BLOG – NEINSTEIN PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS

Blood Test Could Benefit Patients and Brain Injury Lawyers

Even though the most serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause instant, life-changing symptoms including paraplegia, quadriplegia, permanent cognitive disabilities, and death, most of the clients that brain injury lawyers encounter experience a broad spectrum of symptoms. Brain injuries are complex and mysterious afflictions that affect every victim differently. This complexity makes them challenging to diagnose and creates a range of legal obstacles for suffering plaintiffs. However, a new diagnostic tool may pave the way to more efficient care for brain injury victims.

Stat Alinity

According to Canadian Lawyer, Stat Alinity, a handheld diagnostic device produced by Abbot Point of Care Inc., was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The device ‘draws a blood sample from the patient’s arm, then tests this blood sample for molecular markers released by the brain once trauma has occurred,’ Canadian Lawyer reports.

For years, physicians and brain injury lawyers have anticipated that blood samples could be the key to efficient and effective TBI testing. Although Stat Alinity has not yet been approved in Canada, its US approval is cause for excitement.

How Will the Device Improve Treatment?

Except in extreme cases, diagnosing TBIs has traditionally been a slow and unprecise process. Most tests require patients to answer questions and self-report symptoms. An efficient, cut-and-dry diagnostic tool would allow doctors to quickly triage and begin treatment on brain injury patients. It would also allow doctors to determine which patients require follow-up testing (CT scans, etc.), and which suffered minor, almost imperceptible brain damage.

In other words, prompt TBI diagnoses can help doctors make life-saving decisions about their patients’ treatments.

How Will the Device Help Brain Injury Lawyers?

Many of the clients that brain injury lawyers represent suffer from what are known as ‘invisible injures,’ such as chronic pain, sleep disorders, trouble with impulse control, and emotional volatility. These and similar symptoms can profoundly disrupt a person’s ability to enjoy life, even if they don’t have obvious physical impacts. Yet it can be difficult for a lawyer to convince a judge or jury of their gravity – people associate serious injuries with paralysis and lost limbs, not sleep disorders. A reliable TBI diagnosis could help persuade a court that a plaintiff’s injuries, even if unseen, are real.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a member of your family has experienced a traumatic brain injury, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of brain injury lawyers will explain your legal options and provide the support you need on your road to recovery.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Should COVID-19 Long-Haulers Receive Long-Term Disability Benefits?

In the span of a year, COVID-19 went from a dangerous but little-known infection spreading rapidly in central China to the century’s biggest news story. But despite its infamy, there is still plenty about COVID-19 that neither the general public nor the medical establishment understands. “Long COVID,” for example, remains difficult to define, diagnose, or treat, yet it is a significant medical issue affecting patients across the country. Recently, it has also become central to insurance disputes involving long-term disability lawyers.

What is “Long COVID”? 

The effects of COVID-19 tend to last anywhere between a week and a month in most patients. However, a small number of COVID ‘long-haulers’ experience severe symptoms for much longer. “Long COVID” is the term used to describe these lingering, serious symptoms.

What are Long-Term Disability Benefits? 

Long-term disability insurance provides benefits to policy holders who are unable to return to their jobs after becoming disabled. These benefits generally begin after the policy holder has exhausted their short-term disability insurance benefits, sick leave benefits, and EI benefits.

Should Insurance Companies Provide Benefits to COVID Long-Haulers?

This is very much in dispute. In January, CBC News Ottawa reported that Chantal Renaud of Clarence-Rockland, Ontario, was launching a long-term disability claim against her employer’s insurance provider. Renaud, who originally contracted COVID-19 last March, has been suffering from “Long COVID” since June. Her symptoms include ‘debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat,’ according to the CBC.

After several weeks in bed during the summer, she attempted to return to work in the fall. When she did, her symptoms returned; she has been unable to work since November. She has already used the sick leave benefits she is eligible for, and her short-term disability benefits will soon run out. If she is unable to secure long-term benefits, she may risk losing her home.

“I’m feeling very hopeless and anxious,” Renaud told the CBC. “It can not only destroy your life, but you can also start losing everything you worked for.”

How Can Long-Term Disability Lawyers Help? 

Most Canadians aren’t equipped to take on large insurance companies when their claims are denied. Long-term disability lawyers have the experience and expertise to ensure your case is heard and your interests are represented.

Renaud isn’t alone in seeking long-term benefits for her “Long COVID” symptoms, according to the lawyer working on her case.

