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

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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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OCF Claim forms can be a big headache.

Car accidents litigation should be simple to understand.

But in Ontario, it’s far from simple.

The forms are intimidating, long, and hard to understand.

It’s scary; especially after you’ve been left seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Goldfinger Injury Lawyers are there to help you every step of the way.

Let’s get started with a quick primer on what to expect.

First, let’s remove from the equation the damage to your vehicle, the interviews with the police (or lack thereof); along with any interactions with your employer, ODSP, or OW case worker.

Let’s just focus on the car accident and the accompanying injuries.

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Living through COVID sucks.

Living through COVID in pain from a serious car accident sucks even more.

How are you going to see your doctors?

How are you going to get your medication?

How are you going to get to your physiotherapy appointment?

How are you going to communicate with your personal injury lawyer?

When will my case get to trial given that the Courts are closed?

How am I going to participate in a medico-legal assessment during a lock down?

All of these questions are not only valid, but they are also pressing questions which have caused personal injury clients across Ontario grave concern. And those concerns are justified given that we are dealing with unprecedented times.

There are no right answers. The only right answer is to do what’s best for you given your health, surroundings and the financial position which you are in.

Here is an interesting example:

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Life is hard. Don’t kid yourself. Everyone has their own unique set of challenges and obstacles which they have to overcome.

Some are able to cope. Some aren’t. That’s just the way it goes.

In the past decade, there has been a concerted effort on the part of politicians, courts, employers, athletes and social media influences to recognize that mental health is a real issue. It’s not some made up thing in one’s head. It’s very real and can have a devastating impact on a person’s life.

COVID lockdowns have managed to put fuel on that mental health fire. If you were struggling with mental health issues before COVID lockdowns, one can only imagine how much more difficult things are dealing in a world locked down.

No more in person therapy. Now you need to have video counselling which is effective, but not likely as effective as the real thing in person.

The same concept applies to group therapy or group counselling sessions. That nice feeling of relief seeing your group and socializing (which is healthy) simply isn’t the same over ZOOM or over the phone.

Imagine needing to get medication from your pharmacy. Instead of a normal trip, it’s now like an army tactical mission trying to figure out the best time to go when it’s least busy, the route which will expose you to the fewest people, getting all of your gear in order (mask, gloves, face shield).

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