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One of the most common questions which personal injury lawyers must answers is “how much is my case really worth“?

This question is never easy to answer. These questions are largely fact specific. Even the most serious analysis of the facts and evidence cannot predict the answer with pin point accuracy. The reason for this is that the majority of personal injury cases are heard by juries. Juries by their very nature are unpredictable. Judges can be unpredictable as well. If the Judge and Jury like the Plaintiff, then the award will likely be larger. If the Judge and Jury don’t like the Plaintiff, then the award will likely be smaller. In any event, predicting the outcome of a personal injury case, along with predicting the value is not an exact science.

There are certainly guidelines and parameters which personal injury lawyers use to predict the range of damages for a case. Precedent case law is certainly the most accurate tool for that. The general public can look up old cases FOR FREE on a great website called Canlii.

Free to use. Easy to navigate. With relatively good case updates, although not a comprehensive list of cases; Canlii is certainly an excellent resource even for the non-lawyer.

Some easier predictors for case valuation are long term disability cases. The reason being is that we are fighting over benefits which can mathematically be quantified and are payable over a fixed period of time pursuant to the Long Term Disability policy in place.

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Our personal injury lawyers constantly field questions from prospective clients regarding the basic steps of what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario.

We must admit, the laws surrounding car accidents in Ontario are confusing. They certainly aren’t straight forward by any means. It comes as no surprise to our lawyers that people have questions, and LOTS of them!

This is why our law firm has put forward this easy to understand claims guide in order to assist you after you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, motorcycle accident, or have been hit by a car as a pedestrian.

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Our law firm has written many articles on how to complete the OCF-3 Disability Certificate in previous editions of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.

Your can read these previous articles here, here, or here.

Don’t get me wrong. Those articles are great and contain valuable information for accident victims, their loved ones, doctors, therapists, even insurance adjusters.

But those articles are dated. Accident benefit and car insurance law is ever changing!!!

The standard OCF claim forms are constantly being updated. We have no reasonable explanation as to why the OCF forms get changed around so often aside from the government is constantly changing car accident law to keep lawyers and insurers on their toes. These changes generally seem to favour large insurers, but that’s another story all together.

The end result is that injured accident victims, doctors, therapists and rehab clinics may be using old forms which won’t be accepted by the insurer when submitted.

In fact, we’ve had experience with more than one adjuster who has submitted the wrong/dated OCF form to our clients by mistake. Our lawyers don’t blame them. The system and the constant tweeks/updates to accident benefit and car insurance law has made an already complex system even more complex and burdensome to accident victims, service providers and insurers alike.

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In Ontario, if you win your case, a judge cannot award you a victory medal, a ticker tape celebratory parade, or a key to the City in your honour. The Judge also cannot order that the at fault party experience the same pain and suffering which you endure.

The only thing the Judge can do is award you compensation in the form of MONEY.  What you do with that money is up to you. So, if you want to take that money from your personal injury case and use it to get a permit and then have a celebratory parade, go right ahead.

It’s nothing personal, it’s busiess

The reality is that personal injury litigation is a serious business. It’s a business because there is money at stake.

That money doesn’t come from a small local charity or a mom and pop’s store/restaurant. In most cases, that money comes from a large, multi national insurance company with offices across Canada and other parts of the world. Most of these insurers trade publicly on stock exchanges world wide. They exist to earn a profit. The more money these insurers pay out in awards, the less money they get to report in profit for their share holders. Continue reading →

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Not many people know this, but my family used to own a farm in Brockville, ON. Brockville is east of Kingston, near the Ontario/Quebec border. My grandparents owned a large farm with hundreds of cows, some chickens and large vegetable garden. I still have memories of the farm. On occasion, my grandfather would threaten me if I didn’t listen by saying he would take my toys away and give them to the cows. I sure listened after that.

As Goldfinger legend has it, the farm house burned down on account of a spontaneous hey fire. The only things that were saved were the  family photo albums. And if you ask around, there are a few epic shots of yours truly hanging out with the cows we had.

The reason I’m bringing up Brockville is because it reminds me of a special client our law firm worked with. This client was involved in a single car motor vehicle accident just outside of Brockville. Years went by and this person never thought of retaining a lawyer. She was at fault for the single car accident, so there was nobody to sue (you can’t sue yourself for your own negligence). The person was scared to consult with a lawyer for these reasons. S/he didn’t know where to turn, what to do, or how the system worked. She was lost, and just went along with whatever the insurer suggested.

The person sustained multiple orthopaedic injuries and a brain injury in the car accident. This was by no means a minor collision, and the injuries were significant. I’ll talk more about the significance of those injuries later on in this Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog Post.

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If you asked any injured accident victim, or long term disability claimant how much they believed their case to be worth, you would get all sorts of varying ranges of damages.

Most injured accident victims and disability claimants don’t understand how the law works. They also don’t understand how the laws of damages work for their respective personal injury claims. The laws of damages deal with quantifying the value of a personal injury claim.

Our lawyers would love a system where you can arbitrarily make up numbers to assess general damages for claims.

The limitations of those damage awards would only capped at horizons of your imagination.

You can start with guestimating that the value of your claim is $10,000,00. But why stop there? Why not bump up the value of your claim to $20,000,000……But why stop there?!?!? $30,000,000 is a larger sum than $20,000,000…..You can keep going until your face turns blue. There are no limits aside from your imagination.

