Ontario insurance premiums have risen by unprecedented levels over the past three years leaving Ontario drivers with some of the highest provincial premiums.
A recent report published by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) and York University professor, Fred Lazar revealed that not only are we paying more for insurance, we are getting less benefits.
The report uncovered shocking annual increases allowing for huge profit for Ontario insurance companies when compared to other provinces.
Since 2017, Ontario’s regulators approved nine separate premium increases triggering the 20% rate increase.
“Over the last eight years of the previous Liberal government, (insurers) cut the benefits available in car insurance products 17 times,” said Ontario Trial Lawyers Association President, Allen Wynperle. “Drivers are not getting many benefits, but are paying higher prices,” he said.
The report calculated the profits generated on home, commercial, and auto insurance combined for each province. The total of all three came nowhere near the profits that Ontario insurance companies are making on car insurance premiums alone.
As a result, the OTLA is demanding reform to the Ontario insurance system to make it fair and affordable for all.
“If people go to their MPPs and register their dissatisfaction in large enough numbers, the government and the insurance companies will take notice,” said Wynperle. “At the end of the day (Ontario voters)
have the control in their hands to change the situations, but they have to act and express their outrage or it’s just going to continue as it has for many years.”
Tips for Getting the Best Insurance Quote
1. Safety first. Consider adding simple safety features such as snow tires. They can impact your rate.
2. Bundle your services. Some insurance companies will give a discount if you sign up for multiple policies. Get a quote for comprehensive coverage for your home, boat and motorcycle or rental insurance along with your car insurance.
3. Safety ratings matter. Cars with excellent crash test ratings and low theft scores generally get better rates.
4. Opt for a higher deductible. Higher deductibles get better rates. Consider $500 or $1,000.
5. Shop around. The market is very competitive in Ontario. Make a few calls before you commit.
Back pain, sprains, herniated disks and spinal cord injuries.
Back pain affects people from all over the world. Whether they work at a desk, travel for business, or work on construction sites, the risk of back pain is high. Injuries are common in car accidents or slip and fall injuries, and can range from strains and sprains, to herniated disks, to serious spinal cord injuries.
Back pain statistics in Canada
Approximately 80% of all Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their lives. An estimated 34 to 59% of Canadians will experience an acute or subacute pain episode. In Canada, chronic lower back pain is one of the most likely reasons for a trip to the doctor for people under the age of 60. Twenty-five per cent of the population is living with chronic back pain at any given time.
Unfortunately, many people with pain are not getting the appropriate help. They are either living with pain or they live with it until it becomes unbearable. This can result in damage that cannot be repaired or that takes a long time to recover from.
For those living with back pain as a result of a workplace injury, slips and falls or car accidents the costs are sometimes unseen. In addition to the pain and suffering, victims may also have to deal with loss of income for time taken off work, medical expenses, prescription medicine, physio therapy, transportation costs and attendant care among other things.
Often times, people are forced to apply for long-term disability in order to spend adequate time recovering and healing from pain and to pay for the associated costs.
Sadly, those suffering often find their claims denied. This makes the situation more difficult and leads them to spend longer periods of time living with back pain, without medical attention.
If you are suffering from back pain and your claim has been denied, our lawyers offer free advice on making a claim for compensation. We have experience in successfully settling back injury claims for all types of injuries and all types of clients. We are happy to offer you a free consultation to discuss your back injury compensation claim with you, answer your questions and be able to tell you where you may be entitled to back injury or spinal injury compensation. Call us today at (613) 978-9549.
These days, it seems very foreign to see someone talking on a cell phone while driving. Since 2009, Ontario drivers have been banned from using hand-held devices that create distracted driving behind the wheel.
Since then, the use of cell phones and other personal electronics has risen and driver distraction has increased with the introduction of smart watches, GPS systems and on-board information screens.
Sadly, in Ontario, deaths from collisions caused by distracted driving have doubled since 2000 with distracted driving being the number one cause of road deaths in Ontario.
Currently, if a driver is caught using a hand-held device, they can expect a $490 fine and three demerit points.
On January 1, 2019, new laws will take effect in Ontario with escalating sanctions, increased fines and license suspension. At the same time, the list of activities that count as distracted driving has also expanded.
Effective January 1, a distracted driver will receive a summons with a court date where fines for a first offence can be high as $1,000.
