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One of the most common orthopedic injuries our personal injury lawyers see in slip and fall cases are broken ankle.

Not sprained. Not bruised. Broken ankles. Like the ankles when you fall you may hear a snap, crackle or pop; but in a bad way and not in the breakfast cereal type of way.

A broken ankle injury is very serious. Think about it for a moment.

When you stand, pressure is applied to your ankle.

When you walk, your ankle needs to flex. When you rotate, jump, bend, kneel; all of these movements puts pressure and strain on your ankle.

If your ankle goes in to a hard plaster cast, you’re out of commission. You can’t walk, run, or jump. Your doctor will recommend that you are non weight bearing. That means you’re not to put weight or pressure on your ankle. Translation: no walking or putting pressure on the ankle. Or if you are getting around, you will need to do so with crutches, a wheelchair, or one of those scooters you may see that allows you to raise an ankle while rolling around.

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Ride hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have dramatically changed the way we get around. Hailing a car from a ride share service is convenient, fast and easy.

The increased popularity of these services has created many hiccups for personal injury lawyers, and insurance companies alike.

To give you an idea of the popularity of drive sharing services, in March 2019 in Toronto, nearly 176,000 trips were taken. That’s a lot of trips!

The first major pitfall we saw as personal injury lawyers is what policy of insurance was appropriate for ride share drivers?

A standard car insurance policy wouldn’t cut it because these vehicles were being used for commercial purposes. There are different driving patterns and risks associated with insuring commercial vehicles versus insuring normal residential communing vehicles. Add to that the additional risk of drivers taking on strangers in their cars, driving to/from unfamiliar places with timing constraints to get to a certain destination on time; it all adds to additional risk for insurers.

The first drive share cases which personal injury lawyers saw dealt with accidents involving such vehicles, where insurance companies were denying coverage because the driver failed to disclose that they were driving the vehicle for commercial purposes.

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Everyone loves a good acronym. It’s fun to guess what the letters in the acronym stand for…..or don’t.

Here are a few non legal examples:

BRB Be right back

GTG Got to Go

LOL Laugh Out Loud

Here are a few legal examples of acronyms which personal injury lawyers in Ontario see everyday:

IRB Income Replacement Benefit

NEB Non Earner Benefit

SOC Statement of Claim

ACB Attendant Care Benefit

Here is one acronym which has been in use for over 20 years in legal circles which will soon go extinct:

FSCO Financial Services Commission of Ontario

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario is a regulatory agency of the Ontario Government that use to regulate insurance, pension plans, loan and trust companies, credit unions, caisses populaires, mortgage brokers, and co-operative corporations in Ontario. FSCO regulated or registered:

  • 316 insurance companies
  • 7,022 pension plans
  • 98 credit unions and caisses populaires
  • 57 loan and trust corporations
  • 1,216 mortgage brokerages
  • 2,754 mortgage brokers
  • 12,275 mortgage agents
  • 184 mortgage administrators
  • 4,630 accident benefit service providers
  • 1,764 co-operative corporations
  • 54,128 insurance agents
  • 5,911 corporate insurance agencies
  • 1,740 insurance adjusters 

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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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Every single client that personal injury lawyer Brian Goldfinger has met believes that his/her case is worth at the very least, $1,000,000 (if not more).

But why stop at $1,000,000?

Why not $2,000,000?

Or $3,000,000?

How about $10,000,000?

Better yet, let’s make it $50,000,000 plus three Ferraris, a life time supply of groceries and a lakefront Muskoka cottage.

There are no limits to our imaginations and expectations for our respective cases.

But unfortunately, there are limitations at law for how much you can receive in your personal injury case, along with what exactly you can claim for.

When clients here about these limitations (essentially how the law works in Ontario), they are left disappointed and thinking that “the law sucks“. I agree. The law does suck. And it sucks especially hard for innocent car accident victims who did NOTHING WRONG, except for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time and suffering a serious injury as a result of the negligence of another individual.

When reading this installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, please keep this in mind. All the law can do is try to make you whole, to compensate you “fairly” for your injuries. The law only in very rare cases punishes defendants with punitive or aggravated damages. Defendants are entitled to more protections under the law than innocent plaintiffs. We see these protections in the form of caps on general damages, secret credits called “deductibles“, medico-legal thresholds to hit in order to recover compensation along with damage set offs or credits for at fault defendants.

Car accident laws in Ontario have been drafted, crafted, carefully thought out and manipulated by large deep pocketed insurance companies to reduce their risk and exposure in cases like yours. The lower their risk and exposure, the more profitable these insurance companies can be.

The Ontario government for many years has caved in to insurance company demands with respect to the laws, in particular for car accident claims. The thinking was that the more insurers saved, the easier they would be able to pass along these savings to the consumer to reduce car insurance rates to make everyone happy. But ask yourself, over the past decade have your car insurance rates decreased? Likely not. But the benefits you’re eligible to receive have been slashed significantly. The end result is that Ontario consumers are paying MORE for car insurance, but getting LESS coverage and benefits under their plans.

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The last installment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog dealt specifically with tips and tricks for long term disability claims in Ontario.

That Blog entry was a resounding success. We received considerable positive feedback and inquiries that we thought we would keep the ball rolling with a second installment of tips and tricks for long term disability claims in Ontario.

These tips and tricks are based on what our long term disability lawyers see in our every day practice. We see a variety of pitfalls which trip up our clients which we would like you to avoid. Knowing how to deal with a long term disability insurer and making the right moves at the outset of your long term disability claim will help get your claim started on the right foot so hopefully, you don’t get denied.

