Category Archives: Firm News

Dos and Don’ts: Making Sure You Don’t Lose Your Motor Vehicle Accident Claim

The motor vehicle accident is, unfortunately, an all-too-common part of driving life. However, most of assume that ‘it won’t happen to me’, which means people are generally unprepared when an accident does occur.

Seeking medical attention, and if the accident is severe, involving the police are necessary and extremely important measures to be taken following a motor vehicle accident. However, there are other considerations about which one must be aware in order to avoid the risk of losing one’s right to pursue legal action through a car accident claim, and raising one’s insurance premiums despite not being at fault.

Admitting fault

“Oh, I am so sorry”, is something that many people have learned to say as a matter of simple courtesy and respect for others. But, in the event of a car or motorcycle accident, that seemingly innocuous expression can easily be interpreted to mean: “I accept the blame. You should not admit fault in the aftermath of an accident until you have spoken to legal counsel; by admitting culpability you may undermine or even forfeit your rights to pursue a car accident claim. All drivers assume a duty to drive carefully, and before a determination of all the facts and circumstances associated with your accident has been made, you simply should not admit fault or take responsibility for the accident.

Taking responsibility will directly impact your insurance claim, insurance premiums, and the option of filing a claim to seek the compensation you are owed. Insurance and legal professionals are, by training and experience, the appropriate agents to assume responsibility for assessing the accident’s causes, and determining how fault is to be apportioned.

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Keep a Complete Record

Whether it is a visit to the doctor, the receipt from your towing company, or any other expense related to the motor vehicle accident, you must carefully record and document the financial costs you incur. If need be, you can maintain a diary of your actions, medical visits, and insurance company communications—noting the particulars of each such instance. Such details can include dates of services and appointments, transactions, salient points of any meeting or communication, and more. As part of your documentation, you should maintain a thorough record of the corresponding receipts, prescriptions, and emails to help your lawyer build a comprehensive chronology of your accident-related activities.

Being able to produce carefully compiled and thorough records that document how the accident has impacted you establishes important evidence that your lawyer can present in arguing your case. Receipts of your expenses, records of the injuries you suffered and treatments you have received, and documentation of your loss of income will all contribute to the evidence that substantiates and strengthens your claim for compensation.

Informing Your Insurer

You must inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as practicable after the accident. Doing so indicates that you responded to the incident appropriately, and will lead your insurer to begin its own investigation of the accident.

Based on the severity and circumstances of a car accident, claims adjusters at your insurance company will have to file the accident under one of 40 accident scenarios described in the Fault Determination Rules.

Make sure you arrange an appointment to meet with your lawyers as soon as possible, as an experienced car or motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to guide and support you in filing your claim.

Signing documents

Do not sign any documents offered by the other driver or anyone claiming to be his or her representative. Beware that this is often a fraudulent procedure, which is intended to trick you in to forfeiting your car accident claim, or worse, dupe you into making a confession against your interests, which could be taken to court. The police are the only authorities who will present you with a document—their report of the accident—that you will be asked legitimately to sign. You are under no obligation to sign any other documents or sheets of paper that include any information about you or the accident. The other party involved in the accident is entitled to information regarding your identity, driver’s license, and insurance coverage. But any request to sign any document or put in writing any statement about the accident is inappropriate, and you should decline to do so.

It is highly inadvisable to accept any monies that parties involved in the accident offer you. Such offers may be an attempt to cover up an illegality—for example, a driver lacking insurance coverage—and scuttle the investigation. In such an event, contact your lawyers as soon as possible to seek their advice on the best course of action.

Time limits

Many people are unaware of a very important consideration associated with motor vehicle accidents: there exists a limitation period—a time limit—that begins with the accident. Insurance companies must be contacted, collisions must be reported to the police, and personal injury options must be considered —all in a very short span of time.