- First offence: 3 days suspension and $1,000 fine
- Second offence: 7 days suspension and $2,000 fine
- Three or more offences: 30 days suspension, $3,000 fine and six demerit points
New Distracted Driving laws
Under the new law, anything that causes a driver to be less focused on the road constitutes distracted driving, this includes:
- Simply holding an electronic device in your hands (hand-held communication during driving is against the law)
- Using a cellular phone to talk, text, check maps or switch playlists
- Eating (there may not be a licence suspension, but the RCMP warn you could be fined or given six demerits depending on the food)
- Reading books or documents
- Typing a destination into the GPS
As we head into the new year, we can all resolve to end distracted driving and to keep our roadways safe for all. Turn off your phone or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. If you need to, put the phone in the glove compartment or in a bag on the back seat. Consider using an app that blocks incoming calls and text while you are driving. If you must respond, or have to make a call or send a text, carefully pull over to a safe area.
If you, or a loved one, has been involved in an accident or injured due to distracted driving call us today. We understand, we care and we are here to help.
Changes to Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule and Catastrophic Injury
Automobile insurance is constantly changing . It seems that the government continues to strip away at some of the most vital services required for injured people, especially those who are severely injured and need it most, those with a catastrophic injury. The new definition will apply to all accidents in Ontario on or after June 1, 2016. The Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (“SABS”) provides accident benefits for people who are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Ontario. Regardless of whether or not they were at fault, or whether or not they were a driver, passenger or a pedestrian.
Definition of Catastrophic Injury Impairment
Many of the changes are in the area of Catastrophic Injuries. The most significant of the reductions in Accident Benefits are in the Medical and Rehabilitation and Attendant Care benefits for individuals with catastrophic and non-catastrophic injuries.
There are also new measures used to assess whether or not someone is deemed “catastrophic”.
1- Paraplegia or Tetraplegia
The two scales or measures that are the primary source for the catastrophic determination for spinal cord injuries are the The ASIA -International Standards for Neurological Classification for Spinal Cord Injury as well as the SCIM Spinal Cord Independence Measure Version III The definition of “catastrophic impairment” has been revised to reflect current medical studies.
2-Residual Neuro-Urological Impairment or Urological Impairment
3-Loss of vision of both eyes
4-Traumatic Brain Injury
When assessing whether or not a patient has sustained a catastrophic brain injury, the appropriate health professional must conduct, among other things, the following clinical interview: a Structured Interview for the Glasgow Outcome Scale.
5-Traumatic Brain Injuries for person under the age of 18 at the time of the accident
The scale is dependent upon imaging of the brain, extent of admission to a rehabilitative facility and the King’s Outcome Scale for Childhood Head Injury, as published in Crouchman, M. et al
And where 2 or more years have elapsed since the accident, or where, after 3 months, a physician is of the belief that the patient’s condition is unlikely to improve and,
6- Physical Impairment
55% or more physical impairment of the whole person pursuant to the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th Edition (1993)
7-Mental or Behavioural Impairment Combined with Physical Impairment
A mental or behavioural impairment, excluding traumatic brain injury, that, when the impairment score is combined with a physical impairment described in paragraph 6, results in 55 percent or more impairment of the whole person.
8. Mental or Behavioural Impairment
An impairment that, in accordance with the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th edition, 1993 results in a class 4 impairment (marked impairment) in three or more areas of function that precludes useful functioning or a class 5 impairment (extreme impairment) in one or more areas of function that precludes useful functioning, due to mental or behavioural disorder.
Along with these tests, a patient must also undergo a neuropsychological assessment and must meet the following criteria to obtain what is deemed “catastrophic status”. The patient must have positive MRI findings, vegetative or disability rating on the Glasgow Outcome Scale (as mentioned above) , significant decreased activities of daily living via client interview, interview of treating practitioners (mentioned above) and/or a file review of collateral medical documents.
The definition and criteria for a catastrophic injury can be confusing and complex. We have provided a quick snapshot here. Our personal injury lawyers are happy to speak with you to go over any specific questions you may have.
Many employers provide group benefits packages to their employees, including long-term disability (LTD) benefits. In addition, some employers also have an additional LTD policy to cover workplace injuries and illnesses caused at/by the workplace, called an occupational long-term disability policy. Some Ontario industries (eg. construction) are required by law to participate in a provincial workers’ compensation plan, such as WSIB. Some other companies have an occupational long-term policy in place to cover workplace illnesses and injuries that would be covered under the provincial workers’ compensation plan, if they had one. Mental and physical illnesses and injuries that are specifically related to the workplace are covered by occupational policies.
