Ontario’s Fair Auto Insurance Plan aims to provide the best auto insurance plan.
We all want the best auto insurance. Ontario is taking action to make auto insurance more affordable for the province’s almost 10 million drivers.
Since 2013, in an attempt to provide the best auto insurance, the government has introduced a number of reforms that have resulted in lower auto insurance rates. These include a mandatory discount for drivers
who use winter tires, helping people resolve disputes about benefits faster and clarifying towing and storage costs after an accident. With these measures in place, the average auto insurance rates are now 6.6 per cent lower than they were in 2013, but still not the best auto insurance.
The government understands that rates are still too high for many people and in order to provide the best auto insurance, we are now moving forward with a package of significant reforms to the system.
The Fair Auto Insurance Plan is based on recommendations made by David Marshall, Ontario’s advisor on auto insurance. In a report released in April 2017, he urged transformative changes aimed at improving the care received by people hurt in collisions, reducing disputes around diagnosis and treatment — and promoting innovation, competition, as well as, other steps to improve consumer protection.
Following consultations on Mr. Marshall’s proposals, Ontario is now implementing the following initiatives:
Standard Treatment Plans
Making sure people with the most common collision injuries receive the best auto insurance that is timely, appropriate, and effective treatment by developing and implementing standard treatment plans that focus on recovery, monitoring health outcomes and increasing awareness of the best treatment practices, including an increased emphasis on making sure victims receive the care they need. The first of these standard treatment plans will be developed by spring 2018. This is expected to reduce costs in the system by changing the emphasis from cash payouts.
Independent Examination Centres
Creating independent examination centres to provide assessments of serious auto collision injuries. This will help to resolve and reduce diagnosis disputes, to reduce system costs and to curb the inefficiencies stemming from those disputes. Included in this plan will be the development of standards for assessors to ensure that the opinions of neutral assessments are respected. This will go a long way in ensuring the best auto insurance plan
Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
Establishing an integrated and dedicated office, with representatives from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of the Attorney General, that will support activities to combat auto insurance fraud in Ontario. Another great step to help ensure best auto insurance.
Risk Factor Review
Drivers pay different premiums based on a number of factors, including where they happen to live. The province has directed the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to review these factors to ensure that people in certain parts of the province are not subject to unfairly high rates. This review is expected to be completed by spring 2018.
Working with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the province will ensure that people who need the services of lawyers and paralegals are protected and understand the agreements that they are signing.
To support clients entering into contingency fee agreements, the Law Society of Upper Canada has approved the following changes that will:
- Introduce a mandatory standard contingency fee agreement
- Create a guide for the public, which contains information on consumer rights in relation to contingency fee agreements.
- Require legal professionals to publicly disclose the maximum contingency fee percentage they charge by practice area.
- Require lawyers and paralegals to report annually on their contingency fee practices.
Establishing a Strong, Independent Regulator
Modernizing the auto insurance rate approval process, reducing red tape and strengthening consumer protection through amendments to the Insurance Act will provide the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario with rule-making authority, thus enabling it to promptly and effectively respond to insurance market trends, facilitating industry innovation to benefit consumers.
The last thing you need is an accident in the US. March break is just around the corner and for those who are lucky enough to have a spring time getaway planned, this means you may be embarking on a family road trip or possibly flying to your southern destination. Whether driving in your own vehicle or picking up a rental at your destination, unfamiliar roads and a vehicle full of distractions can sometime be a hazard and vacations can be interrupted by accidents.
Dealing with collisions at home is never an easy task, but navigating the aftermath of an accident across the border can be overwhelming. Should you be involved in an accident in the US , you likely will have many questions about your insurance coverage. Fortunately, in most cases your Canadian insurance will cover you while you are driving in the United States, as long as the trip is only for a vacation and not a permanent move. Take some time to review your insurance policy before you head out and make sure that you are covered.
Rental car accident in the US
When renting a vehicle at your destination, your Canadian car insurance often covers the rental vehicle if you are involved in an accident in the US , but this coverage can vary depending on the specific car insurance policy. Some car insurance policies do not have the same range of coverage for an accident in the US that is available in Canada. Again, it is best to contact your insurance provider and confirm what coverage you have prior to renting.
