Archive for the ‘ Insurance Law ’ Category

ONTARIO’S AUTO LOTTO: DON’T EXPECT AN EASY JACKPOT FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING

 

 

Today in Ontario, it is more difficult than ever to pursue a claim for damages following a motor vehicle accident.

I have spoken with other experienced injury lawyers who have agreed with me that if they could start fresh in law, they wouldn’t choose personal injury as their primary area of practice.

So why is it so difficult to advance a claim these days?

For one, the insurance legislation has been very unfavourable towards accident victims. To be entitled to money for ‘pain and suffering’, the test to meet requires the claimant to prove a serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function” a.k.a. the “threshold test”. This test does NOT have to be met in injury cases other than car accidents. It is no wonder why insurers are all over this “threshold test” in auto claims and often take the view that “threshold will not be met”. This piece of legislation is a true gift from the politician gods to the insurers.

This gift comes with another little benefit called the “deductible”. This can be thought of as the beautiful red ribbon tied around the gift holding it all together. The deductible is the amount that gets deducted from any pain and suffering award under $100,000.00 and increases with inflation, which would make it approximately $37,000.00 today. So, in other words, if a claimant is so lucky enough to meet threshold, whatever they are awarded under $100,000.00 is subject to a deductible of $37,000.00. This means that if you’re awarded less than $37,000.00 for pain and suffering, you get ZERO.

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The Importance of Honest Income Reporting

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Honest reporting doesn’t just apply to journalists. It also applies to those pursuing a claim for income loss.

While fudging your reported income might save you from being taxed, it can create problems later on if you are injured in an accident and want to rely on your income tax returns to prove your pre-accident earning capacity. Read more

Stop Feeling Guilty About Suing The Person Who Injured You

 

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In my line of work as a personal injury lawyer, I am often surprised at the number of people who express sheer guilt in pursuing a personal injury claim. I often hear people say, “I feel funny about doing this” or “I’m not in a wheelchair so maybe it’s not worth it”. Is it the polite Canadian in us?

Yes folks, it is ACTUALLY true that good honest people can bring personal injury claims that are not paraplegics. It could be your grandmother, brother or next-door neighbor. Lets not be too quick to pass judgment. Leave that to the courts. Read more

TRAUMA SEASON IS HERE: KEEP SAFE & AVOID INJURIES

summer-drivingWith the deep freeze of winter finally behind us, the anticipation of summer being around the corner is causing people to get outside in droves to enjoy the sites and sounds of our city streets and neighborhoods. Joggers, bikers, skateboarder and other pedestrians and motorists are beginning to emerge in full force sharing the roads and sidewalks. Welcome to “Trauma Season”.

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WEARABLE TECH ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION

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With the Apple Watch release date just around corner, it is clear that the excitement, curiosity and growing popularity of wearable technology is bound to continue. This will also have a significant impact on the future of personal injury claims. So much of what we do is now recorded in digital form.

In today’s high tech world, the advent of wearable technology and the digitization of everything we touch, see and do leaves behind a trail of “digital handprints” and “digital fingerprints” to be tracked. Read more

ACCESSING JUSTICE THROUGH LEGAL EXPENSE INSURANCE: A NEW PERSPECTIVE FOR THE INJURED CLAIMANT

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Access to justice plays a vital role in maintaining the rule of law and ensuring fairness and equality within our civil justice system. In a perfect world, justice could be done without regard to the high costs of litigation.

Regrettably, we live in a world that is far from perfect and litigants must be mindful of the high costs and risks of litigation. Despite the challenges, the introduction of the often-underexplored option of Legal Expense Insurance (LEI) in Ontario may provide injured claimants with a greater sense of security to pursue claims with less concern for the financial risks involved.

Legal Expense Insurance is popular in Europe and Quebec and has recently gained some recognition in Ontario.

The following discussion will address some of the difficulties with our civil justice system and the ways that Legal Expense Insurance helps address these problems, with a focus on injured claimants.

