The Ottawa injury Lawyers at Allan Snelling LLP routinely advise clients who wish to assert their rights against parties who have caused physical or financial injuries. As a general proposition injury Lawyers, Ottawa and more particularly Ontario based, must have a solid understanding of the law of limitations. In Ontario the law of limitations is complicated, and can involve a number of different statutes.
Of great importance for people needing to assert their rights is the issue of limitation bars, due to delay in asserting a claim. Many legal proceedings are subject to statutory limitations. But the issue is not simple, the running of statutory limitation periods is subject to a number of qualifications, including whether the party wishing to commence a proceeding is under a legal disability ( for instance, a minor), and at what point the cause of action at issue was legally discoverable. The issues are complex, specific to individual cases, and often require professional analysis.
The case of Zurba v. Lakeridge Health Corporation et.al. is a recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice which illustrates the complexity of determining limitation issues. In that case the defendants sought to have the plaintiff action dismissed because it was commenced after the limitation period had expired. The court found that the matter was not clear, that there was evidence that the plaintiff did not know the defendant was responsible for the injury until long after it had been inflicted, and that on that basis the matter could proceed for adjudication at trial.
To see the full text of this decision go to: http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2010/2010onsc318/2010onsc318.html
The message to people who have suffered a compensable injury is to not delay in seeking the advice of an injury Lawyer. Ottawa based counsel at Allan Snelling LLP are available to provide an initial consultation to prospective clients without obligation. Injury Lawyers in our firm have experience dealing with limitation issues. Our Ottawa Injury Lawyers have the experience, dedication and understanding needed to help you assert your rights. If you have been injured, call us today.
Frequently Asked Questions
I was a cyclist involved in a car accident. What are my rights?
In short, the same as those of a driver or passenger. Liability may be handled differently, but the cyclist maintains a right to claim against the at-fault driver and seek benefits from the applicable insurer. Your car insurance is meant to provide accident benefits if you're involved in a car accident. It does not matter whether you were actually driving a car. As long as you have car insurance, your accident benefits should kick in. If you don't have car insurance, the at-fault driver's insurance will provide accident benefits. Either way, you should be covered by a policy. If neither of you has insurance, there's still the motor vehicle accident fund which acts as a safety net in cases where insurance is not available.
Typically, there's an assumption that the cyclist was not at fault. This does not mean you can pedal around with no regard to surrounding traffic. You still have to be diligent and you still owe yourself an obligation to proceed with reason. Any contribution found on your behalf will reduce the value of your claim. You can be deemed contributorily negligent if you don't wear the proper protective gear, or if you don't abide by the rules of the road.
Seasonal changes in traffic will often give rise to increases in car accidents involving cyclist. A good portion of the driving population does not properly adapt to these changes. This causes drivers to make assumptions they shouldn't make: disregarding their blind spot, failing to keep track of cyclist in the bike lane, opening their doors without thinking of oncoming cyclist. Unfortunately, the injuries are often devastating. Even with protective gear, the force of direct impact may leave the cyclist with serious, life-changing and permanent injuries.
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Somatic Symptom Disorder - What is it and how can we prove it?
The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently crystallised the importance of considering how psychiatric injuries accompany physical ones. In Saadati v. Moorhead, Saadati was in a car accident and suffered psychological and emotional trauma. He was awarded damages for mental injury based on the evidence of a lay witness who explained that Saadati’s personality changed post-accident. Expert evidence was not necessary, and the award did not need an attached “recognizable psychiatric illness.” The court found that requiring mental injury to pass the threshold of medical-expert testimony showing a “recognizable psychiatric illness,” while not requiring the same “classificatory label” of physical injury, would amount to unequal protection for those with a mental injury.
This SCC decision confirmed that the law of negligence accords identical treatment to mental and physical injury. This is a decision that is often looked at, as of late, with an overwhelming increase in the diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder (SSD). In dealing with my fair share of personal injury cases, I’ve started to notice this increase. The criteria for the illness remain broad, and like so many other cognitive/psychological conditions, it tends to be met with quite a bit of push back from defendants.
