be a spike in depression and mental health disability related claims.

Unlike a physical injury where an insurer, judge or jury case see the injury; we cannot see mental health injuries.

There are no band-aids, crutches, wheelchairs or canes for depression and anxiety. The co-worker who you see on Zoom may be suffering a lot on the inside; but you can’t tell over your weekly video meeting. They are likely struggling a lot on the inside. Reaching out to them to make sure they’re ok is great; but it doesn’t amount to professional help like counselling, CBT or medication.

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Mental Health is a very serious problem, but it’s not treated with the seriousness which it deserves.

Part of it is because there is a stigma around mental health. You can’t see depression, anxiety or suicidal ideations; therefore they don’t exist.

When someone is physically injured, you can see those injuries in plain sight. Blood, bruises, broken bones, needing a cane, wheelchair or walker etc. Because you can see those injuries that means that they are true.

But mental health is invisible to the naked eye. Even worse, those injuries are subjective unless you have a proper diagnosis from a treating doctor or specialist. But even mental health diagnoses differ from physician to physician. Some doctors are sympathetic towards mental health. Others are not.

Worse still is that hockey and tough winters are ingrained in Canadian culture. When it’s cold outside, you bundle up, suck it up and tough it out. Hockey players are glorified for playing injured, bloodied, battled and bruised. You get knocked down, you’re taught to suck it up and get back on the ice and hit the opponent harder.

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If you have been denied long term disability benefits, you are likely wondering what your next steps are. The purpose of this week’s installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is to give you some tips on what those next steps are towards getting the long term disability benefits which you deserve.

Long Term Disability Benefits are very topical for this week’s blog post given that yesterday was Bell Let’s Talk Day to raise awareness for mental health. The thing about mental health is that it’s invisible. When you break a leg, you’re put in to a cast and the whole world can see that you’re injured and not able to walk properly.

In contrast, mental health is invisible to the naked eye. Everyday people walk around with mental health issues which the outside world isn’t aware of, or doesn’t understand.

This dovetails nicely with long term disability claims not only because mental health can have long term consequences on one’s ability to work; but also because the vast majority of our long term disability clients suffer from mental health issues. It’s because mental health issues are invisible, and can be subjective in nature; which gives long term disability insurers an easy out to write them off as “made up“, “exaggerated“, or which won’t impact your ability to work. Mental health issues won’t show up on an x-ray, CT Scan or MRI. That gives a long term disability insurer a reason to say that the mental health issues which you are struggling with are simply a fabrication of your mind or that mental health isn’t a big deal and that you should be able to work.

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Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day! Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada.

For every text, mobile and long distance call, tweet using #BellLetsTalk, Bell Let’s Talk Day video view on social media, use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, Bell will donate 5¢ to Canadian mental health initiatives.

This is a super fantastic initiative which has helped to raise $86,504,429.05 since September 2010 towards mental health.

But, sometimes it’s not all about the Benjamins. Sometimes, it’s about raising awareness, ending negative stigma, and helping people feel more comfortable in their own skin. Perhaps greater than the money, is the very fact that people are more comfortable joining the conversation and talking about mental illness.

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The stereotypical image of an injured accident victim in a personal injury case involves a person in a wheelchair, wearing a neck collar, with multiple casts on their legs and arms. Their lawyer is pushing the wheelchair from behind, in to a Court room, parading them before a Judge and Jury so that they can get an appreciation of their injuries.

Some paraplegia and quadriplegia accident victims are certainly like this. These case are no joke. But not every case is a involves paraplegia or quadriplegia.

In most cases, broken bones mend such that the injured accident victim is no longer in a cast at the time of their trial, hearing or mediation; which can take up to 5+ years to get to following a serious accident if things get delayed.

Most injuries are invisible to the judge, jury and insurance company. These might be scars under concealed clothing. Or they might be injuries to the brain, mind, psyche, emotions and cognitive abilities of the injured party. These injuries cannot be seen at first blush. But with some probing and some digging in to the medical evidence, they will come out with the assistance of a skilled lawyer by your side.

Following a serious accident, one of the first things which a lay person first notices are the physical injuries like the broken bones. What can get missed are those other invisible injuries I’ve just eluded to. Unlike broken bones, which can get better over time; these invisible psychological and cognitive injuries get worse and become more pronounced as time passes.

These invisible injuries often come on when somebody bumps their head, losses consciousness or sustains a concussion following a traumatic accident. The accident can be severe such that an MRI picks up spotting on the brain. Or it can be light such that the head simply whips back against the head rest causing a bad knock to the head whereby your mood and cognitive symptoms get worse over time. When these sort of injuries occur, lawyers are able to categorize them as brain injuries. All brain injuries are severe; although some are more pronounced than others. There is no magic pill to make a brain injury go away. There is no cast for the brain. No magical cream, balm, application or band aid to make the brain better. It’s a delicate organ in your body that can’t be replaced.

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Litigating Long Term Disability Claims (LTD Claims) can be tricky, especially when the injury is an invisible one; such as chronic pain or a psychological injury.

Firstly, it’s important to note that Long Term Disability Claims aren’t your typical tort or pain and suffering claims. These are special sort of cases.

What this personal injury lawyer means by that; is that the insurance company didn’t intentionally hire a hit man to whack you over the head with a sledge hammer to cause your pain and suffering. While it may feel like the insurer is intentionally causing you harm, the reality is, that in a vast majority of cases; they didn’t do anything intentional to cause your disability. We acknowledge that there are small exceptions where the behaviour of insurers is so outrageous and so disrespectful that it adds to the harm ; or causes harm. BUT, the reality is, that in most cases, while the insurer may have contributed to your harm by their denial of your claim, in the vast majority of cases; they likely didn’t cause you to be disabled in the first instance. The classic example of this was as stated: they didn’t hire somebody to hit you with a baseball bat to cause you to go on disability. Your health can deteriorate over time for a wide variety of reasons. Stress and anxiety from a denied LTD claim? Sure. But there are likely a wide variety of factors which have led to you being disabled from working.

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