At the rental counter, the agent will offer you an insurance package, should be in an accident in the US . Make sure that you take time to read the fine print. Be sure of the that you understand the type of insurance that you are purchasing. Each rental company offers different rental contracts and circumstances where coverage may be denied. Ask for help from the desk agent to explain anything that is not perfectly clear to you to avoid complications and out of pocket expenses in the event of an accident in the US.
Many credit card companies offer some form of rental car coverage. Again, it is best to fully understand what is offered by reading the benefits overview that came with the card. You can often find this online or by calling the toll-free number on the back of the card. Note that these credit cards often require that you pay for the rental car with the credit card itself. Your credit card company may actually provide other forms of travel insurance that you may have never expected; for example, insurance for the theft of personal items while on vacation outside of Canada.
In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident in the United States while driving your own car or while driving a rental car, you should be aware that are some major differences between the between the Canadian and American insurance systems, the latter in which minimums can leave drivers under insured and paying out of pocket for expenses. In this case, Canadians may be entitled to start a claim against their own insurance company for underinsured benefits (i.e. OPCF 44R coverage).
Accident outside of Canada
If you have been involved in an accident outside of Canada in your own vehicle or in a rental car, reach out to a Personal Injury Lawyer who can help you to pursue the underinsured benefits and navigate the legal system both at home and across the border.
Additional Insured coverage
What does it mean to be additional insured ? The law, like most things, can sometimes be ambiguous. Where some laws are straight forward and easily understood, others leave a great deal of room for interpretation. In the latter case, it is often left to the courts to interpret the law and set precedent. This has certainly been the case for Additional Insureds.
Additional Insured coverage occurs when one company engages in a business relationship with another company. Such relationships, while often beneficial, can sometime create the risk of lawsuits. An example of this would be a landlord hiring a contractor to shovel the snow from the walkways in the winter. Should a tenant of the building slip and fall on ice, that tenant could sue both the landlord and the contractor for damages.
As an Additional Insured, the contractor could request protection under the landlord’s general liability policy, but since the law has not been clear, these requests for defense have often been denied by insurance companies. The rationale being that there was a lack of clarity. The insurance company would say that contractor should have independent liability insurance of their own and, when cases like this came to court, the rulings on Additional Insureds have not been consistent.
A recent case, The Corporation of the City of Markham. v. Intact Insurance Company has done a lot to provide some clarity around Additional Insureds. In this slip-and-fall-case, the City of Markham and a contractor hired to keep the sidewalks clear of snow, both requested defense from the Intact Insurance Company. Intact took the position that Markham was not entitled to a defence and was not an additional insured for the purposes of this claim as it had failed to call out the contractor on the date of the incident. The Judge ruled that “The mere possibility that a claim falls within the policy triggers the duty to defend”, and that since the Plaintiff had alleged negligence on behalf of both the city and the contractor and that the city was a named additional insured, Intact could not opt out of defending the city. The judge further ruled that the city was entitled to appoint and instruct a counsel of its choice at Intact’s expense, as well as the past costs of defending the main action.
The court was very clear in the insurance company’s responsibility to provide a defense. Meaning that Intact Insurance would need to pay for separate counsel if the City of Markham did not believe that the one lawyer could effectively represent both parties.
Much of the confusion stems from a series of cases that were decided differently, in particular, the case of Atlific Hotels and Resorts Ltd. v. Aviva Insurance Company of Canada, 2009. At the time, a guest of the Deerhurst Resort slipped on an icy pathway and the Aviva insurance company refused to provide a defense to Deerhurst as an additional insured. The judge found that since there were different categories of negligence in this action and that only of the categories, snow and ice removal, fell within the coverage, the insurer only had to provide the contractor with a claim. However, the court ruled that Aviva had to provide the defence in part to Deerhurst, but it was appealed soon after because the parties felt the decision lacked clarity. The cases ended up being resolved before the appeal was heard and the clarity never came to be. Since the decision was not in line with previous decisions, there was confusion as to how to apply the law.
Although the Markahm v. Intact decision has shed some light on how insurance companies must interpret the additional insured’s clauses of their liability policies, we will have to wait for a new Ontario Court of Appeal decision to provide clearer instructions and guidance in this area of litigation law.
Ontario Court of Appeal Ruling
A Starbucks employee has landed in hot water in a lawsuit after a recent ruling of th
e Ontario Court of Appeal allowing a Brampton, Ontario teenager to proceed with her lawsuit against Starbucks, the store manager and the barista for negligence over a scalding incident that took place in 2015. In the suit, the Plaintiff alleges that the employee negligently poured hot water on her hands, causing impairment and permanent injuries.