But if your long term disability claim does in fact get denied, feel free to contact Goldfinger Injury Lawyers in confidence for your free no hassle, confidential consultation. All of our cases are taken on a contingency fee basis meaning you don’t pay any upfront legal fees, unless we win the case for you. This gives you the client access to our Court system which is very expensive and acts as a barrier for most people to bring claims against large deep pocketed insurance companies.

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Lots of people call my law firm for legal advice for their long term disability claims. Often for these people, it’s their first time dealing with a large insurance company over a claim of significant value which can impact the course of their financial security for the rest of their lives.

Questions like:

What should I (or shouldn’t) say to the adjuster over the phone?

How do I complete all of these forms?

Who should complete these forms?

When should I apply for long term disability benefits?

How can I apply for long term disability benefits?

What must I do once my long term disability claim gets denied?

Should I appeal the long term disability insurer’s decision; and if so; how do I go about that?

When should I retain a long term disability lawyer?

How much will retaining a long term disability lawyer cost?

How long will my case take to get settled or go to trial?

As you can see, people have a lot of questions regarding their long term disability claims. This is completely understandable. Long Term Disability claims are hard to understand right off the bat! They are contractual disputes. The terms of each contract are different. They all depend on the wording of the policy and each policy of insurance is similar; but it’s NOT the same. This is what makes things a bit confusing.

A car accident is easy to understand. In a car accident case, an at fault driver causes a car accident and is held accountable for the pain, suffering and ensuing economic losses they have created through their own negligence.

A long term disability case is based on the wording contained in the policy of long term disability insurance. These policies are long, verbose and hard to understand. There are multiple clauses, exceptions, time periods etc which makes hard even for an experienced long term disability lawyer to understand.

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If you are hurt or injured in a car accident in Ontario, you will be entitled to an array of accident benefits.

These accident benefits are paid by your own car insurer, regardless of fault. If you did not have car insurance at the time of the car accident, the order of who pays for those accident benefits is determined based on a set of priority rules as defined under the Insurance Act and the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (“SABS”). This is often why you see insurance companies fighting not against a Plaintiff, but against each other in an attempt to “pass the buck” so to say to determine who is responsible for paying an injured accident victim’s accident benefits. Because the truth is insurance companies would rather not pay if they don’t have to. Can you blame them?

Speaking of passing the buck, one of the benefits which an injured accident victim may be eligible for is called the income replacement benefit or IRB.

The income replacement benefit is only available to income earners. If you were not earning an income at the time of the accident, or not employed but either worked 26 off the 52 weeks for the accident, you will not be entitled to the income replacement benefit. Self employed people are considered employed and working. But, recovering the income replacement benefit for self employed plaintiff’s can be very difficult. Establishing an income in a cash business, or in a business with limited record keeping makes it hard for insurers and their accountants to verify that you were working and entitled to the income replacement benefit. If they can establish that you are entitled to the income replacement benefit, quantifying that benefit can be very tricky. The reality is that self employed people often don’t show or report the entirety of their income because they don’t want to pay as much in tax. The problem with that is that you can only recover what you report to Revenue Canada. Your income replacement benefit is based on reportable income. The income replacement benefit is NOT based on unreported income, or moneys which are kept off the books. You can’t have it both ways. Continue reading →

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Mediation can be a very nerve wracking experience; although it shouldn’t be.

But I get it.

For the majority of Plaintiffs involved in a personal injury case, it’s your first time participating in a mediation. You don’t know how a mediation works, what to do, what to wear, what to expect, or how long the mediation will take place that day.

Your personal injury lawyer should prepare you for these questions and fears, but no amount of preparation will get you ready for the real thing. You have to do it, and go through the highs and the lows to really know it.

It’s important to know at mediation, there is no Judge; no Jury; no recording devices. You cannot “win” or “lose” at mediation. The case will either settle, or it won’t settle. Sometimes, even when the case doesn’t settle, it may resolve shortly thereafter because the parties have sought additional authority, or have had some time to let the position of the other side sink in. Either way, there is no Judgement or Verdict coming out from the mediation process.

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Brian Goldfinger has been practising law long enough to have seen some very good practices from personal injury lawyers in Ontario; along with some very bad practices from personal injury lawyers in Ontario.

When bad things happen to people; they often turn to Brian Goldfinger to right the ship and turn things around.

In this instalment of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, we pick Brian Goldfinger’s mind to find out some not so good stories from clients he has seen in the past in terms of what not to do when retaining a personal injury lawyer in Ontario.

  1. Meet with your personal injury lawyer: All too often, Brian Goldfinger has been approached by prospective clients with personal injury cases who are being handled by other personal injury lawyers or paralegals. When Brian asks them who their lawyer is; the client cannot say. When asked whether or not they have met with a personal injury lawyer, spoken to one, or corresponded with one in relation to their case, often the answer is a firm “no”. When pressed further, the truth comes out that they never met a personal injury lawyer before. Instead, they met with a non lawyer who called themselves a “consultant” or a “client care specialist”, or some other fancy non-legal title. These people are not personal injury lawyers. They are people who give themselves fancy titles. These people may act as agents or servants or employees for the law firm they work for or represent whose sole job is to run around the City or Province and get clients and sign up clients. Never meeting with or speaking with your personal injury lawyer from the start is recipe for disaster. When you hire a real estate agent, do you meet with that agent or do you meet with his/her agent or secretary? When you need to get surgery, do you meet with the surgeon ahead of time to discuss the procedure, or do you meet with the surgeon’s agent? The same applies when it comes to your personal injury lawyer. Know who you’re hiring.

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