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

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Good timing can mean the difference between a winning personal injury case, and a losing personal injury case. In fact; timing can also spell the difference between being involved in a serious accident; and missing a serious accident.

Accident victims aren’t looking to get into accidents in the first place. They are simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But for some serendipitous timing and bad luck, they would not have been involved in an accident in the first place. Hence, they would not need the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. But accidents much like bad luck and bad timing happens. That’s life.

At law, there are limitation periods. This means that an injured accident victim cannot wait forever, or wait too long to retain a personal injury lawyer and start their claim. Waiting too long to get the legal process started has consequences.

Defendants will argue that waiting too long is unfair. Lawyers will call that unfairness prejudice. You will often hear from Defence lawyers that the delay is “prejudicial to their clients” because of reasons A, B and C. Sometimes this is true. Other times, it’s legal mumbo jumbo for they just want to get the case dismissed on account of delay.

Here’s a case where there can be prejudice to a Defendant for delay:

The Plaintiff waits so long to start their case that evidence is destroyed, witnesses can’t be tracked down or if they are, their memories of the events have faded, and investigations by a Defendant cannot be made until it’s fall too late. That’s certainly fair. Continue reading →

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A bad police report and a poor police investigation can be very harmful to an injured Plaintiff in personal injury cases.

In order for a Plaintiff’s personal injury case to succeed, the Plaintiff must establish that the Defendant was negligent (at fault) for the accident in question.

No fault against the other driver? No tort claim.

Regardless of how seriously injured the Plaintiff is; if the Plaintiff cannot establish fault against the other driver, they won’t have a successful tort claim. That’s not to say that they won’t have a successful accident benefit claim. Accident benefit claims are not subject to same the fault rules which we see in tort cases.

All too often, our office has seen police investigations in Ontario which frankly aren’t done properly. That’s not to say that all police investigations into motor vehicle accidents fall short. One bad apple (or a few bad apples) can certainly spoil the bunch.

There is no doubt that police resources are spread thin. Large jurisdictions like Toronto have a lot of ground to cover. Other more rural jurisdictions may not have ample resources. But the consequences of not getting the job done properly, or at all, can be devastating to a personal injury case.

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Each year our law firm sees a spike in calls immediately after the Canada Day Long Weekend. We expect this long weekend to be no different. The combination of long summer nights, alcohol, drugs and long weekend excitement can lead to some pretty dangerous situations which we should all hope to avoid.

While we have done iterations of this post in previous years, the safety tips are worth repeating. Some here are some old tips, and some new ones based on recent observations and queries from our intake of calls from across Ontario. Some of these tips may surprise you; while others are common sense. The thing with common sense is that it’s not so common; and sometimes it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to people.

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If you haven’t heard of what a COVID Long Hauler is, you should look it up. As a personal injury and long term disability lawyer, I don’t profess to be a medical expert. This is where I defer to the doctors have to say about COVID long haulers and the potential long lasting health implications by those who study COVID at the Mayo Clinic , Harvard Medical School and the Cleveland Clinic.

Tens of thousands of people who have contracted COVID, have been left with lingering symptoms and effects including but not limited to fatigue, body aches, joint pain, coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and difficulty sleeping. COVID Long Haulers can’t exert themselves or exercise and simple tasks (like walking to the mailbox or taking out the trash) will often leave them feeling exhausted. Chronic fatigue and chronic pain as being reported with COVID Long Haulers can be incredibly debilitating and frustrating. Many long-haulers also report brain fog, difficultly concentrating or feel like they aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

The reality of COVID is that it’s a new disease which began in an outbreak in around December 2019. Given the newness of the disease, doctors have little data to know the the long term effects or recovery from these long term effects/symptoms. Only time will tell. The vast majority of COVID Long Haulers test negative for COVID after the first few weeks of contracting the disease, despite still having these COVID long haul symptoms.

Long-haulers include two groups of people affected by the COVID:

  • Those who experience some permanent damage to their lungs, heart, kidneys, or brain that may affect their ability to function.
  • Those who continue to experience debilitating symptoms despite no detectable damage to these organs.

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The clashes taking place in Washington DC earlier today got me thinking about assault cases. It’s a mess what’s happening there.

We have seen a spike in calls during the pandemic with regard to physical violence. I can tell you there’s a lot of rage inside and outside homes. People are fed up of being locked down and are either taking matters in to their own hands, or taking out their frustrations on other people (family and strangers a like).

Goldfinger Injury Lawyers certainly doesn’t endorse the use of violence. Victims of violence often call our law firm to get the compensation which the deserve.

The problem however with these types of assault cases is recovering money on behalf of our clients. This is a very common problem in assault cases and I will share with you why in today’s instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

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Long Term Disability claims aren’t simple.

I wish they were, but they just aren’t.

The amount of money you are entitled to is based entirely on your age, income, the set offs you are receiving or have received in the past, and what your long term disability policy says about the duration and quantum of benefits payable.