The DSM-5 characterises the condition as follows:
“SSD is characterised by somatic symptoms that are either very distressing or result in significant disruption of functioning, as well as excessive and disproportionate thoughts, feelings and behaviours regarding those symptoms. To be diagnosed with SSD, the individual must be persistently symptomatic (typically at least for 6 months).”
I tend to see this diagnosis when clients are suffering from longstanding subjective physical symptoms. The client is in extreme physical distress, but there’s no explanation of where this additional distress comes from. The pain felt by the client is otherwise disproportionate to the actual seriousness of the injury. I’ve always viewed it as an uncontrollable dispute between the body and the mind. I say this because typically the body is ready to be healed but the mind isn’t.
The proof isn’t as solid as we wish it was. The driving force of the diagnosis is the client’s own reaction to assessment and medical investigation. An SSD case can often be met by an assumption of “fake” injuries or plaintiff malingering. However, the SCC worded it properly when stating that the trier of fact should “not [be] concerned with the diagnosis, but with symptoms and their effects.” This point should always be emphasised when dealing with SSD cases. Focusing on the genuine statement of lay witnesses and providing a clear historical approach of the impact caused by the negligent act, remains the best means to put forward a strong SSD case.
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What does "no fee unless you win" actually mean and how do most personal injury Lawyers get paid?
Answer: Taken literally and with knowledge of what goes into every account "no win, no fee" is a legitimate statement. That means: Yes, the Lawyer will not get a fee if you don't receive compensation. However, in addition to fees, there are also costs and disbursements.
Costs represent the defendant's legal costs that are due if you get an adverse judgment. These fall on your shoulders and not your Lawyers. Costs insurance can be available in some cases and should be explored in your initial meetings (the earlier you get it, the cheaper it is).
Disbursements are the funds paid upfront by your Lawyer to carry your file. They include things like photocopying, mail/postage, travel costs, filing costs and medical-legal assessments. A Lawyer can run up disbursements in the thousands and if successful, the defendant will pay the value of your claim plus these disbursements. However, if you're unsuccessful, these disbursements are typically due and owed by you. Meaning, if you don't "win" you owe the Lawyer what was spent to carry your file. Unpaid disbursements may also be covered through your costs’ insurance.
Most personal injury Lawyers work off contingency, meaning that they are compensated based on the result. They take a percentage of your settlement. That percentage is typically 30-35% depending on the Lawyer.
The fee isn't as simple as just taking a percentage of the overall settlement. It must be broken down in accordance with what a Lawyer is legally able to take. For instance, they cannot take more than the client receives. They cannot take "costs" which amount to about 15% of the value of your claim and are used to counterbalance your contingency fee.
Here's how it might play out:
Let's say the value of your claim is $100,000. In addition to the value of your claim, the defendant will have to cover disbursements (what was paid to run your file) and costs. A typical settlement could be broken down as follows:
- value of claim: $100,000
- disbursements: $15,000 (including HST)
- costs: $12,319.37
- DEFENDANT'S PAYMENT: $127,319.37
The Lawyer's fee is taken out of the value of the claim and not the defendant's entire payment. So if the contingency is set at 30%, the Lawyer's fee in the above example would be $30,000 + H.S.T.. The Lawyer will take the disbursements as well to cover the funds he or she spent on the file. You're left with the remainder. Here's how it works using the above example:
- defendant's payment: $127,319.37
- disbursements: (-) $15,000 (including HST)
- legal fee: (-) $30,000
- HST on legal fee: (-) $3,900
- IN YOUR POCKET: $78,416.37
The exact calculation used could change depending on the facts of each case. As a note, claims are typically subject to pre and post-judgment interest at a variable rate. This will be added to the defendant’s payment.
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