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Chronic pain is not a “minor injury,” LAT chairwoman rules

Chronic pain is not a “minor injury,” LAT chairwoman rules

Chronic pain is a common but misunderstood form of injury. It often materializes in the weeks and months following a traumatic accident and can be a heavy burden during recovery. In serious cases, chronic pain can be debilitating and can dramatically damage a person’s quality of life. Despite this, it has been considered a minor injury under Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, a designation that some personal injury lawyers dispute. However, a recent ‘reconsideration decision’ on a Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) ruling is likely to change how benefits disputes related to chronic pain are handled.

What is Chronic Pain?

 Chronic pain can be broadly defined as pain lasting for a long period of time, generally more than 12 weeks. It most often appears following an injury: a car accident, a slip-and-fall, a surgical error, etc., and is often referred to as an “invisible” disability due to its difficulty to diagnose. Individuals suffering from chronic pain may not appear unwell and may not bear the hallmarks of a traumatic disability.

Nonetheless, chronic pain can hinder a person’s ability to work, to interact with friends and family, to be physically active, to engage in intimate relationships, and to generally enjoy a full, happy life. For this reason, many chronic pain patients and personal injury lawyers believe it is insufficient to label chronic pain as a “minor injury.”

The Reconsideration Decision

 In July 2018, Linda Lamoureux, executive chairwoman of Tribunals Ontario, reversed the LAT’s decision in T.S. v. Aviva General Insurance of Canada. In the case, Aviva awarded T.S. $3,500 in benefits, the maximum available according to the Schedule’s Minor Injury Guidelines, to cover medical treatment following a January 2015 accident.

T.S. used the full amount and requested more, stating that he had developed chronic pain that could not be considered a minor injury. Aviva denied the request and the LAT agreed. T.S. applied for a reconsideration, according to Law Times.

In her decision, Lamoureux wrote: “The Tribunal made significant errors when rendering its decision. The Tribunal did not adequately consider the context and purpose of the Schedule, and ultimately adopted a narrow interpretation of the relevant provision at issue. In doing so, the Tribunal failed to recognize T.S.’s chronic pain exceeds the Schedule’s definition of a ‘minor injury.’”

Lamoureux ordered Aviva to pay T.S. a further $9,863.45.

Good News for Injury Victims

 Lamoureux’s decision recognizes how chronic pain can impact a victim’s life. For personal injury lawyers representing chronic pain victims, the ruling makes it possible to secure more reasonable compensation.

“This will allow people who really need the treatment, who are experiencing chronic pain, to get more treatment that they need to help them with their recovery,” one personal injury lawyer told Law Times.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

 If you or a member of your family is suffering from chronic pain as a result of an accident, contact Neinstein’s team of experienced personal injury lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team will assess the viability of your claim and offer advice as your travel the road to recovery.

 

Image credit: Alpha Stock Images – http://alphastockimages.com/

Stay safe on your bike this spring

Stay safe on your bike this spring

The arrival of spring is the traditional start of cycling season in Ontario. For the province’s city-dwellers, this means an influx of vulnerable road users on already busy streets. Cycling is a healthy, efficient and affordable way to get around congested cities, but for all its benefits there are also risks, as every cycling accident lawyer understands. In Toronto last year, five cyclists were killed and many more injured on the city’s streets.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind before heading out on your bike this spring.

Check Your Bike

 Make sure your bike is in working order before heading out for your first ride. Perform a general check for basic issues: is your tire pressure okay? Are your spokes intact and secure? Are your brake pads and levers working? How about your chain and derailleurs? Identify issues and decide whether to address them yourself. You may be able to reload your chain or replace a flat tire, but more complex problems should be handled by a professional bike shop.

If you’re unsure whether your bike is in good condition, bring it into a shop just in case – many offer deals on spring tune ups.

Safety Equipment

 Safety equipment is important throughout the year, but perhaps never more so than in the spring. The combination of unpredictable weather, lingering winter debris, and a general lack of comfort between cyclists and motorists makes spring a tough time to be on the road.

As any cycling accident lawyer will tell you, the helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment a cyclist can own. It’s not illegal to ride without them in Ontario – not for adults, anyways – but it is highly dangerous. Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of concussions and more serious brain injuries.

