Court Decision Puts Ontario Accident Victims in a Tough Spot

When the Government of Ontario enacted sweeping changes to the province’s auto insurance system in 2016, it did so with the aim of reducing premiums by streamlining and simplifying the claims and pushing through broad benefits cuts. According to most Ontario car accident lawyers, the changes to benefits and shifting injury definitions in Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Insurance Rates Act, have had a negative impact on injury victims while also failing to significantly reduce premiums.

Another stipulation of Bill 15 was that responsibility for resolving accident benefits disputes between injury victims and insurers moved from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), a regulatory agency of the Ministry of Finance, to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). The change was met with skepticism by Ontario car accident lawyers, who noted that the LAT had no history of managing conflicts between insurance companies and vulnerable insureds.

The shift from the FSCO to the LAT has not been catastrophic for accident victims, but a ruling by the Superior Court of Ontario, recently upheld by the provincial Court of Appeal, may spell trouble. The case, Stegenga v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company, involved an allegation of bad faith against the insurer. The ruling confirmed the LAT’s jurisdiction over most bad faith cases, which limits potential awards for plaintiffs.

The Case

Fifteen-year-old Morgan Stegenga was seriously injured in a car accident in 2011. In addition to broken ribs, she suffered a head injury that affected her cognitive ability and caused personality, behavioural, and psychological changes, according to Canadian Underwriter.

Morgan’s family applied for accident benefits in 2012. Their insurer, Economical Mutual Insurance Company, failed to advise them that Morgan’s injuries may qualify as catastrophically impairment. It also failed, according to Law Times, to ‘investigate Stegenga’s condition, have her medically assessed, assign a case manager for her care and rehabilitation or respond to their requests for authorization of a neurologic psychoeducational assessment.’ The Stegenga family opted to sue, alleging that the insurer had breached its duty of good faith.

The Decisions

Ontario’s Insurance Act states that the LAT is responsible for “the resolution of disputes in respect of an insured person’s entitlement to statutory accident benefits or in respect of the amount of statutory accident benefits to which an insured person is entitled.” Superior Court Justice James Ramsay decided that Stegenga’s claim fell into this category and dismissed it.

In its appeal, the Stegenga family argued that the insurer’s duty to act in good faith was separate from its duty to provide benefits and could thus be addressed in court. Court of Appeal Justice Benjamin Zarnett disagreed and upheld the Superior Court’s decision. He cited lawmakers’ intent in his explanation.

“The legislature made a choice as to what disputes would be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the LAT, and what remedial powers the LAT would have. That was a policy choice it was entitled to make,” Justice Zarnett wrote. “The Insurance Act and its regulations form a comprehensive scheme for the regulation of insurers and insurance. The legislature must be taken to have armed the LAT with the remedial powers it considered appropriate to deal with improper insurer behaviour, knowing those remedial powers were different from the court’s.”

The Implications

The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Stegenga v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company will prevent accident victims from seeking damages outside the LAT from insurers acting in bad faith.

“This was an attempt by the personal injury plaintiff’s lawyers to try to preserve that bad faith cause of action and pursue it in court,” one lawyer told Law Times. “This just firmly shuts the door on the potential to recover for bad faith in a standalone action.”

It also limits the amount of compensation available to plaintiffs. In cases of bad faith, the LAT can make a special award of up to 50 per cent of the benefits that the injury is owed and can order the insurer to pay a higher interest rate, per Canadian Underwriter. But this is “much lower than the potential risk for a bad faith claim,” the lawyer who spoke to Law Times said.

Will the reduced maximum penalty for bad faith actions embolden insurance companies to act unethically? That is certainly a concern for many Ontario car accident lawyers. However, it is still far too early to know how the Stegenga v. Economical decision will affect insurer behaviour moving forward.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and are considering claiming accident benefits, contact Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our experienced team of Ontario car accident lawyers can help. We will be happy to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case and offer advice on how best to proceed. Contact us today for more information.

