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

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Everyday, our personal injury law firm receives calls from people who have been involved in car accidents in Ontario.

Some people reside in Ontario.

Other people reside outside of Ontario.

Some accident victims have their own car insurance.

Others have no form of car insurance whatsoever.

Their common connection is that they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario; and now; don’t know what to do; or where to turn.

They don’t know the right things to do. They don’t want to do the wrong things either. It’s their first time being involved in a serious car accident and they are looking for answers.

People tell me that they weren’t taught in school how to handle a car accident case with an insurance company. Nor is there any quick and easy book on what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident. They are right in stating that what to do after a car accident isn’t on the standard school curriculum. But, there is a fast and quick guide on what to do after they’ve been involved in a car accident in Ontario. The Goldfinger Guide to Fair Compensation is a great starting point and it can be found in the link above. Reading the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog (as you are right now!) is another great resource.

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The July 1st Canada Day Long Weekend is fast approaching. People are excited to celebrate Canada Day.

Having practiced in the field of personal injury law in Ontario for over 2 decades, I can tell you that there are patterns for car accident cases.

Would it surprise you if I told that that our office sees a spike in car accident; and other accident related claims shortly after a long weekend? While I cannot single out the Canada Day Long Weekend in particular; what I can say is that we see a spike in accident calls shortly after a long weekend.

There are very good reasons for this.

For starters, many people are on the move over a long weekend. They are all out and about. Going on a trip, driving off to see friends, headed camping or to a beach to relax. Either way you slice it, more people are on the move over a long weekend, compared to a normal weekend.

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After a car accident, an innocent accident victim needs care and treatment to recover from their accident related injuries.

Treatment like physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic care and seeing a psychologist are not free. These items are not covered by OHIP for accident victims. If you want any of this sort of treatment, you will either need to pay out for it out of your own pocket, have an insurer agree to pay for it; or work out some deal with the provider that they provide care now; and that someone (you or an insurer) pays for it later. If the insurer doesn’t agree to pay under this last model, you are the one who will end up paying for it personally.

This is when the OCF-18 Treatment Plan comes in to play. This is essentially a permission slip; whereby the service provider puts forth a plan to provide treatment to an injured accident victim at a set rate. The insurer will either approve (or partially approve) for the treatment. Or they will deny it.

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No personal injury case is ever the same.

Some may be similar; or may share similar characteristics. But, no two personal injury cases are never the same.

There are so many variables which can change a personal injury case. These variables are seemingly infinite. Here are a few which personal injury lawyers and Courts have to consider:

  • The age of the Plaintiff. This impacts his/her future income calculation, future care, and life expectancy
  • The way the accident happened
  • The policy limits relating to the accident
  • The availability of collateral benefits to a Plaintiff
  • How much the Plaintiff was earning (or not), in the years before the accident
  • The Plaintiff’s pre-accident and post accident health, along with what they did (or didn’t do) to get better
  • How the Plaintiff, and/or Defendant presented at Examination for Discovery
  • If any surveillance has been taken of the Plaintiff; and if so; what that surveillance showed, or didn’t show
  • The status of a Plaintiff’s accident benefit case (where available)
  • What the Defence Medical Reports say vs. what the Plaintiff’s expert reports say
  • The information contained in the clinical notes and records
  • Is the family doctor supportive (or not) to the Plaintiff’s case
  • Are there any causation issues with respect to the accident related injuries
  • Are the injuries subjective or objective. If the injuries are subjective, is the Plaintiff credible, believable and/or likeable
  • Will the case be proceeding by way of Judge alone, or in front of a Jury
  • Special considerations when it comes to liability (i.e. suing a government, municipality vs. suing a private citizen)
  • In the case of a motor vehicle accident; are the threshold and deductible live issues for the case

And the list goes on and on.