There are many differences between a group LTD policy and an occupational policy. For example, the definition of disability under an occupational policy differs from a group LTD policy. Under an occupational policy, you must be unable to work due to an illness or injury arising out of and because of your employment. Under some occupational policies, you must be unable to do any occupation within the company you work for, that you are or may be qualified for that would be at a minimum of the same pay-rate as your pre-disability income. With group LTD policies, however, you may be unable to work due to an illness or injury sustained outside of the workplace.
To be eligible for benefits under a group policy, you are required to provide evidence that you became totally disabled due to an occupational illness or injury while covered under the group policy, You must show that your disability continued past the waiting period stated in the group policy and you have sought appropriate treatment.
The payout under an occupational policy is generally a higher percentage of your monthly income than through a group policy. To be eligible for benefits under this policy, you must prove that you became totally disabled due to an occupational illness while covered under the group policy. As with a group policy, you have to show that your disability continued past the waiting period and you are seeking appropriate treatment.
Although the two types of policies have differences, they also share some similarities. Both types of policies require that you be an active employee when your disability started. You must meet specific criteria as stated in both types of policies in order to qualify for disability benefits. As well, both policies usually have two different definitions of disability one involving your ability to continue working in your own occupation and the other being your ability to work in any occupation, even if you were to be provided education or training in another occupation. With both types of policies, other types of benefits – such as Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits – can be used to reduce your LTD benefit amounts. LTD policies have a waiting period before benefits are paid out, and benefits can end for a variety of reasons, such as not following the recommended treatments, returning to work and are therefore gainfully employed, or turning 65.
If you were injured at work or developed an illness, such as anxiety or depression, and you decide to submit a claim, you will need to show when the illness/injury began or happened and how it relates to your workplace. It is best to include as much detail as possible, and attach an incident report (if there is one) and any other written evidence, doctor’s notes or reports regarding your illness or injury and treatments, prognosis and progression. The more information you provide, the better able your insurer will be able to assess what benefits you are entitled to.
Does no consent mean implied consent?
What happens if someone uses your vehicle without your consent and causes an accident or injury? Is this implied consent ?
In the recent case of Michaud-Shields v. Gough, the defendant driver had a suspended license and did not have the consent of the vehicle owner (Nancy) to drive the vehicle. The owner had made it clear to her son (Justin) that he would not be allowed to use her truck until his license was re-instated. He took the vehicle anyway, and it resulted in an uninsured automobile coverage claim.
The Highway Traffic Act, RSO 1990, c.H.8, sets out, at section,192(2):
A motor vehicle owner is liable for the losses arising out of another person’s negligent operation of his/her vehicle unless that vehicle was in the other person’s possession without the owner’s consent at the time the negligent act occurred.
Traders General, Justin’s carrier, motioned for a summary dismissal, based on their position that, although Nancy had not given Justin her verbal consent, he was driving with her implied consent, because the keys were not hidden from him in her home.
Justice de Sa, however, found that a “lack of appropriate diligence to prevent use” does not constitute implied consent for the vehicle’s use. The presence of the vehicle on the defendants’ premises, with the keys on a hook inside the door, did not represent “the right to possess the vehicle” or “an understanding that the vehicle may be driven”.
In arriving at his conclusion, Justice de Sa noted:
 Traders argues that Nancy did nothing to prevent Justin’s access or use to the vehicle, and she did not expressly forbid him to drive the vehicle while she was away. According to Traders, Nancy’s decision to leave the vehicle in the driveway with the keys on the hook essentially invited Justin to drive the vehicle. Given that Justin was left with “possession” of the vehicle, Traders maintains that Nancy should be liable for his actions while the vehicle was in his possession. According to Traders, consent should be implied in the circumstances, particularly in light of the broader policy issues in play.
 I don’t accept Traders’ proposed interpretation of consent. In my view, the suggested interpretation is far too broad. Traders’ position seems to impose liability on an owner for an accident unless steps are taken to prevent unauthorized use of the vehicle. The approach essentially requires that an owner hide their keys in order to avoid liability. However, in my view, this is hardly what is contemplated by s. 192(2) of the Highway Traffic Act. Nor does Traders’ suggested interpretation accord with the ordinary meaning of “consent”. […]
 No doubt permission to use the vehicle need not be express. If there is a general understanding that someone is allowed to use the vehicle, there need not be “express” permission to find liability in a particular case. However, to import a notion of liability on the basis of a lack of appropriate diligence to prevent use is to take the meaning of consent much too far. Indeed, if Traders’ position were accepted, arguably a thief would be found to have the consent of the owner to possess the vehicle. […]
 There must be an understanding between both the owner and the driver (either express or implied) that the driver is authorized by the owner to use the vehicle.