In terms of preventative safety gear, visibility is key. Equip your bike with reflectors and wear bright, reflective clothing whenever possible. If you’re planning to bike in the early morning or evening, make sure your bike is equipped with powerful, eye-catching lights. Avoid biking at night at all costs.

Hit the Road

 Once your bike is tuned up and tricked out with safety equipment, it’s time to hit the road. Be cautious during your first weeks of riding. You won’t feel as comfortable on the bike in April as you do in September, so give yourself extra time to get from point A to point B.

Remember: riding in the spring can be perilous. Road are often slick with rain and snow melt. Reduce your speed around metal, wood, painted or brick surfaces, as they become slippery when wet. Try also to avoid large puddles, which can push you off balance and obscure hazards.

If You’re Injured, Call an Accident Lawyer

f you or someone you know suffers a cycling injury this spring, don’t hesitate to call Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced cycling accident lawyer. Our team will be here to guide you on your road to recovery.

 

Image credit: Hallgrimsson/Wikimedia Commons

Should lifetime driving bans be more common in Canada?

Should lifetime driving bans be more common in Canada?

Stats published by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police for Canada Road Safety Week last May show that road safety in Canada has generally improved over the past several years. As some car accident lawyers are likely aware, fatalities and serious injuries both declined between 2001 and 2016 even as the number of vehicles grew.

However, the stats also revealed several disturbing trends including the continued prevalence of dangerous and aggressive driving. According to the most recent available data, speeding contributed to 27 per cent of fatalities and 19 per cent of serious injuries on Canadian roads, more than drug or alcohol impairment.

Government bodies, safety advocacy groups, car accident lawyers and law enforcement agencies have gone to great lengths to warn the public about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, with mixed success. But how can we reduce aggressive and reckless driving?

Globe and Mail contributor Andrew Clark proposed a novel solution in a February 2019 opinion piece: lifetime driving bans for serious offenders.

“Why shouldn’t people who drive dangerously be banned from driving for life?” he mused. “We’re not cutting off a limb. We’re not sending them to prison. We’re just saying “from now on, take the bus.”

Are lifetime bans necessary? To bolster his position, Clark offers several examples of convicted dangerous drivers who will, at some point, drive again. A 19-year-old Ontarian was caught going 246 km/h in a friend’s car; his licence was suspended for seven days and the car impounded for a week. Another driver was caught going 180 km/h on Southern Ontario’s Queen Elizabeth Expressway (QEW); he was fined $4,000 and received a 12-month driving ban. In Alberta, an individual serving an 11-year manslaughter sentence for a fatal hit and run recently had his lifetime driving ban reduced to 10 years. The reasoning? According to the judges of Alberta’s Court of Appeal, a lifetime ban for a person in their 20s was not realistic and served no “compelling” purpose.

“It does not depreciate the magnitude of his offence to recognize that the appellant will be a different person in the years to come and should be encouraged to live a constructive life then,” the decision read.

Not having a driver’s licence would be a major inconvenience for many Canadians, but it should not prevent a person from living a “constructive life.” Is it more important to ensure that dangerous drivers have a comfortable commute than to protect fellow road users from their potentially lethal behaviour?

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help. Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

Recovery from a serious personal injury can be a lengthy and expensive process. That’s why personal injury lawyers exist: to help victims access compensation for the damages they have incurred to fund the medical and therapeutic services they need to enable their recovery.

Most people don’t think about serious injuries on a daily basis. Injuries, we think, are something that happens to someone else. For that reason, most people are unclear about what steps to take when an injury does occur. Who do I call for help? How do I find a personal injury lawyer?

Don’t be afraid to ask

 Your first step to finding an experienced personal injury lawyer should be to ask for referrals. Contact friends, family, or acquaintances who have used a personal injury lawyer in the past. Ask about their experiences: were they treated well? Were they kept informed throughout the process? Did they receive fair and reasonable compensation for their injuries?

Ask for the guidance of any lawyers you know or work with. Even if that lawyer doesn’t work in the personal injury field, they may be able to recommend a reputable lawyer or law firm.

If you don’t have access to lawyers or friends with legal experience, consider consulting an online legal directory. These resources are plentiful and are a good starting point for your search. Adjust the parameters to narrow your search to lawyers in your region with expertise pertaining to your needs.

Do your research

 Once you’ve compiled a list of lawyers that you believe could help, do some initial research. First, make sure the lawyers on your list have experience with your type of claim. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, check each firm’s website to ensure they take car accident cases. The same goes for boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, etc.