Ontarians Still Reeling from 2016 Changes to Auto Insurance System

In June 2016, the then-Liberal Government of Ontario introduced major changes to the province’s auto insurance system. Presented as an effort to reduce premiums, the changes significantly reduced available accident benefits and altered the definition of catastrophic impairment, making it more difficult for car accident lawyers to secure fair compensation for their clients. As a recent Global News story illustrates, the now-three-year-old changes continue to have devastating impacts on accident victims.

The Global report focuses on 32-year-old Ben Schenk, who incurred a traumatic brain injury after a crash on Ontario Highway 400 this May. As of July 5, Schenk’s family was waiting to learn whether their insurance company would classify his injuries as “catastrophic.” The decision will have a profound effect on the family’s ability to sustain itself. If his injuries are deemed catastrophic, Schenk will have access to up to $1-million in combined medical, rehabilitation, and attendant care benefits. If they are deemed non-catastrophic, he will have access to just $65,000 in benefits, not nearly enough to cover his rehabilitation.

Schenk’s situation is not unusual for Ontario car accident victims post-June 2016. Patients often wait more than a year to learn their injury designation, a period during which they are in limbo.

“The patient, the client, is in no man’s land until their injury manifests over a six-month period, if not a year, before we can give them any certainty of whether or not they can get the designation,” one lawyer told Global News. “And then when our assessors conclude that they believe they meet the test, then the insurance company notoriously has their own assessors re-evaluate the matters, which causes further delay. It takes typically a year and a half before they get the designation where before June 1, 2016, it would take a matter of weeks.”

Even when catastrophic impairment benefits are awarded, the coverage falls far short of pre-2016 levels. Prior to the Liberal Government’s changes, catastrophically injured accident victims had access to $1-million in medical and rehabilitation benefits, plus $1-million in attendant care benefits. Non-catastrophically injured victims had access to up to $86,000 in benefits; today they have access to just $65,000. Many car accident lawyers advise purchasing additional insurance to cover the gap.

“Regular car insurance is not enough to cover your needs if you’re seriously injured,” the lawyer added. “And it should be. It should be designed to provide the bare minimum of what you need.”

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automobile accident in Ontario, contact Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help. We can provide guidance and representation as you pursue benefits or initiate a personal injury claim.

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Ontario Aims to Restore $2M Accident Benefits Limit

Personal injury lawyers across Ontario cried foul in 2016 when accident benefits available to catastrophically injured patients were slashed from $2-million to $1-million. The latest provincial budget, released April 11, pledges a “return to the default benefit limit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in an accident.” Stakeholders have embraced the announcement, but maintain concerns regarding accident victims’ future wellbeing.

“I think the $2 million restoration would be applauded by most people who practice in personal injury law,” Federation of Ontario Law Associations chairman Mike Winward told Law Times. “Just about anybody who has had a catastrophic case since the limit went down would tell you it’s not sufficient. The $2 million impacts, in the most positive way, the people who have the most serious injuries in car accidents. It impacts them tremendously. The impact to the lawyers is, it certainly allows us to serve our clients better because we have far more funding to get the services and goods that they need.”

For individuals with serious, life-changing brain or spinal cord injuries, the $1-million accident benefits limit that has prevailed since June 2016 often proved woefully insufficient. When an injury victim requires home renovations, attendant care, prolonged medical therapy, and other services, $1-million can be exhausted quickly.

However, personal injury lawyers will have to learn more about the Progressive Conservative government’s policies before fully celebrating the new budget. For example, will the province restore the pre-2016 definition of a catastrophic injury, which was dramatically narrowed under the previous government? And will the $2-million in benefits once again be delivered in separate, $1-million parcels?

The provincial budget also announced a review of contingency fees, stating that the government will “work with the Law Society of Ontario to make contingency fee agreements more transparent for injured claimants who choose to hire a lawyer.”

Increased transparency is in every client and personal injury lawyer’s best interest; however, contingency fees are crucial to ensuring access to justice for Ontarians, and law firms will want assurance that they can continue to offer these agreements.

If you or a member of your family has been catastrophically injured in an accident, the Ontario Government’s recent budget should be met with relief. The restoration of the $2-million default benefits limit could mean the difference between a full, successful recovery and one which is stunted by insufficient funding.

For more information about how Will Davidson LLP can help, contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers will help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you pursue compensation.