“There needs to be some attention here, because this is having real effects on people – to the point they’re losing their homes,” he told the CBC. “Because they’re not able to work, and they’re stuck trying to prove a medical condition that’s really in its infancy. My concern with long-haulers is that they are really at risk of falling through the cracks. These people will be left in the dust.”

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

If you are unable to work due to lingering COVID-19 symptoms or any other catastrophic injury or illness, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help. Our experienced team of long-term disability lawyers will review your case and provide the guidance you need throughout the legal process.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Slip and Fall Changes Coming to Ontario

Ontarians who slip and fall on icy or snowy stairs and walkways will soon have less time to file an insurance or personal injury claim than they have had in the past. Bill 118, an Act to amend the province’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, was recently passed by lawmakers and will soon be implemented. The upcoming changes have been criticized by slip and fall lawyers in Toronto and elsewhere.

What Are the Changes?

In the past, when a person was injured in a slip and fall accident, they had up to two years to decide whether to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the ‘occupier’ of the property where the accident occurred. Under the new rules, they will have just 60 days to make that same decision. They will also have to submit formal written notice to the occupier.

Here’s how CTV News explained the new rules:

“For a slip and fall on private property that is due to ice and snow, you must serve the owner/occupier with written notice of the fall, the time, the date, and the precise location with 60 days of the incident by personal service or by registered mail.”

The time limit for falls on municipal property is even more restrictive. Again, from CTV:

“For a slip and fall on municipal property, you must provide the city with written notice of the fall, the time, the date, and the location within 10 days of the incident by service on the City Clerk or by registered mail.”

The one circumstance in which the two-year rule still applies is if a person dies in the accident.

What Has Been the Reaction? 

Slip and fall lawyers are, unsurprisingly, not thrilled with the change. They fear that 60 days is not necessarily enough time for the victim of a serious injury to weigh their options, determine who is the legal occupier of the property, and craft and deliver an official notice of intent. The result could be seriously injured accident victims missing out on much-needed compensation.

“This could lead to the barring of a number of legitimate claims,” one personal injury lawyer told CTV News Toronto in a separate article. They added that “being able to identify the appropriate parties that need to be put on notice within 60 days is not always possible.”

Snow plow operators, on the other hand, are happy. Slip and fall claims can drastically increase their insurance premiums, and the stricter time limit is almost certain to reduce the number of claims that are submitted in the province.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know has been involved in a slip and fall accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Our slip and fall lawyers will review your case and provide the guidance and support you need during this difficult time.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Ontario Grapples With Spate of Snowmobile Fatalities

In what has sadly become an annual trend, the first month of winter in Ontario brought with it a rash of snowmobiling fatalities in 2021, despite the fact that cold, snowy weather has been elusive in the province’s south. On January 18, in response to three snowmobile fatalities in two recent accidents on Georgian Bay, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) issued an urgent safety warning.

“These latest incidents are a tragic reminder of the serious risks associated with snowmobiling on frozen waterways,” said Chief Supt. Rohan Thompson, provincial commander of the Highway Safety Division, in a release. “Approximately 40 per cent of OPP-investigated fatal snowmobile incidents in the last 10 years have occurred on lakes and rivers.”

Over the next week, two additional snowmobilers were killed in separate accidents in Eastern Ontario. In one, a 44-year-old rider was killed in a collision with a vehicle in Ingleside. In the other, a 24-year-old was killed in a single-vehicle accident near Bancroft. Those accidents bring the total number of snowmobiling deaths in the province this year to at least eight.

As Ontario snowmobile accident lawyers know, and as the OPP’s release makes clear, frozen surfaces are far from the only cause of serious snowmobile accidents in the province.

“Excessive speed, driving too fast for the conditions and alcohol (and) drugs are other top contributing factors in snowmobile deaths,” Thompson added. “Our data speaks loud and clear about the behaviours and unsafe riding conditions snowmobilers need to avoid to make it through the season safely.”

In a December article for CTV News, OPP Const. Shona Comirand said that the risk factors most commonly associated with snowmobile accidents were similar to those associated with car and truck accidents.

“People are taking risks,” she said. “Impaired driving is a factor and speed is also a factor. It’s like our big four, with motor vehicle accidents, it’s the same as snowmobiling.”

Those big four risk factors are: impaired driving; not wearing a seatbelt; aggressive driving, including speeding; and distracted driving.