Look for someone with a sterling reputation – through resources like Google Reviews, it’s never been easier to find out what past clients think of a law firm’s services. Once you’ve identified a number of lawyers that work in the necessary field, type their names into Google and read some honest client reviews.

Consider financing as well. The harsh reality of the legal world is that personal injury cases take time, energy, and financial investment. Most reputable personal injury firms offer contingency fees – wherein you do not pay until your case has been successfully resolved – in order to ensure access to justice for all injury victims.

By now, you should have narrowed your list to two or three law firms. Call each one and arrange for a free, no-obligation consultation. At this meeting, a representative will review your case and provide guidance on how to move forward. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions and get a feel for the firm. Can you trust this personal injury lawyer to represent your interests in court?

How to Pick a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you access compensation. Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team. Your recovery starts here.

 

 

Neinstein has been nominated for Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Top Ten list

Neinstein has been nominated for Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Top Ten list

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers has once again been nominated for Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2019 list of Top Boutiques: Personal Injury & Arbitration Chambers! This is the fourth time we have been nominated for this prestigious recognition.

Canadian Lawyer’s biennial list recognizes law firms from across Canada who have delivered exceptional service to their clients. Over the last 45 years, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers has worked hard to establish our reputation as a leading personal injury law firm offering strong, compassionate representation to seriously injured Ontarians. We’re very proud to once again be recognized for our commitment to delivering results that help clients on their road to recovery.

We need your help to make the final list of Top Boutiques: Personal Injury & Arbitration Chambers. Voting takes less than five minutes. The deadline is Monday, February 25. Please fill out the following ballot: https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/survey/top-boutiques-personal-injury-and-arbitration-chambers-2019-22/#tab_1

Best of luck to our fellow nominees and thank you to our supportive clients and colleagues!

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Winter Driving Safety Tips

The rest of Canada tends to sneer at Toronto’s milquetoast winters, but the past month’s wild cocktail of blizzards, freezing rain and brutal cold showed that the GTA is as susceptible to messy weather as Manitoba or Newfoundland. (Okay, maybe not as susceptible, but susceptible nonetheless.) For car accident lawyers in Toronto, the spate of storms emphasized the importance of safe driving habits during the winter months. The worst weather of the season may be behind us, but it’s not too late to review winter driving tips to help you stay safe until spring.

Vehicle Preparation

 First things first: if your car doesn’t have winter tires, get them now. Winter tires are critical to ensuring your safety on slippery roads. While all-season tires lose traction below 7°C, winter tires improve handling and performance and can shorten braking distance by as much as 25 per cent. Plus, cars with winter tires may be eligible for insurance discounts!

You should also consider assembling a ‘survival kit’ for emergencies. Getting stranded on a snowy highway isn’t unheard of in Ontario; CBC News Toronto recommends keeping a kit in your trunk containing gloves, booster cables, a small shovel, windshield wiper fluid, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a snow brush, candles, a safety vest, water bottles, and non-perishable foods like energy bars.

Plan Your Trip

 In bad weather, a little planning can mean the difference between a safe trip and a serious accident. Check the weather forecast ahead of every trip. If snow or ice are on the horizon, be sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Plan a route that you’re comfortable with – if driving the 401 in a blizzard sounds intimidating, consider taking side roads; if the forecast looks particularly foul, consider staying home.

Make sure you’ve got phone numbers for emergency services and your insurance provider handy, as well.

Winter Driving Basics

After reviewing the basics of winter driving, it is clear that steady, cautious driving is your best chance for a safe commute. Take full advantage of that extra time you planned for: drive more slowly than usual, leave more space between cars, and avoid using cruise control.

Unfortunately, sometimes even the safest drivers are involved in car accidents. If you or a member of your family has been injured on an Ontario road, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers in Toronto will assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance as you embark on your legal journey.

Ontario cities struggle to reduce falls during the winter

Ontario cities struggle to reduce falls during the winter

Each winter, slip and fall lawyers in Ontario receive a surge of consultation requests related to falls on snow and ice. While most slip and fall events are unavoidable, a small number can be attributed to municipalities’ failure to maintain safe, accessible sidewalks. In Toronto, nearly 30,000 emergency department visits and 2,800 hospitalizations were linked to winter falls between 2006 and 2015; in Ottawa, the city was sued five times for falls on sidewalks last winter alone.