Licence Appeal Tribunal mired in controversy

Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), the body in charge of resolving accident benefits disputes between injury victims and insurance companies, was consumed by controversy last month when a top-ranking official was revealed to have meddled in an insurance claim. The event seized the attention of other provincial adjudicating bodies and prompted concern from Ontario personal injury lawyers.

The Case

In 2012, Mary Shuttleworth suffered a traumatic brain injury and tissue damage in a two-car collision near Dundalk, Ontario. Her injuries left her with persistent nausea, vertigo, and stress. She is unable to work.

Despite her impairment, her insurance company, Peel Mutual, informed her that her injuries were not considered “catastrophic,” a designation that would have entitled her to up to $2-million in benefits. Her “non-catastrophic” injuries made her eligible to receive less than $90,000.

Shuttleworth appealed the insurer’s decision to the Licence Appeal Tribunal. It was the first dispute relating to catastrophic injury designation that the newly formed body was asked to resolve.

The LAT adjudicator for the case, Susan Sapin, eventually sided with the insurer and denied Shuttleworth’s claim for additional benefits.

The Controversy

In the months after Shuttleworth’s claim was denied, her legal team team received an anonymous letter accusing Linda Lamoureaux, head of the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunal, of interfering with Sapin’s decision.

“I have heard from reliable source that Sapin’s initial decision was that this was a catastrophic impairment. Linda Lamoureaux changed the decision to make the applicant not catastrophically impaired,” the letter read, per the CBC. “Thought you should know that the decision was not made by an independent decision maker who heard the evidence.”

Shuttleworth’s team filed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act application for documents that would back up the letter’s allegations. The request produced an email chain showing that Lamoureaux’s unsolicited review of Sapin’s decision led to the ruling being changed.

Ruling Overturned

After review by a three-judge Divisional Court panel, the LAT’s ruling on Shuttleworth’s claim was overturned.

“Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done,” wrote Justice Julie Thorburn. “An informed, cautious observer would have a reasonable basis to believe that the decision did not reflect the independent decision of the adjudicator.”

Fallout

While Justice Thorburn stressed that the court found no evidence of “any actual impropriety having occurred,” the episode has shaken the trust of Ontario personal injury lawyers and their clients in the fairness of the system. Many injury victims already believe that the system is stacked against them, and this event will only worsen the relationship.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact the Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to learn how we can help.

 

Image credit: Ilya Plekhanov/Wikimedia Commons

Superior Court case examines the word “spouse” in accident benefits claims

A recently-resolved priority dispute between two auto insurance providers has delivered clarity on the meaning of the term “spouse” in accident benefits claims.

The dispute stemmed from a February 2014 collision involving Helen Halliday and another driver in a parking lot. Helen was driving a vehicle owned by her boyfriend, David Zorony, who was insured by Royal & Sun Alliance. The other driver involved was insured by Desjardins Insurance Group member Certas Direct Insurance Company. The dispute was based solely on which company should provide statutory accident benefits to Ms. Halliday; counsel for the parties were in agreement on costs.

Original Decision

An arbitrator reviewed the case and found that Halliday was owed accident benefits by Royal & Sun as she was the “spouse of the named insured,” which falls within the definition of an “insured person” under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule. At the time of the accident, Halliday and Zorony had been living together for roughly one year, though they had been romantically involved since 2008.

The arbitrator’s decision was based more on the Family Law Act’s interpretation of the term “spouse” than on that of the Insurance Act, which clearly stipulates that a couple must cohabit for a longer period.

“The arbitrator observed the wording used to describe a “spouse” under both the Family Law Act and the Insurance Act is essentially the same,” Canadian Underwriter reported. “She went on to develop a broad, contextual interpretation of “spouse” that contradicted the literal wording in the Insurance Act, which requires that an insured party and his or her spouse “live together in a conjugal relationship” for three years.”

Appeal

Royal & Sun Alliance appealed the arbitrator’s interpretation to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where the decision was overruled.

“Unlike the Family Law Act, the Insurance Act provides automatic benefits to spouses regardless of need,” Superior Court Justice E.M. Morgan wrote in his decision. “It therefore requires a context-specific approach of its own.”