Coffee chain lawsuits
While the latest scalding lawsuit against a coffee chain is not news, this decision is quite significant for Ontario workers and their employees. The decision makes it very clear that when someone is injured as a result of employee negligence, that employee can be held liable.
In the December 22, 208 ruling, the three-judge panel offered a ruling in the lawsuit that Starbucks and its employees, “failed to take re
asonable or any care at all to ensure that the Plaintiff would be reasonably safe while attending Starbucks,” and to “prevent injury… which they knew or ought to have known.” It stated further that Starbucks employed, “incompetent servants or agents and/or staff to ensure the safety of the Plaintiff,” and failed to “instruct properly… their employees in proper methods and procedures to be used to regulate water temperatures and handle hot beverages. “
This new ruling rejects an earlier agreement to strike the statement of claim against the barista and store manager. At that time, the lower court judge wrote, “The general rule remains that the employees are not liable for what they do within in the scope of their authority on behalf of their corporation.”
In the 2015 incident, The Plaintiff asked the barista to fill a baby bottle with warm water. According to the Plaintiff’s statement, the employee filled the bottle with scalding hot water and spilled water on her hands causing severe and permanent injuries.
It remains to be seen whether or not any judgement will be enforced against the employee herself since Starbucks is such a large corporation that was likely insured at the time of the alleged incident.
Lawsuits against coffee shops
Nonetheless, scalding suits continue to emerge; sometimes legitimate cases and sometime urban lore partly on account of the now famous 1994 case against McDonalds in New Mexico. The case, which was examined in a 2011 documentary, awarded a woman close to $3 million in damages after she spilled hot coffee on herself.
If you have been injured by the carelessness of a store employee or due to another person’s negligence, please take the time to call us to learn about your rights. We understand, we care and we are here to help.
Rowan’s Law and Concussion Injury
In a much anticipated move to prevent, detect, manage and understand concussion injury in amateur athletes, the Ontario government introduced Bill 193, Rowan’s Law . The proposed new law is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old Ottawa-area rugby player who died in 2013 after suffering several concussions.
The past few years have seen a growing awareness of concussion injuries and the deadly impact of returning to sport before these injuries are treated and a concussion injury has healed. This proposed new law will serve as a benchmark for Canada in concussion awareness, prevention, detection and management.
What is required after a concussion injury ?
The bill has a number of key elements that would require athletes, coaches, educators and parents to:
· Conduct an annual review of concussion awareness resources.
· Set out and adhere to a system to ensure that athletes suspected of having a concussion are removed from sport and establish a protocol for their safe return.
· Establish a return-to-sport procedure for athletes who have sustained a concussion, or who are suspected of having sustained a concussion.
To create further awareness, the legislation would also proclaim “Rowan’s Law Day” to be observed on the last Wednesday of September.
Study after study has proven that too many young people experience concussions while participating in organized sports and recreational activities, sometimes with tragic outcomes. This has become a public health issue and with dire consequences.
· 64 per cent of visits to hospital emergency departments among 10-18 year-olds are related to participation in sports, physical activity and recreation.
· Among children and youth (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were suspected of possible concussions.
· Football, soccer and hockey have all shown a greater than 40% increase in rates of reported head injury (relative to other injuries) between 2004 and 2014 for children and youth.
As a parent and coach, I have been trained to recognize the symptoms of head injuries, but this is not the case with all coaches, teachers, group leaders and parents.
Thankfully, the Ontario government has moved swiftly in introducing this legislation. It is an important first step in changing the way we treat sports injuries and in championing the well-being of amateur athletes.
Accident on an escalator or elevator injury …
An elevator injury or escalator injury can be devastating. Elevator or escalator injuries have transformed the lives of millions of people around the world by enhancing their mobility and independence, a convenience that cannot be overlooked. Yet, people still feel uncomfortable using them at times and worry about safety.
An elevator injury is more common than an escalator injury with 7,300 escalator and 9,800 elevator injuries requiring hospitalization in the United States each year. In most cases, injuries happen as a result of result of slips and falls. So, it’s no surprise that children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
People of all ages and abilities use elevators and escalators every day in shopping centers, apartment buildings, offices and transit stations each person using them in a different way.