  • Insurance companies must be informed of the accident as soon as possible, regardless of who is at fault. This must be done within seven days of the accident occurrence, and an insurance company may not honor a claim that is reported after that period.
  • Minor accidents—less than $2000 of damage to all vehicles—must be reported to the Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours; an advisable step, as it helps formally record the accident.
  • Even personal injury claims are time-bound. Whereas a claim can be brought within two years of the accident, a notice of claim must be sent within 120 days of the accident to an ‘at fault driver.’

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assist with all of these matters, and will do so in a strategic manner intended to optimize the compensation you will receive.

personal injury lawyer toronto

 

About Pace Law Firm

At Pace Law Firm we have seen thousands of motor vehicle accidents. Our lawyers and investigators know the ins and outs of virtually all types of accidents. We have helped clients maximize their claims, make sure that they are not blamed for accidents they did not cause, and have helped keep premiums to their pre-accident levels. Call us now to book an appointment with an experienced lawyer and start your insurance claim the right way.

Been In a Fender Bender? 5 Things to Do If You’ve Been In A Car Accident

First steps after a car accident

Most car accidents are, thankfully, minor and people usually step out of their vehicles unscathed. Unfortunately, even seemingly minor accidents can subsequently become the source of major headaches. As an experienced car accident lawyer, we know that every car accident is emotionally and physically challenging. Knowing what you should do to look after yourself and to safeguard your legal claim can prove to be immensely helpful in minimizing the stresses associated with the aftermath of your car accident.

What initially may appear to be a minor car accident can eventually have surprisingly consequences. Telling yourself that you are fine and the accident did not cause you any harm may lead you to dismiss subsequent symptoms. However, such physical problems as neck injuries, small factures, and muscle tears occur, as a result of so-called minor accidents, much more frequently than one would expect or most people recognize. In fact, the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario reports that, in 2016, there were over 35,000 car accidents in the province that resulted in instances of personal injury.

In this piece, we are talking about those ‘innocuous’ car accidents that we have seen, as a car accident lawyer, balloon into something far more insidious. To prevent those unforeseen and highly distressing developments, we present the following check-list of actions you should take, immediately following the accident, in order to minimize such unfortunate and upsetting consequences.

car accident lawyer

Stop your vehicle in a safe spot

If your vehicle is operative after the accident, pull off the road and into a safe spot. Remaining in the middle of a road or byway—particularly one with fast-moving traffic or blind curves—greatly increases the risk of another collision. If the other driver involved does not stop, do not give chase. A driver who fails to stop may be uninsured, may not have a valid driver’s license, or may have even committed a dangerous criminal act. Trying to intervene may put your safety at risk. The more prudent and appropriate option is to report the accident immediately to the police.

Regain your composure

When an accident occurs, the impact is both physical and psychological and, as a result, the immediate effect can be highly emotional and disorienting. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and compose yourself. If necessary, inform the other driver that you need a few moments and ask him or her to wait.In the immediate aftermath of an accident, one is susceptible—due to being upset and shocked by the accident—to making hasty or careless statements and/or conducting oneself in a manner that is against one’s interests. A few minutes of waiting will give you the time to prepare yourself for your conversation with the other driver. If you feel it is necessary to do so, you may choose to take the opportunity to call your car accident lawyer, who will be able to guide you gently and patiently through the process.

Check for injuries

Begin assessing whether or not you have sustained any injuries by checking for visible cuts and lacerations. Calmly and cautiously attempt to be aware of any aches, pains, or unusual physical sensations. Be particularly mindful of your neck and back, as concussion, whiplash. and spinal injuries are often not immediately apparent, but can begin to be noticeable within minutes after the accident. Only when you feel ready and comfortable in doing so, should you try to move your limbs to check for broken bones and muscular injuries.

The shock you experience after an accident can take a while to dissipate fully, and you may not become aware of pain until later. Whiplash, concussion, muscle tears, and even internal bleeding may not manifest immediately.

Taking pictures

Determining how the accident occurred and identifying the responsibilities of the parties involved in causing it are matters that insurance experts, the police, and lawyers must piece together after the event. Taking photographs of the scene, noting the prevailing weather conditions, and gathering any other evidence—such as dashcam footage—are all steps that help in documenting the circumstances associated with the accident and help explain how it occurred.

