Empty seats in a civil jury box in a courthouse

Now Is The Time To Eliminate Civil Jury Trials For Most Personal Injury Cases: A Call For Change.

As I write this, Ontario is in the midst of a third wave of the Covid-19 virus – this time with more contagious variants that are infecting younger people. Ontario is working on getting vaccines into arms but this takes time and vaccines. On April 7, 2021, the Ontario Government declared a third state of emergency and a Stay-At-Home order along with strict lockdown restrictions.

What does this have to do with civil jury trials?

Over the past 14 months, NO civil jury trials have taken place. I personally had one civil jury trial cancelled due to the pandemic. Many, if not most, personal injury lawyers are in the same boat – civil jury trials being cancelled. This is not fair to our clients who have been waiting years to get their cases resolved. Over the time of the pandemic, our court administration has worked very hard to bring the court process into the 21st century and we now have the ability to conduct virtual civil trials. But. there's a catch. These virtual civil trials involve only a judge.

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A calendar and hourglass with blue sand indicating time running out.

What Is A Limitation Period And What Does It Mean For Civil Claims In Ontario?

Most people are familiar with the term "statute of limitations", but what does it mean? The concept is that after a certain period of time following an event, incident, breach of contract, medical malpractice, injury, accident or collision there is a limited period of time within which a person can bring a legal claim. Civil claims are provincial matters. In Ontario, the deadline to bring a legal action is governed by the Limitations Act, 2002. The basic limitation period in Ontario is two years. This means that a person must file a claim with the civil court within 2 years of the event.

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Broken cement illustrating the broken auto insurance system in Ontario

Auto Insurance In Ontario: A Broken System.

Two stories in the news last week highlight the broken nature of the automobile insurance system in Ontario.

The first story was about Intact Financial, the second largest provider of auto insurance in Ontario. Intact Financial reported an increase in operating income for Q4 in 2020 of 54 percent. This translates to a rise in operating income to the tune of $467 million. For the entire year of 2020, Intact reported profits of more than $1 billion – that is with a “B” as in billion.

That is a lot of money.

I have no problem with a business making money. The problem I have is how auto insurers, like Intact, treat those that are injured in car crashes and how the insurance industry cries poor to the government forcing them to slash benefits and impose limitations on those innocently injured in car collisions.

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The covid 19 pandemic has caused delays to non-essential medical procedures increasing risk to Ontario patients

The Collateral Damage of Delays for Medical Treatment Due COVID-19

We have all been dealing with COVID-19 for what feels like forever. Here in Ontario we just entered into our second state of emergency. Our frontline doctors, nurses and support staff have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to not only treat seriously ill coronavirus patients but also to continue providing care for patients affected by non-COVID-19 health conditions. The reality is that as the pandemic continues, the challenges faced by our healthcare professionals are increasing as does the potential harm to non-emergent patients caused by delayed treatment and procedures due to an overburdened healthcare system. 

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Bill 118 changes the way people can claim compensation for slips and falls on icy sidewalks like this one.

Providing Written Notice Now Required In Claims For Injury Due To Slips and Falls: Bill 118

Bill 118 Amends The Occupier's Liability Act In Ontario. 

We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is disrupting everyone’s lives. Quietly and without a lot of public discussion or debate, the Ontario Government recently passed Bill 118. The Bill is an amendment to the Occupier’s Liability Act which now prohibits a person who suffers a personal injury caused by snow or ice from making a claim against an occupier or an independent contractor employed by the occupier unless, within 60 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim is served.

Bill 118 received Royal Assent on December 8, 2020. This is the law in Ontario.

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All cars in Ontario must have auto insurance in case of collisions

Auto Insurance in Ontario: A Call For Transparency

Auto insurance in Ontario is big business. The law requires that every vehicle have auto insurance and this creates a readymade market for insurance companies. In 2017 and 2018 auto insurance companies in Ontario made pre-tax profits estimated at $2.3 billion. That is a lot of money. When an industry is making that much money from a government regulated and mandated business, there must be transparency to hold the private, multi-national insurance companies accountable.

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The Brunch Bunch lit a candle in the heart of the legal community in Belleville.

The Brunch Bunch Continues To Serve Up Full Bellies And Full Hearts

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

 This blog was going to be about a fight for human rights; for the rights of prisoners to be treated humanely; for the rights to access to justice. And next month there will be a blog about precisely those issues. But something happened on Saturday to change my direction, to focus my mind on all the small candles that need to be lit in these times of darkness.

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