Certas Direct Insurance Company was thus ordered to pay accident benefits to Ms. Halliday.

Though Royal & Sun Alliance v. Desjardins/Certas doesn’t directly deal with an accident benefits dispute between an injury victim and insurer, the clarification provided on the definition of the term “spouse” in the Insurance Act may be useful to personal injury lawyers in the future.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle collision or is involved in an accident benefits dispute with an insurer, contact Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.

 

Can insurance brokers help drivers cope with Ontario’s reduced accident benefits coverage?

For years, the Government of Ontario has promised to lower auto insurance rates, a goal that consumers – and car accident lawyersbroadly supported. In September 2010, the province introduced sweeping changes to the auto insurance system that significantly reduced basic coverage. According to a Toronto Star article from August of that year, the insurance industry insisted that “the changes are needed to root fraud and waste out of the system, and that, if successful, premiums will eventually come down.”

In 2013, following the failure of that scheme, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a plan to reduce premiums by an average of 15 per cent by August 2015, a “stretch goal” that was never accomplished. Last summer, the government again slashed basic accident benefits coverage in the name of insurance affordability. We discussed those changes – and how car accident lawyers in Ontario reacted to them – on the WillDavidson.ca blog.

Today, despite drastic benefits cuts and a modest premium reduction from 2013 levels, Ontario maintains the highest average insurance rates in Canada. To make matters worse, a large number of drivers don’t understand the risks posed by the province’s shifting insurance regulations.

According to a recent study, almost a quarter of Ontario drivers remain unaware of the changes that came about in 2010, and the study’s authors believe insurance brokers are ideally suited to educate the public.

“Insurance brokers need to make drivers more aware that optional coverage is available and that it’s relatively inexpensive,” Kitchener lawyer Robert Deutschmann told Insurance Business Canada. “It’s like a public service that the brokers need to be on top of.”

Deutschmann is referring to the fact that though mandatory accident benefits have been cut under recent provincial regulations, affordable additional insurance is available that would largely replace the lost benefits. Though car accident lawyers can help injury victims access compensation, insurance brokers are better positioned to encourage preventative coverage.

“Based on our survey findings, at least 70% of drivers have not had a conversation with their insurance provider about the additional coverage options available to them,” Deutschmann said.

Serious injuries can have life-changing impacts – if you or a member of your family has suffered an injury in an automobile accident, consider contacting the experienced car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to set up a consultation. Our knowledgeable team can help you better understand your legal position and advise you on your best path to recovery and compensation.

 

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Ontario’s redefinition of catastrophic impairment puts injury victims at risk

Last June, the Government of Ontario enacted widely-publicized changes to its Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) which dictates how benefits are distributed to motor vehicle accident victims. Motor vehicle accident lawyers and advocates for injury victims were particularly disturbed by harsh cuts to available benefits, and for good reason: catastrophically injured individuals had access to a combined $2-million in medical, rehabilitative, and attendant-care benefits prior to the changes, and just $1-million after.

Slashed benefits were not the end of injury victims’ troubles, however. The Government also redefined “catastrophic” injuries, which has had significant negative impacts on some victims’ lives.

What are catastrophic injuries?

Determining whether a person is “catastrophically” injured depends on a number of criteria, including what part of the victim’s body is affected. Brain and spinal injuries are the most common causes of catastrophic impairment, though afflictions like blindness and chronic pain may also qualify.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), which regulates the province’s auto insurance industry, defines a variety of impairments as catastrophic, including paraplegia and quadriplegia; other injuries that permanently prevent a person from walking or using both arms; total blindness or vision loss in both eyes; and extreme impairment from mental or behavioural disorders.

In general, catastrophic impairment implies that an injury victim’s life has been severely – and often permanently – affected and that their ability to function in daily life has declined. This overarching sentiment holds true following the Government’s 2016 changes, but changes in methodology have impacted accident victims’ ability to access compensation. In particular, the decision to abandon the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) in favour of imaging technology has drawn the ire of motor vehicle accident lawyers and their clients.

