PERSONAL INJURY BLOG: Insurance Law

At Strype Injury Lawyers, securing your future is our life’s work. We do not settle files to appease insurance companies.
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Lawyer tries to overhaul civil jury process

Jeff Strype, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Lawyer, Toronto

Jeff Strype, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Lawyer, Toronto

A Toronto personal injury lawyer is not giving up his fight to reform the province’s civil jury process, despite a setback in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In Kapoor v. Kuzmanovski, Regional Senior Justice Peter Daley ruled against the plaintiff’s motion to either exclude anyone who pays car insurance premiums from the jury pool or give him the right to challenge them for cause.

But plaintiff’s counsel Jeff Strype has already applied for leave to appeal the decision to the Divisional Court, claiming drivers should be struck in these cases due to an inherent conflict of interest created by the risk large damage awards pose to their own premium levels.

He says he would like to see Ontario follow the lead of other jurisdictions, such as Quebec and the United Kingdom, where juries are no longer allowed in motor vehicle cases. In others, such as B.C., he says reforms such as a legislated right to challenge jury panel members for cause and expensive jury fees have helped level a playing field that otherwise seems tilted in favour of insurance companies.

“I think we have a serious problem; we’re the last bastion of the civil jury in the free world, with the possible exception of the U.S., where they have their own issues,” says Strype, the principal at Strype Injury Lawyers in Toronto. “I think I speak for the plaintiffs’ bar when I say that this has to be remedied. We need some more openness and transparency about how these triers of fact are arriving at their verdicts.”

Trying motor vehicle accident cases without a jury would also have the added benefit of saving time and courtroom space in an era of squeezed resources, according to Strype. As well as the problems caused by judicial shortages, he says, civil cases are more likely to be shunted as the knock-on effects are felt from the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Jordan, which imposed strict deadlines on criminal cases heard in Superior Court.

“Jury cases take twice as long as judge-alone trials, so that could them free them up to do so much more work,” Strype says.

Read the whole article here: Law Times News Article 

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Auto insurer fights paying a teen with catastrophic injury

“It was a gotcha moment that didn’t go so well for an insurance company determined to play hard ball with a mentally ill young woman.

For 16 days — more than double the usual length of an arbitration — the lawyer for RBC Insurance, now Aviva, hammered away at S.P., insisting she wasn’t really left seriously injured after she was rear-ended in a 2010 collision when she was just 17.

Witnesses testified S.P. was a shadow of the person she was before the accident. Once a good student who aspired to be a lawyer, her mental health had deteriorated to the point where she was suicidal, repeatedly hospitalized, prone to angry outbursts, forced to drop out of college after a breakdown and incapable of holding down a job.

Of course, the insurer tried everything in their arsenal to prevent having to pay out. How low they will go is just astounding. …”

Read the whole article by Michele Mandel, award-winning columnist for the Toronto Sun currently writing about justice issues: http://torontosun.com/news/local-news/mandel-shameful-attempts-by-auto-insurer-to-fight-paying-a-teen-with-catastrophic-injury

Each day Strype Injury Lawyers work with people whose lives and families have been destroyed by the negligence of others.

With more than 50 years of experience, Strype Injury Lawyers have built a reputation for legal excellence and client advocacy. Our approach is simple: if a reasonable out-of-court settlement can’t be reached, we will take your case to court and litigate to obtain fair compensation.

Contact us today and tell us about your situation. Our team of personal injury lawyers, paralegals, insurance, financial, disability, benefits and administrative professionals are here to listen and help.

 

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Michelle Kungl’s incredible journey: Disability and disability insurance

Ontario’s narrow and rule-bound social assistance system: does it cover medical and disability-related expenses.

From the moment she was born, Michelle Kungl has been fighting — for her life, for independence, for every breath. She has battled every obstacle with a warrior’s spirit, but now, as an adult, she is up against her most daunting barrier yet: Ontario’s rule-bound social assistance system.

Michelle overcame impossible medical odds as a child. But as an adult she is fighting her most frustrating and seemingly impossible battle yet — convincing Ontario’s narrow and rule-bound social assistance system that she is disabled enough to receive help to cover her extraordinary medical and disability-related expenses.

For more than two decades, Pooran and other disability advocates have been urging Queen’s Park to ease the onerous reporting requirements and strict income and asset rules that govern ODSP. He is accompanying Michelle and Lyn to a meeting with provincial officials early next month to discuss her case.