Try to take pictures of the damage the vehicles have sustained. But make sure that, in doing so, you do not put yourself in harm’s way. In addition, it is vitally important to keep receipts for the tow service, medical bills, or doctors’ prescriptions in order to document the financial costs you have incurred as a result of the accident. The simple takeaway: keep a record of everything pertaining to the accident.

Exchanging information

Drivers are required by law to exchange their names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance policy particulars, driving licenses, and license plate numbers. If possible, discreetly make sure that the particulars of the other driver’s documents are consistent.

If the other driver becomes argumentative or hostile, and refuses to share his or her details, it could be an attempt to conceal some illegal behaviour. The driver may be uninsured, driving without a valid driver’s license, may be intoxicated, or may be involved in some other criminal activity. If you suspect that the driver is attempting to conceal something illegal, maintain your distance and report the accident immediately to the police.

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Get in touch with your Personal Injury Lawyer

Get in touch with your personal injury lawyer to obtain help and guidance in filing an insurance claim that accurately reflects the circumstances and events associated with the accident, and seek advice on making legal claims that will compensate you adequately for your injuries and any property damage you have sustained.

Although the steps outlined above may seem obvious, they may seem less so if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident—with all of the attendant anxiety, stress, and shock that you may experience. You can take a print-out of this page for your information if you want. Following these steps will make sure you set the stage for a successful claim.

At Pace Law Firm, a reputed Toronto car accident lawyer, we help to ensure that your insurer accurately attributes fault for the accident, and the claims adjuster files your claim under the correct Fault Determination Rules. Call us now to understand how we can assist you in receiving the medical treatment you require and to which you are entitled, while also advocating on your behalf to maximize your compensation.

Can we count on your vote for Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s Top 10 Personal Injury Firms?

Voting is now open for Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s 2019 Top 10 Personal Injury Firms.

Voting ends on February 25th, 2019 and the Pace Law Firm is humbled to be again nominated for this recognition and honour.
We would greatly appreciate your support and endorsement in the personal injury category.

Time commitment:
This anonymous survey takes ONLY 2 MINUTES to complete

Voter eligibility:
The survey is open to all members of the community (not just lawyers)

Where to vote:
Use this link to put us in the Top 10 category.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TopBoutiquesPIAC2019

How to vote:
1) Provide your firm or organization name
2) Provide your location (nearest town/city/province)
3) Provide your year of call or years of service in your profession
4) Select minimum of 5 law firms for the vote to be counted
5) (Optional) – Add any additional comments
Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the survey.

Our most sincere appreciation for your support and confirmation of the important work we
do every day in the field of personal injury law. Helping the victims, and their loved ones,
navigate the financial and legal outcomes of their injuries is to us – PERSONAL.

Should you have any questions regarding the survey, contact Patrick Rocca, General
Manager at PRocca@pacelawfirm.com

Sincerely,
Pace Law Firm

If You Were A Juror, What Would You Say?

Who is to blame for an accident? The driver? The pedestrian? Could it be both? According to the Negligence Act [NA] the answer is, yes to both.

Contributory Negligence is the allocation of a certain percentage of blame the victim has in an accident. How much is that percent? That is up to a jury, and in Ontario they can allocate this fault anywhere from zero to 100 per cent.

As a personal injury lawyer that deals with many pedestrian and motor vehicle accident cases, I am always intrigued at how jurors feel about fault.

 

Want to try your hand at being an armchair juror? Assign a percentage of fault to each party for the scenarios below:

There are no right and wrong answers to the situations above.

Everyone can have a different opinion and lawyers never know how a jury will feel.  This is where experience and expertise come in.  A good lawyer can assess a file and help guide you through a jury process for the best possible outcome for you.

Nancy Young is a personal injury lawyer at Pace Law Firm. She can be reached at nyoung@pacelawfirm.com

For Your Convenience And Comfort

After a serious injury finding an experienced and caring lawyer to help navigate insurance claims, tort claims and medical treatments is crucial to ensuring an injured person receives the best financial and medical outcome possible for their circumstance.