Unfortunately for claimants and their personal injury lawyers, the laws of damages don’t work like that. Continue reading →

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What does it take to be found disabled under your Long Term Disability Policy? A kind adjuster? A lenient policy? Good handwriting on the LTD application? A good LTD lawyer? Or is it just dumb luck?

Our lawyers wish we had the answer to get you approved right away. A good lawyer will certainly help, but a good lawyer can only play the hand that s/he has been dealt.

Even winning claims can take time to win as the insurer has to be satisfied that the applicant’s disability is not only legitimate, but also meets the definition of “disability” contained in the policy of insurance.

The tricky thing for adjusters is that every LTD policy is different. They all contain different definitions of disability, different time lines to consider, along with different benefit amounts.

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In a recent survey taken by the “Campaign Research Poll” of 506 Toronto voters found that 60% of them wanted cyclists to be licensed and insured. 57% of those surveyed also wanted the City of Toronto to have more bike lanes.

This poll raised significant debate for motorists, cyclists and politicians. Personal Injury Lawyers and insurers got involved as well (as they should).

It should be noted that some of the most serious accident cases which our law firm handles deals with cyclist accidents. It only makes sense. When a bike collides with a car, the car will win! The bike doesn’t have seatbelt, bumpers, anti lock brakes, or air bags to soften the blow. A bike accident is a pure collision of flesh and bone vs. car and pavement. The damage is frequently catastrophic, even fatal.

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Our law firm often gets calls from soon to be Long Term Disability claimants asking our lawyers to fill out their forms. We realize that the LTD application forms can be overwhelming, complex, with some hard to answer questions. Not all questions can be answered in a “yes/no” fashion.

Filling out LTD application forms is not something which our lawyers do. But, we can help give you a few tips on how to get your Long Term Disability claim a fighting chance of getting approved. Without further ado, here are Goldfinger Injury Lawyers’s tips on how to get your LTD claim approved at first instance:

1. If you want a benefit, you first need to apply for it! This seems like such a simple premise, but you would be amazed at how many people don’t understand it. Your Long Terms Disability benefits won’t just land magically in your lap without you first applying! Do you really think that an LTD insurer wants to pay you money without you not even yet applying for said benefit? LTD insurers don’t exist to give away money for nothing… There are mounds and mounds of forms which need to be submitted. And just because those forms have been submitted, doesn’t mean they will be looked at in a timely manner. Get those application forms submitted, and don’t sit around on it. There are  provisions in every LTD policy our lawyers have seen with respect to the timing of the application in relation to the last day you may have worked. Waiting around on getting that application in will jeopardize that timing and may give the insurer a reason to deny your LTD claim for failure to abide by the limitation periods as set for in the LTD policy.

2.  Make sure that your family doctor or specialist is on board with the LTD application. You will need a doctor or specialist to complete a medical certificate in support of your LTD application. If your family doctor or specialist doesn’t believe that your disabled, chances are the medical certificate which s/he completes will also NOT support your LTD application. That unfavourable medical certificate will give the LTD insurer a reason to deny your claim. If you have a more supportive doctor of your disability, consult that doctor for his/her assistance in completing the medical certificate.

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Sometimes, our personal injury lawyers think that car accident law has been purposely designed just to trip people up.

How else can you explain:

a) $36,920 deductible for a pain and suffering award in a car accident claim

b) $73,840 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 2 car accidents

c) $110,760 deductible for a pain and suffering award if involved in 3 car accidents!

d) these deductibles increase year after year with inflation

e) serious and permanent threshold for pain and suffering claims which cannot be shared with the jury at trial

f) the deductibles cannot be shared with the jury at trial either

The purpose of car insurance and accident benefits is consumer protection legislation. This seems like a stretch goal (pardon the Kathleen Wynnism) considering the way the law actually works, and how the law has evolved such that the scales of justice are tipped so far in favour of insurers, it makes it almost miraculous if a Plaintiff succeeds at trial.

This theme of insurance law as consumer protection legislation was highlighted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the decision of Smith v. Co-operators General Insurance Co., [2002] 2 SCR 129, 2002 SCC 30 (CanLII) If you haven’t read the case, it’s worth a read. An oldie, but a goody!

Here, the Supreme Court stated:

There is no dispute that one of the main objectives of insurance law is consumer protection, particularly in the field of automobile and home insurance.  The Court of Appeal was unanimous on this point and the respondent does not contest it.  In Insurance Law in Canada(loose-leaf ed.), vol. 1, Professor Craig Brown observed, “In one way or another, much of insurance law has as an objective the protection of customers”….0001r_Goldfinger-200x300

The Supreme Court goes on to add:

In my opinion, the insurer is required under s. 71 to inform the person of the dispute resolution process contained in ss. 279 to 283 of the Insurance Act in straightforward and clear language, directed towards an unsophisticated person.  At a minimum, this should include a description of the most important points of the process, such as the right to seek mediation, the right to arbitrate or litigate if mediation fails, that mediation must be attempted before resorting to arbitration or litigation and the relevant time limits that govern the entire process.  Without this basic information, it cannot be said that a valid refusal has been given. 

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