Are the benefits taxable or not?

Are the benefits eligible for COLA indexing?

Does the definition of disability change at the two year mark from your “own occupation” to “any occupation” or was an “own occupation” rider purchased under the policy?

Is there a means test under the Policy and if so, what is the percentage of income or income allowable?

Each long term disability policy is different.

There is no “master policy” for every employee out there. While some policies may look the same; they carry different nuances which often translate to very large differences.

When a group of employees has access to a variety of collateral benefits; things like private or public pensions (old age or disability); HOOP Benefits; OMERS Benefits; CPP; other disability benefits, vacation pay, sick pay, union benefits etc. things get complicated fast.

The more benefits available, the more complex the case.

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We like keeping our posts in tune with current events here at the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog. We do our best to relate topics in personal injury law to current events as best we can. Sometimes global or local news themes dovetail nicely with personal injury law and how Courts work.

So for this instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, we thought it very interesting to discuss the American Presidential Election, and how it relates to personal injury law.

One of the most common complaints hear about the candidates for President; Donald Trump and Joe Biden; is that they lie, stretch the truth, or take liberties with the truth.

This is done so much that reporters have made careers out of fact checking politicians like Donald Trump. Toronto’s very own Daniel Dale leap frogged from local reporter at the Toronto Star, to Washington correspondent at the Toronto Star; to chief fact checker of Donal Trump at CNN and now has 1.1 million Twitter Followers. 

This is the very same Daniel Dale who received an apology from the late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford over some comments which were later proven to be false.

To go from reporting on the Mayor of the City of Toronto all the way to fact checking the Leader of the Free World in the President of the United States is a huge jump. And Mr. Dale paved his way reporting on the President of the United States by doing one simple thing right; fact checking to report the truth.

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Slip and falls can happen anywhere, at anytime.

Unlike a car accident case, the police don’t come to the scene of a slip and fall to record what happened; or to ticket the at fault party.

That’s very important because in a car accident case, the information regarding liability (the who, where, what, when and why) is recorded by the police. This information is later used by the parties and the Court to place the particulars of the accident in to context. The accident report is relied upon and generally weighed upon by the Court to understand how, where and when the accident happened.

The same cannot be said for a slip and fall case. There is no accident report. There is no recording by independent third party witnesses. There is no accident reconstruction.

Somtimes where a slip and fall happens in a monitored private space (like a supermarket, or a shopping mall) an employee or security guard may record an incident report. Sometimes a video camera may capture the fall itself. But more often than not, this doesn’t happen. And when it does happen, these incident reports are taken by employees, agents, contractors or servants of the defendant property owner. They have an inherent bias towards their employer or contractor to absolve them of liability. Those incident reports won’t favour the accident victim. They will be prepared in such a way as to favour the property owner which isn’t good news for the injured Plaintiff.

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You know what people hate? Jury duty.

Civic duty? Yes.

Sense of national pride and feeling like you’re contributing to society? Sure.

But there are likely 1001 things you’d rather be doing other than sitting on a jury. Particularly for a personal injury case.

As stated previously in the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog; most jurors want to sit on a high profile murder or drug case. Nobody every wants to sit jury duty for a personal injury case hearing all day how a Plaintiff’s neck; back and shoulders hurt them.

Insurance companies know this.

So as a reflex, they file Jury Notices simultaneously with their Statements of Defence knowing that an angry jury; a bored jury; or a day dreaming jury is going to relent the Plaintiff and it will reflect in their decision.

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Many of our Long Term Disability clients want to know how long term disability cases settle. By this question, what they are really asking is how do they as the client, get paid.

Is it a lump sum payment?

Is it a monthly benefit that the client will receive for the rest of their life?

Are there additional damages for pain, suffering, punitive damages, or damages for mental distress?

Does the client have to pay any tax on the settlement amount? If so, then how much?

All of these are valid questions because there are so many ways which a long term disability settlement can be structured outside of Court.

For starters, in order to achieve any sort of award in a long term disability case, the Plaintiff needs to be disabled. This seems so simple, but for so many clients, it’s hard to understand.

Granted; each policy of insurance carries a different definition of disability. But at the end of the day, if the Plaintiff does not meet the definition of disability under the long term policy, there is a very good chance that the insurance company won’t want to pay out any award.

Under most policies, the definition of disability is loosely defined as over the first two years, the Plaintiff is so injured/sick that s/he cannot perform the regular duties of his/her “own occupation“. This first two years is commonly known as the “own occupation” or “own occ” period.

After the first two years, the definition of disability generally changes to the Plaintiff cannot perform the regular duties of “any occupation” commensurate with their education, training and experience. The availability of work is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that there aren’t any jobs out there for you. If you can do any job for which you have the education, training and experience, then you won’t meet the test for disability. This is commonly known as the “any occupation” period.

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