How redefining catastrophic impairment harms victims

An October 2016 report from the CBC illustrates why motor vehicle accident lawyers continue to be distressed by the province’s changes.

“Adam Bari, 34, was mistakenly pronounced dead by police when his motorcycle was T-boned on a rural road in Delhi, southwest of Hamilton, on June 1,” the report reads. “Investigators concluded he was not at fault in the crash.”

Bari suffered major injuries, including brain trauma. He scored a three on the GSC upon arrival in hospital, and an eight later on. Prior to June 1, any score under nine automatically qualified the victim as catastrophically impaired.

Because Bari’s injury occurred on June 1, however, this definition did not apply, and he was deemed not to have suffered catastrophic impairment. As a result, he and his family were able to collect just $86,000 in accident benefits. Had the crash occurred a day earlier, he would have been eligible for benefits of up to $2-million.

The Ontario Government instituted its changes to the SABS in an attempt to reduce auto insurance rates. Unfortunately, the move has done more to disadvantage injury victims – particularly those suffering from catastrophic impairment.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a serious automobile accident, contact the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our dedicated, experienced team can help you access compensation.

The top five personal injury settlements in Canadian history

Initiating a personal injury lawsuit may seem like a money grab, but in most cases the injured party has had his or her life severely altered from a legitimate accident, and financial compensation is vital to their recovery. An experienced, local Oakville personal injury lawyer can help injury victims access rehabilitation services and regain a measure of control over their lives.

Will Davidson LLP stands by the principle that an individual is entitled to full compensation for the actual cost of the care that he/she needs for the rest of his/her life. When faced with the aftermath of a tragic accident, an Oakville personal injury lawyer can be invaluable. While court costs will exist regardless of your case’s outcome, your lawyer’s fees will be paid in the form of a percentage of the compensation you receive from your winning case. This payment structure incentivizes lawyers to win big on your behalf.

When a person suffers a serious personal injury, their cost of living can grow exponentially. As such, we have compiled a list of the largest personal injury settlements in Ontario to illustrate the range of compensation possible in this province. These results prove the potential benefits of initiating a personal injury claim.

1. Marcoccia v. Gill, Purba Furniture Ltd. and Ford Credit Canada Ltd.

Decision: Robert Marcoccia awarded $16.9 million by jury in 2009

In June 2000, 20-year-old Robert Marcoccia was driving his Honda Civic when an oncoming furniture truck attempting to make a left turn collided with him at Rexdale and Humberwood boulevards in Toronto. The truck driver, Bhupinder Singh Gill, entered the intersection while the light was amber, and the left turn was conducted when the light turned red. Marcoccia sustained injuries to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain from the collision.

Marcoccia’s personal injury lawyer successfully sued the furniture truck driver, the driver’s employer, and the employer’s insurance firm. As a result, Gill, Purba Furniture, and Ford Credit Canada Ltd. were found liable by a jury, and ordered to pay Marcoccia a total of $16.9 million in damages. This is the highest personal-injury award ever won in a Canadian court.

2. Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments

Decision: Harvinder Sandhu awarded $14.2 million by a jury in 2008

On June 5, 1997, two-year-old Harvinder Sandhu endured a five-storey fall through a damaged window at his aunt and uncle’s apartment in Wellington Place Apartments on Martin Grove Road in Toronto. The screen of the window the toddler fell from had been in need of repair, a repair the landlord had neglected to make, despite having been made aware of the problem some time before. As a result of falling five stories directly onto concrete, Sandhu suffered severe injuries, which included multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe brain injury.

The Sandhu family and their lawyer sued the landlord, Wellington Place Apartments, and were awarded $14.2 million for damages.

3. Gordon & Morrison v. Greig

 Decision: Derek Gordon awarded $11.37 million and Ryan Morrison $12.33 million in 2008

In September 2003, near Bradford, three young men were travelling together in a pickup truck. Ryan Morrison and Derek Gordon were passengers, and Corey Greig, who had been drinking, was the driver. While driving at high speed on City of Kawartha Lakes Road No. 4, Greig swerved to avoid an oncoming car. Subsequently, Greig lost control and the pickup rolled off the road, throwing Morrison and Gordon into a ditch.