 In this case, on the evidence before me, there was no consent given to Justin to drive the vehicle. The evidence filed on the motion indicates the exact opposite. Both Justin and Nancy indicated that there was no consent. Traders does not contest their evidence on this point.
Justice de Sa dismissed the motion.
Lock your car doors. You may be liable to lose more than you think and it could affect your insurance claims.
What’s the worst that could happen when a car door is left unlocked in a driveway or parking lot? Most would assume that their car, or the belongings inside it, could be stolen. The consequences turned out to be much worse in a recent case involving an Ontario garage and dealership . The Supreme Court of Canada looked at the insurance claims and recently ruled that the owner of that garage owed a duty of care to a minor who was injured in one of their unlocked vehicles after it was stolen.
On a summer evening in 2006, two teenagers walked around their hometown with the intention of stealing from unlocked cars before finding themselves at Rankin’s Garage & Sales — a business that serviced and sold cars and trucks. The garage property was not secured, and the two found an unlocked Toyota Camry with keys left in the ashtray. Despite not having a driver’s license or any driving experience, one teen got behind the wheel and set off for a joyride with the plaintiff as his passenger. The vehicle crashed, and the plaintiff suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
Difference levels of responsibility in insurance claims
The victim sued and the Trial Judge determined that the garage owed a duty of care to the minor plaintiff and a jury apportioned 37% responsibility to the garage for the teen’s injuries. The primary issue on appeal was whether the Trial Judge had erred in finding that the garage owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in the circumstances, which included his participation in the theft. The Garage appealed.
The Court of Appeal decides on insurance claims
The Court of Appeal found it reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances that minors might steal an unlocked car with keys in it and injure themselves doing so. The basis for this conclusion was that Rankin’s Garage was easily accessible, there were no security measures to keep people off the property after hours, cars were left unlocked with keys in them, and there was evidence of a history of theft in the area and from the garage itself.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the garage should have had minors in mind when considering security measures, and that the care and control of many vehicles imposed a responsibility of securing them against minors. Securing vehicles by locking them and keeping keys secure was the garage’s responsibility.
We all know that there are possible dangers in leaving our vehicles unlocked, but we don’t often think beyond the obvious. A case like this should be a reminder that cars, machinery, and tools can cause harm to those who are not experienced in using them safely. Owners of these items have a responsibility to make sure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.
A business that leaves a car unlocked with the keys inside will not necessarily be responsible when someone is injured after the car is stolen, the Supreme Court has ruled. The business will only be responsible where it should have known both that the car could be stolen, and that someone could be injured due to it being driven unsafely.
Extension of presumption for entitlement for cancers in firefighters.
What do WSIB claims and cancer have in common ? Ontario has made it easier for firefighters to get the help and care they need by extending the presumption for entitlement to benefits to cervical, ovarian and penile cancers.
“Firefighters are vital to keeping our communities safe from life-threatening dangers. Every day, they risk their health and their lives to protect us and our communities. In return, we must protect them. That’s why the government has made it easier for firefighters and fire investigators to qualify for workplace safety and insurance benefits,” Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour.
By adding the three cancers to the list of cancers presumed to be related to their work, firefighters and fire investigators will have greater access to healthcare and compensation. With the expanded presumption, once a firefighter is diagnosed with cervical, ovarian or penile cancer, the claims process for WSIB claims benefits will be expedited, and firefighters will not be required to prove a causal link between these cancers and a workplace exposure.
“If a firefighter is diagnosed with cervical, ovarian or penile cancer, the worker’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ( WSIB) claims for benefits and services will be presumed to be work-related. This will give firefighters faster access to compensation and other benefits, ultimately supporting positive recovery outcomes,” Ron Kelusky, Chief Prevention Officer
Claims related to cervical, ovarian and penile cancers will be retroactive to January 1, 1960. This will apply to full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters, firefighters employed by band councils and fire investigators.
* In 2007, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) was amended to create a statutory presumption for firefighters and fire investigators to get compensation for heart injuries and certain cancers without having to prove they are work-related.