When using elevators and escalators, follow these safety rules to avoid an elevator injury:
· Watch the direction of the moving step and step on and off with extra care.
· Take care if you are wearing bifocals or similar eyewear.
· Hold children firmly with one arm or hold child’s free hand.
· Hold small packages firmly in one hand, but always leave one hand available to hold the handrail.
· Do not go in the opposite direction of the escalator.
· Do not try to stop a closing door with anything including hands, feet, canes, etc. Wait for the next elevator.
· Watch your step, and enter and exit carefully.
· Hold children and pets firmly.
· Stand clear of the doors, and keep clothes and carry-ons away from the opening.
· Hold onto the handrail if one is available.
When injuries do occur, it may be difficult to prove who is liable. The manufacturers, maintenance companies and building owners will first want to prove that the elevator or escalator was used properly – handrails were used, the rider did not engage in reckless behaviour. However, accidents do happen because of faulty products, poor building design or lack of maintenance.
If someone is injured on an escalator or elevator as a result of poor design, the victim could file a liability suit against the manufacturer. When the injury can be attributed to poor building maintenance, failures in inspections or other unsafe conditions, the victim could hold the building owner responsible for failing to keep them safe under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.
A workplace injury can happen anywhere. A workplace injury can also go far beyond the industrial and construction site accidents that we hear about in the news. Workers are often injured in offices, retail stores, restaurants and many other industries. In fact, the Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada reported in 2015 that there were 281 fatalities in Ontario: that’s one about every 31 hours. Non-fatal injuries amounted to 51,570: that’s one every 10 minutes.
Employees injured on the job and their families have a lot to cope with including a wide range of expenses and losses. If you suffer a workplace injury, you or your family are entitled to benefits or compensation to recover these losses. · Loss of Earnings · Compensation for Non-Economic Loss · Loss of Retirement Income · Compensation for Future Economic Loss · Health Care Benefits · Health Care Equipment and Supplies
Most workers are able to claim benefits for their losses either through workers’ compensation or by suing their employer for damages.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is an independent agency of the Ministry of Labour in Ontario responsible for providing workers’ compensation to Ontario workers who become injured on the job
This is a “no-fault” system which means you can get workplace insurance benefits without proving that your employer was to blame for your injury or disease. Even if you think that the accident at work was your own fault, you are still entitled to benefits and services from the WSIB. Work-related injuries include those sustained while running errands off the premises or while travelling for work. It does not cover break periods or travelling / commuting back and forth to work.
To qualify for a workplace injury insurance benefits, you must meet the requirements set out in the Ontario law that governs workplace insurance. It is really important to file the claim as soon after you are injured as possible. Employees who wait too long have a harder time gaining full compensation. As always, report early, take a lot of pictures, write down the details and get the names and numbers of any witnesses.
If you are covered by the WSIA (Workplace Safety and Insurance Act) , you cannot sue your employer in court for your injuries
Suing your employer or a third party for a work place injury
If you believe that your employer was to blame for your injury or disease, and you are not covered by the WSIA, you can sue for damages. It is important you inform yourself of your options and of which category you fall into before you file for workers’ compensation.”
If your workplace was unsafe, the equipment was unsafe, or your employer was unintentionally reckless, you can sue . You could also sue a third party, for example a cleaner, visitor or contractor to your work place if they have unintentionally done something that contributed to your injury.
Injuries at work can be complicated. Whether filing a workers’ compensation claim or suing your employer, you should take the time to first consult with a lawyer. Consultations are free. Call us today.
ODSP -What you need to know..
Recent changes to the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) will have a huge impact for those who receive these benefits and are involved in personal injury cases.
As of August 1, 2017, awards for pain and suffering are fully exempt from personal injury settlements and are no longer considered as income or an asset when calculated for this purpose. This is a significant change from the previous ODSP limit of up to $100,000 and alleviates the need to seek ODSP approval on amounts greater than $100,000.
These compensation exemptions apply to:
· Awards for pain and suffering, usually ordered through a court, as a result of a loss or injury to or the death of a family member. For example, this could include an individual or their family member being compensated for facing loss or injury from a car accident or from medical malpractice.
· Awards for expenses from an injury to or death of a family member (typically in an accident).
· Awards for loss of care, guidance and companionship due to an injury to or the death of a family member.