Most often, finding a lawyer comes from word of mouth. Indeed client testimonials and reviews are important. There are also additional considerations:

Multiple locations: Make sure meetings don’t add additional stress. Pace Law offers services to clients across southern Ontario with seven office locations. In the event clients cannot come into our offices, our legal teams will meet clients in their homes, work, hospitals and rehab centres.

Team approach: Our clients have suffered complex injuries, and our team approach is what is needed to drive success. With over 35 years of experience, our legal teams are comprised of highly qualified professionals that include lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, former insurance adjusters and medical staff. The team works collaboratively providing advice and expertise as needed.

Experienced: Knowing when to settle and when to go to trial is important. While our goal is to come to a positive settlement through mediation, at times litigation is needed and experience in court matters.

As clients seek lawyers in a time most uncertain for them they can be certain that Pace Law will make the legal process as convenient as possible with the comfort that comes over three decades of success.

Should Cyclist Be Treated More Like Motorists? Food For Thought

According to Statistics Canada over the past two decades, commuter population in metropolitan areas increased by 35.9 per cent. During this time, the number of people using a bicycle to commute nearly doubled.

As city traffic worsens, costs increase and environmental concerns take on more importance in society; more and more commuters are seeking alternative methods to travel, with many turning to cycling as their primary method of transportation to and from work.

Since one goal of the city of Toronto is for bicycles and cars to share the road, many are thinking about the best and safest way to implement this transition. A big question that arises is that since both cars and bicycles are involved in road accidents which can lead to fatalities, should they not have to follow similar rules of engagement?

Specifically, should there be a licensing requirement for cyclists, provided only after road and personal safety rules were demonstrated? Should bikes be required to undergo safety inspections, similar to car safety standard emissions tests? Should there be laws against distracted cycling? Currently there are no laws against cycling while on the phone while listening to music with headphones. However, these behaviours are dangerous and can result in injury and accidents.

What about insurance? Finding insurance for cyclists would be the toughest part of this debate. Motorists are entitled to access accident benefits – ordinarily by way of the insurer of the subject motor vehicle or the insurer of the motorist (if insured on another vehicle). When a cyclist has an accident with a moving (or parked) vehicle, the cyclist may access the insurance policy associated with that vehicle in order to claim accident benefits, regardless of fault.

What happens, however, when no car is involved in a cycling accident and therefore no insurance is accessible? That would be the case if a cyclists simply falls or if two cyclists collide. One thought would be to have an equivalent of accident benefits tied to home owners insurance. But what if a person does not own a home? Another thought would be to compel cyclists to insure their bicycles?  That mechanism would, however, be far from ideal.

There is a huge spectrum of possibilities for answering these questions. On the far right these regulations would be mandatory with cyclists paying for the services, moving into the middle with subsidized regulations and services, and to the far left with no mandatory regulations.

There are definitely more questions than answers in this area and progress towards finding solutions can’t come fast enough.

Steven Arie Glowinsky is a personal injury lawyer who represents both cyclists and motor vehicle drivers who suffered serious injuries as a result of an accident. For more information, he can be reached at sglowinsky@pacelawfirm.com or (416) 734-0431.

Wrongful Death Claims From A Lawyer’s Perspective

When I am dealing with a wrongful death claim, what I often see is a family who is trying to cope with an irreplaceable loss. They are feeling confused, helpless and are overcome with grief and, unfortunately for many, the loss doesn’t end here.

The passing of a loved one often also leads to financial loss. There are many reasons for this. If the death is caused by an auto accident, then the  standard auto insurance policy usually covers $6,000 in funeral costs, far less than the average fee for such services. If a family member or spouse was a contributor to the household income, revenue coming in stops, making those remaining in the home struggling to make up the difference.

Then, there are loved ones so overcome by grief, they can no longer work or care for other family members. Day-to-day responsibilities that were not thought about before are now an added stress from driving kids to school, helping with homework or taking care of an elderly parent.