With that in mind, here are some basic snowmobile safety tips to keep you out of trouble on the trails this winter. More safety information can be found in this snowmobile safety manual provided by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation:

Do’s: Get proper training through a snowmobile safety course; Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return/arrive; Keep a full gas tank; Check weather, trail, and ice conditions; Wear appropriate clothing; Regularly inspect your snowmobile for mechanical issues; Bring a first aid kit and survival kit; Stay on marked trails; Obey speed limits; Ride sober. 

Don’ts: Ride on railway tracks; Ride alone; Ride while impaired.

Exercise Caution When: Riding on frozen lakes and rivers. Doing this is always risky and should be avoided if possible. Be aware that conditions may change quickly and always wear a personal flotation device.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or a member of your family is involved in a snowmobile accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of snowmobile accident lawyers will review your claim and lay out your options for pursuing financial compensation.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Toronto Speed Cameras Lead to Fewer Tickets, Repeat Offenders

In July 2020, as part of its Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, the City of Toronto installed 50 Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) devices in strategic locations around the city. The program’s goal was to aggressively penalize speeding drivers with the aim of eventually changing behaviours. Speeding, as all car accident lawyers know, is a factor in many accidents, including those causing serious injuries and death.

The 50 devices remained in their original locations from July 6 to October 31. In November, the City began rotating them to new locations.

Last week, the City released encouraging data from the first four and a half months of the program. Overall, the number of tickets issued at each location fell each month, as did the number of repeat offenders:

  • Between July 6 and August 5, 22,301 tickets were issued and there were 2,239 repeat offenders
  • Between August 6 and September 5, 15,175 tickets were issued and there were 1,198 repeat offenders
  • Between September 6 and October 6, 9,718 tickets were issued and there were 604 repeat offenders
  • Between October 7 and October 31, 5,174 tickets were issued and there were 251 repeat offenders
  • In November, 721 tickets were issued

 

“Once again the data proves that the City’s Automated Speed Enforcement program can positively impact driver behaviour, evident in the reduction in speeding incidents and repeat offenders where the speed cameras are placed,” said Mayor John Tory in a City of Toronto release. “I’m glad to see this downward trend in the number of tickets issued and hope this will continue to be the case at all future locations.”

It remains to be seen whether driver behaviour will revert back as the City relocates the devices to new locations. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether drivers have learned to slow down, or whether they have simply learned to avoid detection. Mayor Tory, for one, is optimistic:

“I think that it’s working,” he told CP24. “I always said that my objective would be to have these photo radar automated speed enforcement machines issuing no tickets because that would mean people weren’t speeding.”

Whether the reduced speeds are permanent or temporary, road safety advocates and car accident lawyers will be happy to hear of lower speeds on Toronto’s streets. Many have called for the permanent reduction of inner-city speed limits to 30 km/h, a benchmark at which other cities have seen drastic reductions in pedestrian fatalities.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of car accident lawyers will assess your claim and provide guidance and support as you embark on the road to recovery.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Ontario Auto Insurance Premiums Remain High Amid Pandemic

Many personal injury lawyers in Ontario believe the province’s auto insurance system unfairly benefits insurance companies at the expense of accident victims. As of February 2020, Ontario drivers paid an average of $1,528 per year in insurance premiums, the second highest amount in Canada after British Columbia, despite being one of the nation’s safest driving provinces. Between 2011 and 2015, Ontario averaged just 3.7 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people, the lowest rate in the country. For comparison, there were 13.2 traffic fatalities per 100,000 in Saskatchewan – the nation’s highest rate – 6.9 per 100,000 in Manitoba, and 4.9 per 100,000 in Quebec.

In 2016, the Government of Ontario announced sweeping changes to the province’s auto insurance system with the stated goal of reducing premiums. As personal injury lawyers know, this goal was not achieved: premiums remain high, while accident benefits have been severely curtailed. The maximum available benefits for a catastrophically injured accident victim with a standard insurance policy in 2020 are up to $1 million less than they were in 2015.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was hope among personal injury lawyers that traffic accidents would decrease amid the lockdowns, and that premiums would fall as a result. Indeed, the province’s insurance industry promised relief to consumers in the form of premium reductions and rebates.

Serious traffic accidents decreased significantly in 2020. Between March 17 and July 31, there were 56 per cent fewer accidents causing death, injury, or property damage than during the same period in 2018 and 2019. Unfortunately, the insurance industry hasn’t kept its promises in any meaningful way. The OTLA Blog reports that more than 460,000 drivers did not receive a rebate from their insurance provider. Those who did received a negligible reimbursement. Insurers are expected to have returned just 7.1 per cent of the premiums they received last year; meanwhile, the average insurance premium has increased $30, or roughly 1.8 per cent.