· Awards for non-economic loss under certain sections of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Also exempt are amounts for pre-judgment interest (unless it is interest on income) and awards for medical and rehabilitation benefits under SABS and awards under the Family Law Act are also exempt.
It should be understood that these awards will not affect a person’s ODSP eligibility. This means that someone who receives a large
settlement can still stay on ODSP.
And, while ODSP will not revisit past awards, those that were not processed prior to August 1, can still take adv
antage of t
he new rules. Individuals who received a settlement award of over $100,000 in the past and have since come off ODSP, can reapply if they still qualify and their settlement will be exempt.
With this change, award recipients are free to use their money any way that they see fit. Where, previously, medical and rehabilitation funds would need to be allocated to disability related items and services, individuals can now use the money as they like as long as they adhere to the rules on spending for non-exempt assets.
The new changes do not apply to any settlement for Income Replacement Benefits, Non-Earner Benefits, and Past or Future Loss of Income. These benefits will still be used to calculate income and/or assets for ODSP purposes. It also does not apply to awards for loss of income. The individual will need to claim that amount as income.
If you have questions about ODSP rules and claims for personal injury, you can always call for a free consultation at: (613) 978-954
Settling Personal Injury Lawsuit Out of Court
If you have been injured in an accident and are considering a personal injury lawsuit you may be somewhat familiar with the process – accident, evidence, lawyers, court rooms, trial and compensation. But what about settlement? Most accident victims don’t consider settlement, yet the majority personal injury cases do not go to trial. Most are, in fact, settled out of court.
A settlement happens when both parties involved in the suit come to an agreement. The victim is offered compensation and the trial process can be avoided.
Knowing the ins and outs of the settlement process will help to decide if it is an option to consider. Either way, the decision always remains with the victim as to whether or not they will choose to settle. There are many reasons why it may be an option depending on the circumstances of case.
Trials are very time consuming. Appearing in court means time off work, travel expenses and hours of preparation. Some personal injury cases can take years to settle.
Trials are very unpredictable. Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, and assessing the circumstances, evidence and witnesses, a good lawyer can usually tell how things will go in a settlement. When the case goes to trial, the outcome is in the hands of the judge and jury.
Trials are expensive and they take a long time, which means higher fees for lawyers, expert witnesses and specialists. A settlement reduces the amount of all of these expenses.
Settlement hearings are private, whereas, a trial is open and can be very stressful. Appearing in front of strangers, answering personal questions and sharing the details of your injury can be a huge strain for some.
Some may see accepting a settlement as taking the easy way out, but depending on the circumstances, it may be the best course of action. If you are considering legal action in a personal injury case, call us for a free consultation. Our personal injury lawyers will work with you to help you get the best outcome possible and maximum compensation, whether through settlement by going to court.
Amusement parks and safety
We have all seen the horrific videos of innocent thrill seekers thrown from amusement park rides while spectators below watch in disbelief. Most recently, a young man at the Ohio State Fair fell to his death when a faulty part caused him to be ejected from the ride he was on. The disturbing video was seen across the internet causing many to question the safety of these carnival rides.
Canada and amusement park safety
How safe are Canada’s amusement park rides? Very safe according to the Technical Safety Standards Authority (TSSA). In fact, Canadian amusement park accidents are rarely the result of mechanical or operator error. Only four per cent of reported accidents in Canada can be attributed to the equipment or the operator. Most often these types of accidents are caused by the actual rider.
Riders who do not use the safety restraints, who stand up on the rides and who do not follow the instructions of the ride operator are more often the cause of the accident. According to a TSSA safety report, amusement ride injury occurrences have increased from 213 in 2012 to 556 in 2015, with the vast majority being minor in nature. Of the 556 injury occurrences in 2015, only 22 were reported as permanent.
Unlike the U.S., in Canada the TSSA enforces and monitors safety inspections. Last year, they reported over 2,000 inspections for rides. These inspections were carried out by certified experts. In addition, ride operators in Canada undergo mandatory training and certification. On site, operators are required to perform daily inspections of the equipment and rides they operate.
For the time being, enjoy the rides at Canada’s late summer fairs and amusement parks but follow these guidelines protect yourself from personal injury.
Follow all weight, height and age restrictions placed on individual rides. Always keep legs, arms and head inside the ride while it is in motion. Read all ride safety rules that are posted near the ride entrance.