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Why your family doctor is so important to your personal injury or long term disability claim (Ontario)

Over the past few months, we have seen a war play out in the media between Ontario doctors and the Ontario government. Doctors and the province have been operating without a proper contract in place for quite some time. Neither side can agree to terms. Ontario unilaterally cut doctor fees, along with certain billing codes. The result is that it has presented a cut to Ontario’s thousands of doctors. Doctors are fighting this in Court by way of Charter challenge. It’s pretty interesting to see the public relations battle play out in the media. Not to mention that Ontario doctors are actually launching a Charter challenge, which gets any lawyer excited.

Some doctors are chosing to scale back their hours (why work more for less), close clinics, or move out of unprofitable centres. This was discussed in yesterday’s Globe and Mail which examined how some doctors were closing clinics (methadone and radiology) on account of the cuts to the OHIP system and billings.

The purpose of this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog is to examine the crucial role which family doctors play in the context of a personal injury or long term disability case. At the end of the day, the family doctor can be the MOST IMPORTANT person on an injured accident victim or disability claimant’s team.

The great thing about Canada, is seeing a medical doctor is FREE. This is in stark contrast to the United States, whereby, for the most part, every time you visit you doctor, you have to pay for the visit (not withstanding Obama Care).

Not having to pay to see a family doctor or attend at the hospital is fantastic. From a medical perspective, you don’t have to pay exorbitant fees to get better.

From a legal perspective, it’s fantastic because it puts the accident victim or disability claimant in the driver seat to build their case with medical evidence.

Personal Injury and Long Term Disability claims are built on EVIDENCE. It’s not enough for an injured Plaintiff to get up on the stand and say that they’re hurt or injured. The Plaintiff has to prove their case and their oral testimony isn’t going to cut it in a Court of law. That testimony needs to be supported by concrete medical evidence. This most often starts with the clinical notes and records of the family doctor.

Every time you visit your family doctor, they are supposed to take detailed notes. Those notes contain information about your complaints, their medical opinion, their prognosis, their diagnosis, their treatment recommendations along with any medical you’re taking or which is being prescribed. It’s those medical notes which are later relied on in building a personal injury or disability claim. Those medical notes provide the best insight in to the nature or your pain, injuries, complaints and quality of life. If those medical notes have multiple entries stating “Patient feeling fine, no complaints” vs. a Plaintiff’s testimony stating that they were in constant pain following their car accident; who do you think a Judge and Jury is going to believe.

This is again in contrast to medical records which have multiple and consistent entries showing “Patient in constant pain +++, depression, frustration, cannot return to work after car accident, Percocet x 3/day, referral to Pain Clinic“.mdaf

These sort of records are valuable evidence in an personal injury case, or long term disability claim. But more importantly than those records, is the role which the family doctor plays in the context of your care and recovery.

Much like a bank teller when you visit the bank, the family doctor is your first point of contact or the gatekeeper to the health care system. The family doctor can prescribe you with medication to get better. They can point you in the right direction to community based care, treatment and rehabilitation programs. The can make referrals to doctors or for diagnostic testing like an x-ray, CT Scan or MRI. All of these things are important to your recovery, and towards proving an injury or disability in a Court of Law.

Unfortunately, not all family doctors are amazing. Some are more sympathetic than others. Some don’t believe in chronic pain or won’t take your medical problems seriously. It may seem like they’re brushing you off. Some doctors may simply be too busy, overwhelmed, or have personal problems in their respective lives which are taking away from their ability to work efficiently.

Some of our clients contact us and ask whether or not they have the ability to change family doctors, and how this change will impact their case.

It’s important to note that getting a family doctor isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and one magically appears and can take you on as a patient. Many of our clients, particularly those in more rural and remote areas have tremendous difficulties finding a family doctor.

I will share with you what I share with everyone who asks: A FAMILY DOCTOR WHO YOU PERCEIVE AS “BAD” IS ALWAYS BETTER THEN NO FAMILY DOCTOR AT ALL. Before you make a switch to a different doctor, make sure you have a new doctor lined up who can take you on as a patient.

The same information I have provided with respect to a family doctor, applies equally to a nurse practitioner. Some areas simply don’t have doctors and people rely heavily on Nurse Practitioners to serve in the role of family doctors.

Here is a great website from the Ontario Government regarding tips on finding a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

If you have more questions about how family doctors and nurse practitioners can impact your personal injury or long term disability claim, don’t hesitate to contact our office at Goldfinger Personal Injuyr Law 1-877-730-1777 or by email at

Enough law talk? Sure. We are proud this year not only to sponsor the Injury Report for all Toronto Raptor radio broadcasts, but we are also proud to be the lead sponsor of the Raptor Republic Rapcast, a True North ESPN affiliate. You can hear Brian Goldfinger’s smooth voice by tuning in every week on Mondays at the link above. Until then, the Raptors remain in a playoff position, which is nice to see for a Toronto professional sports franchise; as the term “playoffs” is used so infrequently…for good reason.

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