Picking up the pieces is hard. Finding time to heal emotionally with the added burden of financial strain, is even harder.

Often during these trying times families don’t want to seek retribution or compensation. Many feel guilty thinking they are placing a monitory value to their loved one’s life. Compensation and filing insurance claims in their view adds insult to injury as many require immense amount of proof in terms of their relationship to the victim, and  victim’s contribution to household.

It is here, in which the true value of a lawyer rests. Lawyers help navigate procedures, deal with insurance companies, and in certain cases, sue for financial damages (loss of work, grief counselling).

Wrongful death claims can support victim’s family and provide the resources needed to  grieve and move forward.

If this is a topic you or a family member is struggling with, please contact us today.

A Look Back At 2017

As we reflect back on 2017 news stories, what can we learn and which lessons can we bring into this New Year?

Canadian government reduces accident benefits

In 2016, the Ontario Government tightened the definition of what it means to be catastrophically injured when claiming Accident Benefits after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

The new legislation has not only resulted in fewer benefits being awarded to catastrophically injured people, it has also significantly reduced the limits to support that can be accessed after this life-changing situation.

Increase in auto insurance becomes essential

The average decrease in insurance premiums since August 2013 is about 8.3 per cent, or a little over halfway to the government’s goal. However, benefits for catastrophic injury victims have been cut by 50 per cent.

The solution is toincrease your auto insurance coverage for a small monthly increase to ensure greater coverage and essentials such as medical rehab, attendant care and income replacement benefits.

Some interesting add-on benefits to consider are: short-term and long-term disability plans, private insurance plans, income replacement benefits, and extended health plans.

Sharing the road with cyclists

In the past year we have seen an increase of cyclists due to expanded bike lanes. Look no further than the newly added Bloor bike lanes in Toronto with cycling on Bloor St. increasing by 49 per cent to an average of 4,925 riders per day, with roughly 25 per cent of the increased ridership representing new cyclists.

With more and more cyclists, the province will be investing $93 million by next year to improve the province’s cycling infrastructure. Will an influx of cyclists mean more accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles? We hope not and recommend a review of the safety tips here.

Legalization of Marijuana

In 2017 the Canadian government decided to push forward its decision to legalize marijuana with many Canadians in favour of this decision. However, a question that arises is if the government is ready to handle and determine impaired driving? How this testing will be done as well as a legal limit is still being determined. Will the government and enforcement agencies be ready before July 1, 2018?

Heads up! Stories to look out for in 2018

Automated Vehicles

Recently Canada’s transport minister said when it comes to self-driving cars, Canada is doing its best to try to keep up with the pace of innovation. Ensuring proper laws are in place and that streets remain safe will be developing news this year.

Phones Down, Heads Up Act

Last October, a Liberal private member’s bill was introduced which proposes a fine for using a phone while crossing the road. Where the bill will go and the debate regarding its necessity is sure to be one that we see this year.

Increase in transport truck collisions

The last few months of 2017 saw in increase of transport truck collisions, mostly due to inattentiveness. What this means for transport truck training, as well as changes in regulations to truck inspections and amount of driving time, may change in the years to come.

Dash Cams – The New Wave Of Safety Technology

Two years ago Desjardin introduced their “Adjusto,” smartphone app with the promise of decreased car insurance premiums for those who adopt safer driving habits.

The driver downloads the app onto their smartphone; then the app does the rest.  For each trip driven, the driver is presented with a ranking out of five stars – based on four criteria: speed, fast acceleration, hard braking and hard cornering. After 100 days of trips and 1000 km covered the driver is given a final score, which if deemed to be a safe driver they are eligible for substantial savings.

Similarly, the Ontario government has made it mandatory for insurance providers to offer a winter tire insurance discount for all Ontario drivers. Winter tires help keep drivers safe as they provide better traction, handling and breaking in winter conditions. The provincial government recognized the safety benefits of winter tires to both drivers and insurance providers and implemented an incentive that allows driver to save two to five per cent on auto insurance.