Morrison suffered a spinal cord injury, rendering him paraplegic. Gordon sustained a brain injury so severe it left him without bladder and bowel control, and without any sense of smell, taste, hunger, temperature or sexual function.

As a result, the judge awarded Morrison and Gordon a combined total of $24 million, minus a minuscule deduction for contributory negligence, which broke down to $12.3 million for Morrison and $11.5 million for Gordon. Morrison’s awarded amount is the largest in Canada for a spinal cord injury, and Gordon’s is one of the largest awarded amounts for a brain-injured adult in Canada.

4. MacNeil v. Bryan

 Decision: Katherine-Paige MacNeil awarded $18.4 million in October 2009

On August 2, 2002, in Adjala-Tosorontio Township, northwest of Toronto, a serious motor vehicle crash occurred as a result of running a stop sign. Driving with 15-year-old Kathrine-Paige MacNeil in his grandmother’s 1989 Ford Tempo, 16-year-old Trevor Bryan went through a stop sign on a rural road, which sent the car airborne before it smashed into a ditch.

MacNeil suffered catastrophic injuries including a skull fracture which left her with multiple, permanent brain injuries. The judge awarded MacNeil $18.4 million.

5. John Doe v. City of Toronto

 Decision: John Doe awarded $4.45 million in 2001

The settlement has to do with an incident in which a lifeguard was alleged to be at fault. The City did not release details of the case as it is covered by a confidentiality agreement, but this is the largest payment the City of Toronto has had to pay out.

How Can an Oakville Personal Injury Lawyer at Will Davidson LLP Help You?

As illustrated above, compensation awarded in Canadian personal injury settlements span a large range. The amounts mentioned above are unique to their individual cases, and don’t set the bar for yours. To ensure you have representation that is right for your situation, accident victims should seek the services of an Oakville personal injury lawyer or disability lawyer. The lawyers at Will Davidson LLP are experienced professionals who can help victims and their families obtain money to help rebuild their lives after suffering a tragedy.

 

Holiday Season Brings More Car Accidents

Holiday Season Brings More Car Accidents

A study done by All State Insurance shows that in the past 20 years, most car accidents have happened on three days: December 21, 22 and 23. The study counted insurance claims for car accidents in 50 separate communities in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and New Brunswick.

 A separate Global News study showed that December 23 is the worst day for car accidents in Toronto. An interesting chart showing the average amount of car accidents each day for 2001-2011 can be found here.

 

police at car accident scene
In Toronto, pedestrians accounted for almost 2/3 of all car accident fatalities in 2013.

Data for car accidents occurring on December 23 in Toronto shows that the top locations for car accidents were Scarborough Town Centre and Dufferin Mall. If you include the rest of the week, the top locations for car accidents also include Yorkdale Mall, Sherway Gardens and Fairview Mall.

Why the spike in car accidents? Clearly there is a link between last minute holiday shopping, rushing and car accidents. Other possible reasons include more people on the roads visiting friends and family, as well as poor weather conditions typical of the winter months.

In 2013, there were 63 total car accident fatalities in Toronto. Of those car accident fatalities, 40 were pedestrians, 7 were drivers, 7 were motorcyclists, 5 were passengers and 4 were cyclists. On a positive note, only 3 car accidents were attributable to drinking and driving.

The car accident fatality rate for Toronto is 2.26 deaths per 100,000 people, which is lower than Edmonton (3.30), Winnipeg (3.12), Ottawa (3.10), Calgary (2.86), Vancouver (2.85), Hamilton (2.62) and Montreal (1.76).

A large part of our practice is representing the families of loved ones that have been killed in car accidents while walking, jogging, running or cycling. More people have died on Canada’s roadways due to car accidents in the past 50 years than the number of Canadian soldiers killed in both world wars.

