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.
I can tell you that at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers, new client intake calls resulting from assaults (or random acts of violence), have spiked dramatically as well. And these assaults are so random. They are committed by strangers in public places for apparently no reason whatsoever. And in the vast majority of the cases, the victim of the assault was simply in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The assaults were completely unprovoked, and done by someone who appeared to be suffering from some sort of mental illness.
So what do you do when these random acts of violence happen to you, or to a friend, family member or loved one?
That’s a good question.
For starters, our law firm handles civil claims. The only thing we can get our clients is monetary compensation. We cannot put anyone behind bars. Nor can we compel the perpetrator to provide you with attendant care services. The recovery from a civil lawsuit is rather limited. Think of it as money (compensation), for your pain and suffering along with other heads of damages (past/future care costs, housekeeping, home maintenance, income loss and loss of competitive advantage in the workplace). Civil lawsuits are about money.
For many people, winning a civil lawsuit presents vindication that they were in the right; and that the other party were in the wrong. That civil Judgment, no matter how big or how small represents “justice“. This feeling of “winning” the case really resonates with people who say that their lawsuit is not about the money. Kinda like Gwyneth Paltrow who won her civil lawsuit for $1 resulting from a personal injury claim on a ski hill.
But in that case, the Plaintiff was suing a multi millionaire actress and business person. Ms. Paltrow had money no only afford a team of lawyers to defend the lawsuit against her, but to potentially pay out on a Judgment awarded against her. She was not a Judgment proof Defendant.
What do you do when the party who caused the damage is a total stranger, and does not have the same public profile, or money in the bank as a person like Gwyneth Paltrow?
First thing’s first: You have to find out the name and address of the proposed Defendant. Your lawyer (and you) should find out as much about that person as you can.
Are they gainfully employed?
Are they on ODSP, OW or CPP?
Do they have any other Judgments or incumbrances against them?
One of the first rules of litigation (in general) is to sue a party with deep pockets. This is because you cannot get blood from a stone. If the Defendant is without any assets (on welfare, renting, unemployed), then you may very well win the case and secure a Judgment. But if the Defendant cannot pay out on the Judgment; then that Judgment’s value is next to none. The Plaintiff won’t get paid if the Defendant cannot satisfy the Judgment because they don’t have the means to do so.
And this is what we are seeing with so many of these random acts of violence cases. The wrong doer is often judgment proof. They have limited finances, and are living off government assistance. You cannot get blood from a stone. The same way you cannot collect from someone who has not assets. It’s also important to note that there is no such thing as insurance for committing a criminal act. A random act of violence is a criminal act. No insurer will cover a Defendant for such an act of violence in a public place. If the random act of violence is committed by an employee, agent or contractor of a company of business, that’s a difference scenario. But when we are talking about a random stranger, at a random place, who is not engaged in any form of employment; then we have a situation where in all likelihood, there will be no insurance coverage for the act of harm. And that’s where things get dicey for a Plaintiff. The sad, but hard truth is that establishing a monetary recovery in these sort of cases is rather difficult. Where there’s no money, there’s no money. Even though the case is a “winner“; and a Judge has awarded a Plaintiff Judgment in his/her favour, you cannot collect what isn’t there. If a Defendant is without assets, without any finances, and already living at or near the poverty line, money will not rain down from the skies after a Judgment has been secured. Can securing a Judgment make the Defendant’s life more difficult? Certainly. But, if a Plaintiff’s objective is to get compensation for their injuries to make them whole again, that compensation in the majority of these random acts of violence cases isn’t there.