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

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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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Many lawyers are boasting from the peaks of the tallest mountains of their ability to work remotely. It’s almost a way to claim intellectual superiority over their peers.

If you that lawyer does solicitors’s work which doesn’t require any litigation or the co-operation of the Court or an Administrative Tribunal, the transition from normalcy to COVID lockdown may be seamless.

If you are a litigation lawyer where there Courts are necessary to adjudicate a dispute; then it’s a completely different story.

There are many unique difficulties which personal injury lawyers across the board are facing. Let me take you behind the scenes so that you can have a better appreciation of what’s taking place.

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People want to know:

Should I talk with my insurance company about my personal injury or long term disability case“.

The answer to this question may surprise you.

You may hear some personal injury lawyers tell you that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should an injured accident victim or disability claimant ever speak with an insurance adjuster about their case.

There is nothing wrong with this school of thought. What you don’t say, cannot hurt you. What you don’t say also can’t be recorded and used against you down the road to defeat your claim and credibility. Silence is golden.

But what happens in the situation where you can’t lawyer up in a timely manner? What happens if the insurance company calls you and has a few very simple and basic questions to ask of you which you can certainly answer (address, location of accident, date of birth, what hospital you are currently staying at, whether or not you’re employed or retired). Keep it very simple and basic. You should not share any further details with the insurer without a lawyer, as you will read below.

Your claim, personal injury or long term disability has to get opened so that the benefits can begin to flow. The longer you wait, the longer it will take for the insurer to open their file, assign an adjuster, and hopefully pay for the attendant care, med/rehab and income replacement benefits you need. If you wait to retain a lawyer, this may delay you getting the benefits you need. There is nothing wrong with you calling the insurance company to simply open up a claim and get things started. But when doing so, be cautious of the amount of information which you disclose. Keep things simple and short.

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Winter is coming.

The North winds are blowing.

We the North.

Snow. Sleet. Ice and everything in between.

Some smile at the prospect of negative temperatures. They love the winter!

Others cringe. Count me in on team cringe. I would much rather have nice and pleasant warm weather any day over the ice, cold and darkness that winter brings. I think it’s the darkness and cold that gets me down the most.

Some people have a hard time transitioning from warm weather where one can get away wearing flip flops everyday, to cold weather where winter boots and indoor shoes are more appropriate. Flip flops certainly require less effort to take on and off, and you can wear them inside; so I kind of get it. But, when one makes the conscious decision to ignore the elements; one must live with the consequences….

You would have no idea the number of winter slip and fall cases our personal injury lawyers have seen on account of people who wear flip flops, Crocs, or other non winter footwear outside on icy or snowy surfaces. It’s mind blowing!

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The Ontario Government announced (this week or last, it’s not clear because it came out of nowhere) that they are planning to amend the Occupiers Liability Act.

For those of you who don’t know, the Occupiers Liability Act sets out the laws for slip and fall cases on private property.

The Occupiers Liability Act describes who an owner is (“occupier“) what their duties are and so forth. It also sets out what an (“invitee“) is, and sets out their rights as well. An occupier has a positive duty both in statute and in common law to ensure that their premises are safe for invitees to their premises. Failure to uphold that duty will result in liability to the occupier. The result is that an insurer will respond to the claim to cover the occupier and indemnify the invitee. If the occupier did not have insurance on their premises, then they will be responsible to pay for the cost of litigation and pay out on the case out of their own pocket (whether that’s a personal or corporate pocket depends on the ownership structure).

The standard limitation period for slip and fall cases is 2 years from the date of loss. Failure to commence a claim within that period of time, will result in a limitation period lapsing. Limitation periods, unless otherwise specified in another act, are set forth in the Limitations Act, 2002.

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This instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is not your typical personal injury piece. Reason being, this has not been your typical week in the world of the law and politics in Ontario. As detailed below, this has been a historic week.

Earlier today, Doug Ford and his Conservative majority government enacted section 33 of the Charter, commonly referred to as the Notwithstanding Clause in order to uphold The Better Local Government Act.

The Better Local Government Act was passed by Premier Ford’s majority government to reduce the number of seats in the ongoing Toronto Municipal election from 47 seats, down to 25.

The Honourable Justice Belobaba ruled that Premier Ford’s Better Local Government Act was unconstitutional as it violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Premier Ford recalled legislature today and passed a resolution declaring that The Better Local Government Act would apply “notwithstanding” the Charter.

Essentially, Premier Ford used his supreme constitutional power to overrule the decision of a Judge to pass the legislation which the Judge had deemed to be unconstitutional.

Constitutional lawyers across Canada and legal academics rejoice. They haven’t seen so much CORAF action since the 1980’s.

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The wheels of justice turn slowly. Why is that?

Do you have all day to listen to the rantings of a personal injury lawyer?

Likely not.

The reality is that some of the delay can be blamed on the inherent nature of modern day personal injury litigation. It’s complex. It’s combative. It’s document heavy; and getting documents produced from the police, hospitals, treatment facilities or a doctor is not the most expeditious process. There are also significant privacy concerns as well which take time to deal with.

Other times you can blame the Courts. Most urban ones are slow without adequate resources to meet demand. Don’t believe Brian Goldfinger? Have you visited your local Courthouse lately?

Some times there simply aren’t enough Judges to hear cases. It’s true and it happens more that you would expect.

The focus of this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post will be tactical delays by insurance lawyers to slow down the progression of a car accident case in Ontario.

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Long Term Disability cases are complicated. Most people don’t even know what a Long Term Disability Claim even is. To take it one step further, some people who have Long Term Disability coverage don’t even know that they have it, or which insurance company it’s with, how much coverage they have, or the duration of their coverage.

To be fair, the monthly long term disability amount is normally not a fixed amount, rather it’s a fixed percentage based on your annual salary or income. This fixed percentage/amount is subject to a variety of set offs such as CPP Disability benefits, WSIB Benefits, other collateral income benefits etc. The Long Term Disability Benefit can also be subject to a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) which would increase the monthly LTD benefit based on a fixed inflation calculation.

In any event, calculating the LTD benefit can be tricky, and can be a mathematical challenge for even the finest actuary.

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