Although Pooran acknowledges Michelle is somewhat unique — few with her level of disability work full time — her experience highlights the problem most people on social assistance face when they try to work or receive income from other sources. More than 900,000 Ontarians rely on social assistance, including more than 490,000 on ODSP. Barely 10 per cent of individuals receiving ODSP have employment income.

It is a key issue Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek asked a provincial working group to address last summer as part of a review of Ontario’s income security system. The group’s 10-year blueprint for reform, is expected in October.

In the meantime, a ministry spokesperson said the government has already increased the amount individuals and families can deduct from their earnings for disability-work related expenses from $300 to $1,000 a month.

Read this whole story by By

Read about accident benefits, on our site, here.

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Auto insurance rates rise again, putting promised cuts in the rearview

Province previously said it’d reduce premiums by an average of 15 per cent.
Auto insurance rates in Ontario rose again in the second quarter of 2017.
Approved rates posted by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario show an average increase of 0.76 per cent.
Last quarter, rates went up by an average of 1.24 per cent.

Read more, here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/auto-insurance-rates-go-up-1.4212510

Strype Injury Lawyers have decades of experience and success trying complex automotive accident cases.

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Strype Injury Lawyers: Access to Justice

Court delays deny access to justice for personal injury victims

Virtually every week, media headlines shine a spotlight on the trial delays plaguing our courts. But this coverage tells only half the story of the hurdles faced by personal injury victims in Ontario when it comes to gaining fair access to justice.

As we’ve seen in several high-profile cases such as the Supreme Court’s decision in R v Jordan—in which the Court decided that criminal cases in provincial courts should take no longer than 18 months from the charge to the end of trial—criminal charges, even grievous ones, are sometimes ‘stayed’ or dismissed because they were not dealt with expeditiously.

Those charged with a crime in Canada are entitled to trial within a reasonable time under s. 11(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There is, however, another unintended consequence of that Supreme Court ruling. Because criminal trials take precedence over civil actions and because we have a serious shortage of judges, civil proceedings are often unreasonably delayed, sometimes for years on end. A civil suit in Ontario may require six to eight years from the date that the Statement of Claim is issued until resolution.

The impact on personal injury victims

Victims who are injured in a motor vehicle accident or another catastrophic event are often unable to work, and as a result, must survive financially on accident benefits in the interim—amounts that tend to be a mere fraction of their regular income. This hardship often results in significant stress, mental health issues, divorce and family breakdown.

Furthermore, because of the way that accident benefits are structured, insurers can arbitrarily cut off those benefits, which they do routinely.

The unfair settlement loophole

Insurance companies exploit these facts and delays to their advantage. They fully understand that their own clients are often desperate to settle for much less than they deserve, because they are facing bankruptcy. To compound the pressure, they routinely seek multiple court delays of six months to a year for various reasons, and consistently refuse to make reasonable—or any—offers of settlement. They know that a trial will be set so far in the future that their client will be forced to accept minimal compensation just to survive.

Even if a trial date is determined, that only indicates its opening day. Because of the problems in the court system, civil trials are routinely interrupted, or canceled at the last minute and rescheduled many months into the future. This is not only unfair to the plaintiffs, it also forces their lawyers to spend inordinate amounts of time preparing for a trial, then more time at a much later date as they work to review the case once again.

Insurance companies benefit with every delay in the resolution of a case, all at accident victims’ expense.

Jury trials for injury cases

The worst-case scenario for an accident victim is a trial by jury. Those trials take 50 per cent longer than trials by judge alone, largely for procedural reasons.

The situation is so dire that in Brampton, for example, jurors are being bused back and forth every day to other locations such as Milton or Orangeville, because of the shortage of judges and trial space. Juries, on the other hand, are subconsciously aware that substantial awards will affect their own car insurance rates, and often award sums that fall far short in addressing accident victims’ medical and ongoing support needs.

The case for timely justice in civil law

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that an accused in a criminal case has the right to be tried “within a reasonable time frame”, and that the court “has a role to play in changing courtroom culture and facilitating a more efficient justice system.”

This ‘access to justice’ standard should apply to civil cases as well.

– Strype Injury Law

Get more information about the process of personal injury trials or settlementscontact Strype Injury Law today.