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What happens when someone hits you with their vehicle, and they drive off from the accident scene? The at fault driver is unidentified. The collision took place so quickly, that you weren’t able to get a license plate number. The at fault driver obviously didn’t stop to check if you are ok; or to exchange insurance information. Or perhaps the injuries are so bad that you loose consciousness; or you are in so much pain that you can’t track down the at fault driver.

How do you handle these situations? How do you sue a party who cannot be identified?

These are great questions.

These types of unidentified driver situations happen more than you might think.

Often, when they happen, the at fault driver has their nefarious reasons for not stopping. They might be trying to avoid all interaction with the police because they shouldn’t be driving; the are operating a vehicle illegally; they have something illegal/stolen in their vehicle; they are operating a stolen vehicle; or a vehicle which they aren’t allowed to be driving; they are unlicensed; they are uninsured; or perhaps they have so many car accidents on their driving record that one more will result in an automatic suspension of their driver’s license; or a dramatic increase of their car insurance premiums. In all of these situations, the at fault driver is attempting to avoid any interaction with authorities.

In other cases, the at fault driver may not have even known that they were involved in an accident at all. They may have not noticed, or felt any impact resulting from the collision. This can happen when a large vehicle makes the slightest contact with a cyclist or a pedestrian. The impact to the large vehicle is hardly noticeable on account of the size of the vehicle. On the other hand, the impact to the pedestrian or cyclist can be catastrophic

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I had an in person attendance in Court for the first time since I can remember dating back to when the Pandemic shut down the Courts. During the Pandemic, and afterwards, most Courts have opted for virtual attendances. This has lead to increased efficiency for our Courts. They can do more, with less resources. It also translates into considerable savings for clients and self represented litigants. They don’t have to pay for their lawyer’s travel time, or any mileage, parking etc. Clients and litigants also don’t have to travel either. They can log in to Court from the comfort of their own home. That is more comfortable, and less intimidating for clients and litigants.

But this Court (in Guelph) required an in person attendance for the hearing of an Application under the Insurance Act as it related to a catastrophic car accident case. It was nice to be back in Court, in person.

A few observations after a long lay off from in person Court appearances.

As a lawyer, you take it for granted that you appear robbed in front of a Judge, while litigants and clients are in plain clothes. The robes really make you stand out. This has its positives, and negatives.

Because I was wearing my litigation robes, I was approached by two separate people in the Courthouse who were looking for directions, and also looking for legal advice; and in turn, looking for a lawyer.

As a robbed lawyer, in the Courthouse, you become a part of the production so to say. You wouldn’t see a gowned up lawyer anywhere else but a Courthouse. The robes signal to the world that you are a lawyer, and that they are in a Courthouse where laws get made.

Being asked for legal advice, or being asked whether or not I could help a stranger with their case was not odd. It kinda happens all of the time once people find out that you’re a lawyer. Everyone seems to have a hypothetical question regarding a “friend’s” legal problem which they want solved, or some tips on how to manage the situation. But, it had been a long time since that happened randomly inside of a Courthouse because it had been so long since I needed to attend at Court in person.

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Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes. Sometimes they are honest mistakes. Other times, they are avoidable. We certainly don’t expect regulated professionals to make mistakes, but they do. It happens.

But, when a pharmacist makes an error, it can be deadly or result in very serious health consequences.

When a pharmacist makes an error in the dispensing of medication, this is called a dispensing error case. And our law firm, Goldfinger Injury Lawyers has handled countless dispensing error cases throughout the years. Here are some common types of dispensing error cases we have seen.

The Right Medication, but the Wrong Dosage

In these cases, the pharmacists gets the medication correct, but dispenses the incorrect dosage. Too little of the medication often times doesn’t cause much harm (but it can). Take the example of a seizure medication or an anti-nausea medication. Too little won’t have the desired effect. Too much of a certain medication can have deadly consequences. Most common in these cases are the dispensing of methadone. A doctor may prescible a 10mg dosage, but the pharmacist accidentally dispenses 100mg of methadone. Too much methadone can result in seizures, stopping to breath, muscle damage and other issues. Naloxone is a medication which quickly reverses the effect of an opioid like methadone. If you don’t get a Naloxone injection quickly after the overdose, or you aren’t taken to hospital quickly, the overdose can have life long consequences.