Inaccessible sidewalks are a life-threatening reality for the province’s growing population of senior citizens. With every fall, seniors are at increased risk of breaking bones and experiencing concussions. They are also more likely to experience complications from these injuries.

In Ottawa, the Council on Aging – an organization that engages in advocacy, education, research and planning on behalf of the city’s seniors – has launched an initiative to improve sidewalk accessibility. The program, dubbed Snow Moles, recruits seniors to document sidewalk conditions and report findings to the city. It has received praise from slip and fall lawyers and the Ottawa’s director of roads and parking services, Luc Gagné.

There are more than 2,300 kilometres of public sidewalks in Ottawa, less than half of which are considered high-priority for clearance. Understandably, the city focuses on maintaining sidewalks in tourism and employment centres including the downtown core and the ByWard Market. It also emphasizes clearing city cycling routes and sidewalks in front of emergency facilities and commercial or retail storefronts.

However, the city has not updated its removal procedure since the early 2000s. The Council on Aging believes this should be a priority.

“I think we all want to improve the walkable situation in our area,” Catherine Read, a Snow Moles volunteer, told the CBC in January. “It used to be snow, only snow, and now it’s this freeze-thaw cycle. So the city’s got to get up to date. They say that’s their reason that they can’t do anything, but they’ve got to find ways to do something.”

Gagné conceded on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program that service levels have not changed in well over a decade. He did not promise updates in the future.

“Back at amalgamation, they looked at the services that the 11 different municipalities had put together and harmonized them,” he said. “I can tell you that many of the former municipalities had very, very similar standards to what we currently have today. They really haven’t changed.”

While the work done by Ottawa’s Snow Moles is sure to improve sidewalk conditions, some slip and fall accidents are unavoidable. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a fall, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced slip and fall lawyers can explain your legal standing and provide guidance on your road to recovery.

 

Image credit: Peter Enyeart/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Are Canada’s new impaired driving laws unconstitutional?

Are Canada’s new impaired driving laws unconstitutional?

In general, Canadians understand the dangers of impaired driving and approve of tough measures to prevent it. However, criminal defence and car accident lawyers worry new federal impaired driving laws may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Is the legislation unconstitutional? And are Canadians willing to accept laws of questionable constitutionality if they reduce preventable traffic deaths?

What are the new rules?

The new legislation came into effect last December under federal Bill C-46. It authorizes Canadian police to stop cars and request breathalyzer tests without probable cause of intoxication. Refusing to comply can lead to criminal charges.

Additionally, police may request a breathalyzer test up to two hours after you have stopped driving.

Criticism and counter arguments

Critics believe Bill C-46 violates Canadians’ right to protection from arbitrary searches.

“It could be argued to be the definition of an arbitrary search,” Newfoundland defence lawyer Ellen O’Gorman told the CBC, “and that’s what we’re supposed to be secure against.”

Proponents suggest mandatory breathalyzer tests are no different than being searched at an airport or asked to hand over your licence and registration during a traffic stop.

Criminal defence lawyers also worry that law enforcement’s two-hour window to request a breathalyzer could put innocent people at risk and create a ‘reverse onus’ on defendants.

“You can imagine a situation where a husband and wife are out together. The husband drives to the bar knowing the wife will be the designated driver on the way home, and she’s not going to be consuming alcohol that night. The husband drinks alcohol and is now over the limit and has driven a vehicle within the previous two hours,” one Toronto lawyer explained to the CBC.

The Liberal government insists the two-hour window is a safeguard against risky behaviour like bolus drinking (drinking and dashing), where an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol and gets behind the wheel before it enters his bloodstream.

Arguments in favour of Bill C-46

Proponents of Bill C-46 believe the tough new stance will significantly reduce impaired driving deaths in Canada. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada believes the legislation could reduce fatalities by up to 25 per cent.

“To put it in context, that’s 200 more families who will have their loved ones around this holiday season next year,” MADD Canada CEO Andrew Currie told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning in December. “It’s probably the most significant change in legislation around impaired driving since probably the breathalyzer was brought in 1969.”

“If you look around the world, we’re way behind,” MADD Canada’s National Director of Legal Policy, Robert Solomon told CBC News Newfoundland. According to him, similar legislation has helped reduce drunk driving deaths in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden, among others.