If a loved one has been died in a pedestrian or bicycle car accident, it is important that you contact a specialized lawyer immediately. The laws concerning pedestrian and cyclist fatalities due to car accidents and auto insurance are quite complex. For example, the Highway Traffic Act tells us the rules of the road and how to obey those rules, however, they do not mandate for or against pedestrians crossing at uncontrolled intersections. Also, when a pedestrian is hit by a car, the law imposes a reverse onus, meaning the driver must prove that he or she was not at all negligent – at all. Every motorist has a duty to be observant of the conditions surrounding them while operating their vehicle and this duty includes keeping a lookout for pedestrians. When the driver of a car ignores safety, there is negligence.

There are also certain issues that a specialized lawyer will be able to assist you with. There may be certain financial benefits available to a person who was hit or killed in a car accident to cover death and funeral costs. There is also the availability of a wrongful death claim which would seek compensation to all eligible surviving family members entitled to financial compensation and recovery for their loss. There may also be death and funeral benefits that a family may be entitled to, as well as financial income losses to help compensate the surviving spouse or child for financial losses they suffer due to increased family responsibilities or perhaps even the loss of a dual family income. Our Oakville car accident lawyers can provide you the specialized representation you need to bring claims for pedestrian or cyclist fatalities due to car accidents. Please contact us for a free consultation.

To see an old post about car accident statistics in Toronto, please click HERE.

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Personal Injury Awards in Canada

Personal Injury

While we are used to seeing sky-high personal injury awards in the United States, Canadian courts occasionally award personal injury awards in the millions. In an article published by the CBC here, a number of large court awards were discussed.

So what kinds of claims get these high personal injury awards? Keep reading…

Justice pillar

 

Marcoccia v. Gill, Purba Furniture Ltd. and Ford Credit Canada Ltd.

$16.9 million personal injury award by jury in 2009

Robert Marcoccia, 20, collided head on with a furniture delivery truck that entered the intersection on the amber was trying to turn left on the red at Rexdale and Humberwood in Toronto.  The driver of the furniture truck, Bhupinder Singh Gill, was found 61% at fault because he failed to make his left turn safely. Mr. Marcoccia suffered personal injury to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain. This affected his behavior, social abilities, emotional regulation, ability to plan and ability to understand the consequences of his actions.  He will never be able to  He requires 24/7 care for the rest of his life due to this personal injury.

 

Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments

$14.2 million personal injury award by jury in 2008

On June 5, 1997, Harvinder Sandhu, 2, fell five stories through a damaged window at his relative’s apartment on Martin Grove Road in Toronto. He landed on concrete and suffered multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe brain personal injury. The landlord of the unit was found 90% liable, as it had not fixed a broken screen through which Harvinder fell, although it had been requested many times. Harvinder will function at the level of a 12-year-old child for the rest of his life and requires 24/7 care as a result of his personal injury.

 

Gordon & Morrison v. Greig

 $11.37 million for Derek Gordon and $12.33 million for Ryan Morrison personal injury awards by judge in 2008

In September 2003, Corey Greig was driving up to a cottage weekend with his friends Ryan Morrison and Derek Gordon.  Mr. Greig was intoxicated and while driving at a high speed, swerved to miss an oncoming car and lost control of the vehicle.  The vehicle rolled and Mr. Morrison and Mr. Gordon were thrown into the ditch. Both suffered serious personal injury: Mr. Morrison was rendered a paraplegic and Mr. Gordon sustained a catastrophic brain injury. Both require 24/7 care for the rest of their lives.

 

MacNeil v. Bryan

$18.4 million personal injury award by judge in 2009

On August 2, 2002, Katherine-Paige MacNeil, 15, was a backseated passenger in the car of 16-year-old Trevor Bryan. Mr. Bryan went through a stop sign on a rural road in Adjala-Tosorontio Township and the car ended up smashed in a ditch. Ms. MacNail suffered a skull fracture and catastrophic brain injuries.

 

MacNeil v. Bryan

$18.4 million personal injury award by judge in 2009

On August 2, 2002, Katherine-Paige MacNeil, 15, was a backseated passenger in the car of 16-year-old Trevor Bryan. Mr. Bryan went through a stop sign on a rural road in Adjala-Tosorontio Township and the car ended up smashed in a ditch. Ms. MacNail suffered a skull fracture and catastrophic brain injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, you have rights. Contact our personal injury law firm confidentially for more information.
 

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