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When I was a young lawyer, I worked at a law firm in Yorkville that had 2 dogs and a cat.

I had never worked in any office environment that had any sort of animal. Having a dog, or a cat, let alone multiple animals in a law office, seemed very strange to me. When I thought about the idea of a traditional law firm, the image of a dog or a cat in the office never came to mind.

The previous law firms I worked at were in large office towers; on Bay Street in Downtown Toronto. There were no animals allowed in those office towers. Even if there were animals allowed, the financial district was not the ideal place to walk a dog. Taking the dog in a business elevator with all of those white collar executives wasn’t the right fit. Nor was going outside of your tower multiple times per day to get the dog some fresh air.

But I was not working at a traditional law firm.  I was working at a personal injury law firm. And the thing about personal injury law, is…well…you guessed it…It’s rather personal.

Personal injury law firms do not represent large institutional clients like multi billion dollar, multi national corporations. Personal injury law firms represent everyday people, like you and me. So, the idea of having an office dog, was not so far fetched.

I’ve loved dogs all of my life. But, not to the point that I felt the urge to take my pet to work.

So what was it like having a dog (or two), along with a cat in the workplace?

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When I was a young personal injury lawyer, an odd case appeared on my desk.

The Plaintiff was an older automobile executive, who broke 3 vertebrae, torn his rotator cuff and fractured his skull in a car accident.

The injuries were quite significant. They prevented the client from returning to work, or engaging in his usual personal care and recreational activities. His life would be forever changed as a result of the car accident.

What was odd was that the car accident was a single car accident. The client was a passenger in the vehicle. The driver had lost control, drove the car off the shoulder of the road, and flipped the vehicle into a ditch along a deserted country road. I imagine that the car accident could have been even more serious had there been more vehicles involved.

So, in that case, the passenger would sue the driver for having lost control and flipped over the vehicle.

In this case, the driver was the client’s own daughter.

Isn’t that strange. A father, needing to sue his own daughter for his personal injuries arising from a car accident. It’s not like the daughter intentionally tried to flip over the vehicle. It was, by all accounts; an accident.

But how does that work, and what are the ramifications of a father, having to sue his own child for damages in a personal injury case? Can the daughter go to jail? Will her credit rating be ruined forever? Does she need to hire a personal injury lawyer to defend her claim? Will she need to go to trial and square off against her own father in open Court? Will this father/daughter personal injury case get really nasty such that Dad will take away Daughter’s TV and cell phone privileges?

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One of my biggest predictions coming out of COVID Lockdowns and the COVID Pandemic would be the rise of assaults.

After many months of being locked down and shut out of social interaction, people forgot how to be kind to one another. We forgot how to share public spaces. We forgot how to be patient, and polite to strangers. We had a lot of built up anger, angst, along with all sorts of other emotions (both positive and negative) after being locked down for so long. We were no longer able to behave like public places were our own living rooms. They were public spaces meant to be shared. Over the Pandemic, we forgot how to share these public spaces, and began to act in such a way which showed a lesser regard for our peers.

This problem is compounded by the increases in mental illness we have seen during the course of the Pandemic. Lack of access to medical care, having people locked down, increased unemployment with increased costs of living, increased interest rates…It’s all not good for one’s mental health.

Regretfully, the prediction that common assaults (or random acts of violence in public) would increase was correct. Just use the TTC as your benchmark. Since the Pandemic lockdowns ended, and we have done our best to return to a sense of normalcy, random acts of violence on the TTC have increased dramatically. A young boy was stabbed and murdered for no apparent reason. He was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

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