“So we have a 56% drop in collisions… but only a 7% temporary credit on premiums,” the OTLA Blog post reads. “And, overall, premiums are actually going up this year by 1.8%. How is this fair?”

For more than 50 years, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers has helped hold insurance companies accountable for their actions by representing seriously injured accident victims in insurance disputes. If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident and believe you are entitled to more money than your insurer is willing to provide, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Can Party Hosts be Sued for the Spread of COVID-19?

Forty-eight per cent of Canadians surveyed in a Leger/Association for Canadian Studies poll visited with people outside their households this holiday season, despite pleas from regional health officials. COVID-19 cases are expected to increase as a result, but legal risks may also apply, according to several personal injury lawyers interviewed by CTV News.

During an ordinary holiday season, personal injury lawyers are concerned with a variety of seasonal risks: slip and falls, impaired driving, social host liability, decorations-related injuries, etc. The accelerating coronavirus pandemic opened the door to a new possibility: that hosts could be liable for the virus’s spread.

“The risk if they sue you is that your home insurance many not actually cover a claim like that,” one personal injury lawyer told Your Morning. “If you are doing something that is outside of the law or outside of the public health regulations or if you have an exclusion for communicable diseases, there is a risk that if you are sued, your own insurance policy will not cover you.”

In other words, party hosts this holiday season could be responsible for paying damages and legal costs out of pocket. Combined, these expenses are likely to be even higher than the fines implemented by municipalities to discourage gatherings.

However, suing a party host for the spread of COVID-19 could be challenging. The main barrier, according to one of the personal injury lawyers CTV spoke with, would be proving that the host was aware of the risk.

“The biggest issue is identifying did the host know,” the lawyer said. “So if the host didn’t know that anybody was sick or had symptoms, it’d be a much tougher case. It all comes down to knowledge but generally in our law we don’t sue for contagious diseases.”

However, another lawyer drew parallels between a host who knowingly allowed the spread of COVID-19 and a host who allowed their party guests to drink and drive.

“If an individual is intoxicated by way of alcohol or drugs and, as a result, they injure themselves or others, the social host can be held liable for those injuries sustained if it was found that the intoxication occurred while a guest of the social host,” the lawyer explained.

To our knowledge, there have been no incidents of COVID-19 victims suing party hosts for allowing the virus’s spread. But as case numbers rise in the weeks following the holidays, that might quickly change.

If you or a member of your family suffered an injury this holiday season, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our experienced legal team.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Can Canadians Limit Slip and Fall Injuries This Winter?

Cabin fever, the feeling of listlessness and irritability that comes with winter isolation, is a familiar phenomenon to most Canadians. This coming winter, with communal spaces likes gyms, community centres, and churches closed due to the pandemic, levels of cabin fever could reach an all-time high. For many, there will be only one cure: bundle up and get outside.

Slip and fall lawyers in Ontario and elsewhere are already concerned that an increase in winter activities could lead to a spike in personal injury claims. From Winnipeg to Toronto, safety activists are calling on community stakeholders to ramp up snow and ice removal efforts.

Every winter in Ontario, hundreds of people are seriously injured in slip and fall accidents. For some of the province’s more vulnerable citizens, snow- and ice-covered sidewalks make leaving the house impossible.

“For many of us and many of our centres, the ability to get outside and enjoy relatively OK fresh air right now is very, very important for our own mental health and our physical health,” said Connie Newman, executive director of the Manitoba Association of Senior Centres, to CBC News Manitoba. “I love to walk in my neighbourhood, and yet with our icy conditions, it makes it almost impossible because of fear of falling.”

Falling on an icy sidewalk usually causes nothing more than a bruised ego. However, people of all ages can suffer catastrophic injuries from such an accident, and older Canadians are particularly susceptible. Without being able to visit friends and family this winter, outdoor excursions may be seniors’ only avenue to staying active and breaking the monotony. As such, it will be critical for everyone in the community – local governments, business owners, and private citizens alike – to be proactive about clearing ice and snow.

“Right now, trails and getting outside is really the only recreational opportunity that is available,” said Winnipeg Trails Association executive director Anders Swanson, also to CBC Manitoba. “I think it’s taken on an importance that even we couldn’t have conjured before this. People are going to need to get outside. More than ever, we need to look at … the ways we maintain our existing pathway networks to make sure that everybody has access.”