Since, It has been made evident that both Insurers and the Provincial Government can implement these types of incentives, what is the next step when it comes to safety incentives? The answer could be dash cams.

What is a dash cam?

video camera attached to the windshield or dashboard of a vehicle, used to record the view outside, or, with a double lens, both outside and inside the vehicle.

How would dash cams affect personal injury cases?

Using a dash cam would eliminate the he said/she said arguments that are often seen in many accidents – helping prove or disprove liability. The question of who to attribute fault would be answered without a doubt thanks to video footage. This is useful for both drivers and insurance companies. It would save drivers money in defence costs, insurance costs, lawsuits, and would reduce the amount of files that would be considered frivolous.  Video evidence would help insurance companies save money on third party liability claims and help combat insurance fraud.

The above video demonstrates just how useful dash cams can be. The car equipped with the dash cam is unmistakably T-boned by the white car while lawfully crossing the intersection on a green light.  Without the footage, the white car’s driver could have claimed that they had the green light setting up a classic liability dilemma, absent independent witnesses. However, the video effectively stopped the one side from succeeding in an argument.

How should dash cams be implemented?

A dash cam incentive should be executed in the same manner as the winter tire rebate. While winter tires provide peace of mind through accident prevention, dash cams provide peace of mind through the elimination of determining fault. It would cost an estimated $500 to install a dash cam in a car – why not be compensated with a 5 to 10 per cent reduction in your insurance premium. If an accident were to take place the insurance company would have access to the camera. Since the government has already put in place preventative measures, it makes sense to follow with reactive measures as well.

If you do find yourself in a car accident – calling a lawyer should be your first step. A lawyer can help you determine what needs to be reported and what legal options you have available to you.

Is Canada Really Ready For The Legalization Of Marijuana?

As the Canadian government pushes forward its plan to legalize marijuana by summer of 2018, it has left citizens and lawyers wondering if this will increase the number of impaired drivers. If we are to see a spike in impaired driving, the question becomes how are the government and police going to crack down on marijuana related impaired driving?

Currently, the Canadian government is constructing legislation around the purchasing and distribution of marijuana. This is to be combined with the impaired driving laws already instated. However, is this really as all encompassing as it seems? The Canadian government might be missing a key aspect.

The current impaired driving legislation is as follows:

Impaired driving means operating a vehicle (including cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

It is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada and the consequences are serious. You may:

  • lose your license
  • have your vehicle impounded
  • need to pay an administrative monetary penalty
  • need to attend an education or treatment program
  • be fined upon conviction
  • be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
  • spend time in jail
  • end up with a criminal record

 

Drug impaired driving

Drugs can impair your ability to drive and is illegal. This is true for both illegal drugs and prescription or over-the-counter medication.

As seen above, there is only one specific excerpt for drug related impaired driving. The rest of the legislation provides an in-depth discussion of impaired driving caused by drinking; looking at blood alcohol concentration and the specific fines and charges associated.

It is evident that overarching legislation is being put into place – the issue comes from the lack of specifics around marijuana related impairment. Unlike alcohol, there is no clear-cut method to determine what it means to be impaired by marijuana. There is no clear evidence indicating what level of THC would impair the driver.

Determining the legal level of THC would be nearly impossible as each person reacts to the effects of marijuana differently. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, “the effects appear to be individual. One person may be substantially impaired after a relatively small amount of marijuana, while someone else may be only moderately impaired after the same dose.”

The current method for determining marijuana impairment is conducted by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). However, the 12-step drug evaluation is a lengthy process and currently there are fewer than 600 DRE agents in Canada.

A third issue that arises is that even if marijuana is found in the system it is not always evident when the drug was consumed. Each individual metabolizes the drug differently.

How to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana as well as what it means to be impaired is still up for question. As the government continues to implement their plans to legalize marijuana it is imperative that clear-cut guidelines for marijuana impairment are put into place. Without, drivers may not know what a safe amount of marijuana is, officers will not know how to determine impairment as well as how to determine how impaired a driver is, there will not be a straight forward list of charges and fines, and the prosecution may have hard time setting precedence.