* In 2014, the Ontario government amended the Firefighter Regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to add six cancers to the list of diseases that are work-related: multiple myeloma, testicular, breast, prostate, lung and skin cancer.
* This amended regulation makes Ontario among the leaders in this area and Ontario’s firefighters among the best protected in Canada.
* There are about 450 fire departments in Ontario made up of about 11,000 full-time firefighters, 19,000 volunteer firefighters and 200 part-time firefighters
If you, or someone you love, has been injured at work or has a work-related diagnosis of disease, give us a call. We can help you make sure that you receive the benefits that you deserve.
What do product liability and garage sales have in common. Springtime brings new beginnings. When the warm weather finally comes, we are all anxious to open the doors and windows and begin the spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new.
As the seasons change and the children grow, we are anxious to get rid of the stuff we no longer use. Old toys, car seats, strollers, playpens and bicycles and helmets are the first to go.
Beware, selling your things carries a responsibility. Did you know that you are legally responsible to ensure that anything you sell, new or used, meets the current Canadian regulatory requirements?
Canada Consumer Safety and Product Liability
Since the enactment of the Canada Consumer Safety Act, if you sell a product that is banned in Canada, defective and will cause injury to the user or part of a product recall you will be responsible for anyone getting hurt who uses the product you sold them.
Before you hold a yard sale or flock to Kijiji to sell off your clutter, take a few precautions. Find out if the item you are selling has been banned in Canada. You can find that information on the Health Canada website.
Some of Canada’s banned products include:
· baby walkers
· infant self-feeding devices
· lawn darts with elongated tips
· baby bottles that contain BPA
Health Canada Consumer Product Liability Safety Product Recall page
Make sure that the products have not been recalled by checking the Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Product Recall page.
If you need to find out if a product has been recalled, you can contact the retailer or manufacturer or check for recent recalls and safety alerts on the Health Canada webpage. Double check infant products like playpens, car seats or strollers, still have the manufacturers label including model and date of manufacture on it.
Don’t sell toys with loose parts like buttons or knobs that can easily become choking hazards.
Buyer Beware. When you buy products from flea markets yard sales or even online, you should always ask questions about the item you are considering. Ask the seller where they bought it, how long they have had it or if it has ever been repaired or recalled. If you are buying infant products look for the manufacturers tags and check online for recalls on the item.
If you, or a loved one, has been injured by a product, you can make a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller of the unsafe product. Call us today for a free consultation. We will gladly answer all of your questions and concerns so that you have all of the facts about making a claim
Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act
The Ministry of Transportation has been given new safety powers to protect Canadians from vehicle defects. Early this month, the Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act was enacted to provide the Federal Transport Minister the power to order car companies to recall a vehicle to correct a defect, conduct tests and fix a new vehicle before it is sold. “Canadians may be surprised to know that prior [to the Act] only a manufacturer could issue a vehicle safety recall in Canada,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “This legislation allows the government to proactively issue safety recalls in the interest of Canadians.”
What does the Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act do ?
In addition to imposing a recall, the Act gives Transport Canada the ability to perform more in-depth vehicle inspections for safety concerns and allows more flexibility to support new technologies like self-driving cars.
The Ministry has also been given the authority to impose fines of up to $200,000 to manufacturers for any violation of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
This is welcome news for the safety of Canadian drivers, especially in light of recent wide-reaching recalls that were issued for Takata airbags and, in 2016, Volkswagen emissions systems. In those cases, the existing regulator framework created a lag in respond to these safety risks.
Will the Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act make the government more accountable?
As Canada has slipped from number two in the world for auto assembly to number 10, we have become more and more dependent on foreign vehicles coming into the country. The Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act will give the government and the Ministry of Transportation more accountability to make decision and protect the safety of Canadian drivers and their families.
According to CBC News, one in every six cars on the road has a defect that has been the subject of a recall. Under the old law, vehicle owners relied on the manufacturer of to notify them of a recall.
Where there was an accident involving a vehicle with an open recall, the manufacturers of the vehicle can be held responsible. Unfortunately, ignoring a recall notice and continuing to drive a defective car could affect your ability to hold the manufacturer responsible. You can check if your car is the subject of an open recall through the Transport Canada website. Simply type in the make, model and year of your car to see any open recalls and the reasons for them.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a car that was recalled, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call us today for a free consultation on your case. We can help you review the facts and circumstances of your accident to determine if the car maker or others might be liable for causing you to be injured.