In large cities like Toronto, where Neinstein’s slip and fall lawyers are headquartered, municipal snow-clearing must also apply to designated bike lanes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic in North America stretches into its first winter, Canadians are bracing themselves for a uniquely challenging start to 2021. With luck – and buy-in from municipalities – rising slip and fall accidents won’t add to the expected hardships.

If you or a member of your family have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our slip and fall lawyers will review your claim and explain your legal options.

 

Image: Shutterstock

Court Decision is Another Blow for Ontario Auto Insurance Holders

Ontario’s drivers rely on insurance to cover costs when they’ve been involved in an accident. When an injury has occurred, insured drivers expect their provider to deliver an appropriate level of accident benefits according to the province’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS). But what happens when an insurance company fails to act in their clients’ best interest?

According to some personal injury lawyers, policy owners now have fewer options to fight back against insurance providers acting in bad faith. This is due, in part, to the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Stegenga v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company, according to a recent article in Law Times.

The Stegenga case focuses on a 15-year-old girl who was seriously injured in an automotive accident. The family sought accident benefits from their insurer, Economical, but were never informed that the girl might qualify to receive catastrophic accident benefits. The family instead received standard benefits and, when those benefits ran out, the insurer refused to provide additional coverage.

The family believed that the insurer had acted in bad faith by failing to inform them of their right to be assessed for catastrophic injuries. However, they were not able to sue for bad faith due to changes made to Ontario’s Insurance Act in 2016. Those changes revoked injury victims’ right to sue insurers in court; instead, they would have to pursue claims before the Licence Appeal Tribunal.

“There’s only one catch – there is no claim for bad faith at the Licensing Appeals Tribunal,” one lawyer told Law Times. “There are provisions that are penal towards the insurance company in some circumstances that could increase the amount of money they have to pay.”

However, those provisions apply only to claims for withheld benefits. The Stegenga family was not seeking withheld benefits, but rather compensation for their insurer’s bad faith conduct. They are left without obvious legal recourse.

The 2016 changes to Ontario’s Insurance Act have impacted accident victims and the personal injury lawyers that represent since for years. Besides stripping injury victims of their right to pursue compensation for insurance companies’ bad faith actions, those changes drastically reduced the amounts of benefits available to injured drivers.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers will assess your claim, explain your legal options, and provide guidance as you embark on your road to recovery.

 

Image: Shutterstock

COVID-19 Has Changed the Face of Long Term Disability Claims in Ontario

Every Ontarian, from doctors to high school students to long term disability lawyers, has felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the event that has defined 2020 and is likely to define the next decade.

Certain members of our community have felt its impacts more acutely than others, a fact that has been reflected in trends in personal injury claims. Motor vehicle accident claims, for example, have involved increasingly severe injuries, a result of lighter traffic on major routes. Long term disability claims, which were most often linked to physical injuries before the pandemic, are now trending towards psychological impacts. Both of these effects were reported in a recent article from Law Times.

Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries are Becoming More Severe 

The increasing severity of motor vehicle accident injuries is one of the more unexpected side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. General wisdom in March and April was that widespread lockdowns would limit the number of vehicles on the road, which would result in fewer accidents.

That prediction may have come true, but what wasn’t predicted were the changes in driver behaviour. With fewer vehicles on the road, drivers are travelling faster than usual which, as every car accident lawyer knows, is a recipe for disaster; open road collisions almost always result in more serious injuries than rush hour fender benders.

Long Term Disability Claims are Changing

Long term disability lawyers help clients who have experienced life-changing injuries access compensation to fund their recoveries. Traditionally, long term disability claims have been related to catastrophic physical injuries: spinal injuries; brain injuries; massive trauma; etc.

Today, long term disability claims are increasingly linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, conditions that have been exasperated by restricted access to professional care.

“We have clients that were receiving regular treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist, whether it’s on a weekly basis, sometimes twice a week or monthly,” one lawyer told Law Times. “But those appointments were being cancelled. And when they weren’t getting the treatment, and medication, as well, wasn’t being prescribed, their mental health problems were significantly exasperated, as a result.”

Seriously injured accident victims are already among the most vulnerable people in Ontario, regardless of whether their injuries are physical, mental, or a combination of the two. Considering the profound challenges that COVID has presented – financial concerns, worries for the health of loved ones, isolation from friends and family – it’s no surprise that mental health long term disability claims are on the rise.

Contact a Long Term Disability Lawyer at Neinstein

If you or a member of your family have been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of personal injury and long term disability lawyers will assess your claim, outline your legal options, and provide a roadmap for your recovery.

 

Shutterstock

Archives

ORGANIZATIONS WE SUPPORT