CHALLENGES WITH ACCESS TO JUSTICE IN THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM

The Supreme Court of Canada has recently recognized the problems in our legal system regarding access to justice. In its recent decision of Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7, [2014] 1 S.C.R. 87, Justice Karakatsanis speaking for the Supreme Court stated at the outset:

“[e]nsuring access to justice is the greatest challenge to the rule of law in Canada today. Trials have become increasingly expensive and protracted. Most Canadians cannot afford to sue when they are wronged or defend themselves when they are sued, and cannot afford to go to trial.”

Injured claimants, even those with competent lawyers acting on a contingency fee basis (sometimes referred to as a “no win no fee” arrangement) may still face great financial risks associated with litigation against the deep pocketed insurance companies.  For example, in the event a claim proceeds to trial and is unsuccessful, the injured claimant may end up being responsible for paying the disbursements incurred from both sides and may also be liable to pay the insurance company’s legal bill, which could be very significant. For example, the cost of civil matters can vary but according to an October 2013 report published by the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, national ranges of legal fees may vary from “$13,561 – $37,229 for a civil action up to trial (2 days), $23,083 – $79,750 for a civil action up to trial (5 days), $38,296 – $124,574 for a civil action up to trial (7 days)”

The modernization and expansion of legal services to better promote access to justice is an ongoing challenge. According to the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters’ 2013 Report,

“Innovations are needed in the way we provide essential legal services in order to make them available to everyone. The profession — including the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, law societies, regional and other lawyer associations — will, together with the national and local access to justice organizations … take a leadership role in this important innovation process.”

One such innovation to reduce the financial risk of litigation is through Legal Expense Insurance.

HOW LEGAL EXPENSE INSURANCE BENEFITS INJURED CLAIMANTS:

This type of insurance can protect those pursuing personal injury claims by providing coverage for expenses and any legal costs that a claimant might otherwise have to pay out of their own pocket in the event that the claim is unsuccessful or abandoned.

For personal injury claims, the premiums for LEI would be deferred until the conclusion of the claim only if the claim is successful. If the claim is unsuccessful, no premium is payable and the policy would still provide coverage to the injured claimant against adverse legal costs and disbursements that they may otherwise be responsible for paying after losing their case.

The Law Society of Upper Canada has referred to Legal Expense Insurance as a “useful insurance product, with the potential to make legal services more accessible and affordable”.

Given the benefits of this innovative option, the insurance industry and its regulators should be encouraged to support greater distribution and sale of LEI as part of more standard insurance products.

In the field of personal injury litigation, the often-cited “David and Goliath” comparison between accident victims and defending insurers creates a financial power imbalance. However, LEI may serve as one such innovative development to level the playing field and reduce the financial power imbalance at play. Although not the cure to the access to justice problem, LEI may be part of the solution. After all, what good are legal rights if you can’t enforce them?

 

Reposted with permission from OTLABlog.com

CASHING IN ON YOUR INJURY CLAIM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON? THINK TWICE!

 

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With the holiday season finally here, a little extra pocket money won’t hurt this time of year. For those handling a personal injury claim on their own without a lawyer, that may mean taking a quick settlement with the insurance company to splurge a little bit more on gifts this holiday season.

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10 KEY LEGAL TIPS TO KNOW FOLLOWING A CAR ACCIDENT

 

There are a number of important tips to be aware of afterMVA a car accident. The actions taken (or not taken) by you can go a long way in deciding the success of your personal injury case. Below are 10 Key Legal Tips to be aware of following a car accident.

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Think Twice Before Releasing the Hounds: Dog Bite Law in Ontario

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The joy and happiness of dog ownership has been proven time and time again. However, with dog ownership also comes legal responsibly. After all, dog breeds of all shapes and sizes have the potential to inflict harm to other people or dogs and the legal consequences must be taken seriously.

In Ontario, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act R.S.O. 1990, Chapter D.16 (the “Act”) governs the law in relation to dog bites and attacks.

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Injured on Municipal Property? Act Fast

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If you are injured on Municipal property in Ontario, there are immediate actions that must be taken failing which you may lose your legal rights to claim against the Municipality. Read more