Contact the car accident lawyers at Neinstein

If you or a member of your family have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by impaired driving, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help.

 

Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada

 

 

 

Is advanced technology the key to road safety in Ontario?

Is advanced technology the key to road safety in Ontario?

Technology, as Ontario car accident lawyers know, affects every aspect of our lives, including road safety. Smartphones and advanced in-car entertainment systems contribute to distracted driving. Automated safety features like emergency breaking and blind spot detection protect against human error.

So, will the next wave of technology improve safety on Ontario’s roads or hinder it? If a recent pilot project in Nevada is any indication, there is reason for optimism for the province’s car accident lawyers.

The project saw several public safety agencies (the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the Nevada Highway Patrol) partner with a Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup, Waycare, to reduce accidents on a stretch of highway near the Las Vegas Strip.

Waycare’s AI technology processed in-car information and various traffic data to determine road conditions, reduce congestion, and alert agencies to high-risk areas. The agencies then took preventative action based on the recommendations.

The results were positive. Collisions along the focal stretch of highway fell 17 per cent during the project, and 91 per cent of drivers travelling above 65 mph reduced their speed when preventative measures were taken.

“Groundbreaking partnerships like this enable Southern Nevada to continue to lead the way in leveraging advanced technologies to dramatically improve traffic safety and efficiency,” said RTC general manager Tina Quigley, according to the National Post.

“These latest statistics coupled with the fact that we are identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with the Waycare platform helps translate what public and private partnerships can do and that AI is working to modernize and create a better transportation system for all.”

“The results of this pilot program are a clear sign that AI and deep learning, when deployed in collaboration with traffic management and enforcement agencies, can have a dramatic impact on improving the safety of even our busiest and most at-risk freeways,” added Waycare co-founder and CEO Noam Maital.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can contribute to road safety in Ontario, but technology alone won’t prevent collisions. Government buy-in, improved driver behaviours, and significant infrastructure upgrades are all necessary to reduce road deaths in our province.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of Ontario car accident lawyers can explain your legal options and provide guidance during your recovery.

 

Image credit: Clement Bardot/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Personal injury lawyers criticize statutory deductible for general damages

Personal injury lawyers criticize statutory deductible for general damages

In the early 1990s, as part of an effort to implement no-fault insurance in Ontario, the provincial government announced a $10,000 statutory deductible on compensation for general damages incurred in motor vehicle accidents. The goal was to discourage lawsuits for minor injuries with the expectation that newly available accident benefits would make up for lost awards.

When it was introduced, many personal injury lawyers saw the deductible as an acceptable price to pay for no-fault insurance – but times have changed. A recent Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) blog post called the statutory deductible “the law that may be most frequently used to punish innocent accident victims in Ontario to the benefit of bad drivers and their insurers.”

What are General Damages?

When a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident, they have the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering. This type of compensation is referred to as general damages; in some cases, it may be the only form of compensation that the plaintiff seeks.

What is a Deductible?

From an insurance perspective, a deductible is an amount of money that policy holders must pay before the insurance provider contributes. For example: if your car incurred $1,000 worth of damage in a fender-bender and your insurance policy included a $500 deductible, the insurer would contribute just $500 toward repairs.

The statutory deductible works the same way. If you incur general damages valued at $100,000 in a motor vehicle accident, you will only receive $62,000 in compensation. Or, if your damages are calculated at less than $37,500, you risk walking away with nothing.

Please note: the statutory deductible only applies for awards of less than $126,610.07.

The Main Issue

At the heart of personal injury lawyers’ opposition to the statutory deductible is its growing imbalance with general damages awards, which have not risen in unison with the deductible, and available accident benefits, which have been significantly reduced in recent years.

“The deductible has grown considerably, while benefits are shrinking considerably, which I find very concerning,” one Ontario personal injury lawyer told Law Times in November. “While I appreciate quick access to medical benefits means better outcomes, when that amount is only $3,500 for most people, it’s not possible to get adequate treatment and set yourself on the path to recovery.”

Additionally, the Province of Ontario’s threshold test for personal injury lawsuits largely accomplishes what the statutory deductible was intended for: to limit civil action over minor injuries.

An Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been injured in an automotive accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of Toronto personal injury lawyers has been assisting seriously injured accident victims for decades, and can provide guidance and advice as you travel the road to recovery.

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