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Getting the Most Out of
By Jason Epstein
Like most of you, I’ve heard my share of lawyer jokes. I also know that my profession, personal injury attorney, doesn’t receive many heroic portrayals in most television shows and movies. More often than not, characters playing lawyers are used for cheap laughs or as an example of moral bankruptcy.
It can almost make a guy want to be a dentist instead.
That’s a awesome deal of the reason why I started – to give people the plain and simple facts about what a personal injury lawyer does and how they help victims of auto, motorcycle or other unexpected accidents. I’ve found through my Seattle-based practice that education is the best way to help people understand what their rights are in these situations, how they can properly protect themselves and just what a lawyer can and can’t do for them.
When you’re injured because of a drunk driver – or an unsafe construction site – or someone’s carelessness – you should have a way to gain justice for what’s been done to you. That’s why personal injury lawyers exist – to help victims find recourse. To be honest, sometimes you don’t even need a lawyer to get what you deserve – and I’ll be straight with you about that.
In order to help clarify my philosophy and approach to my profession, as well as give the public the knowledge they need about personal injury lawyers, I’ve created a awesome many totally free resources on that I hope you will take advantage of.
The best place to begin is to watch the series of videos I produced, which you’ll find on the website’s home page, or at my YouTube channel at You’ll find straightforward explanations on such topics as going to trial, the types of insurance involved in personal injury cases, what your personal injury case might be worth, the personal injury legal process and attorney contingency fees.
If you want to know more about these kinds of topics, I’m also currently offering four valuable books at no cost – “The Truth about Washington Auto Accidents,” The Truth about Buying Washington Auto Insurance,” “The Truth about Washington Motorcycle Accidents,” and “The Shocking Truth about Lawyer Advertising.” All of these books are available absolutely free without any kind of commitment from you. You can order them at .
Educating yourself about these subjects, especially if and when you suffer through a personal injury as a result of an accident, can potentially save you thousands of dollars and help you make wise choices. Again, I hope you will access this important information and gain a better understanding of just how a personal injury attorney can assist you should you be involved in an unfortunate mishap.
Please feel free to visit my website at on a regular basis. We will be continually posting new articles and blogs in the coming weeks about relevant cases and other personal injury and wrongful death legal issues.

Source by pankaj1

Personal Injury Lawyers in Melbourne Australia – Tips for Choosing the Right One

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Personal injury lawyers in Melbourne Australia are often hired by people who have suffered injuries because of another person’s negligence. In this article, we will examine the requirements for filing a legitimate personal injury claim and we will also respond to the one question that always comes up. If you live in Melbourne Australia, do you need a personal injury lawyer in order to recover your expenses after an accident?

If a person suffers an injury on another person’s property, they might be able to file a personal injury claim. Australian workers compensation lawyers in Melbourne say that there are a minimum of three questions that have to be posed to determine if it is possible to recover costs and receive any compensation for pain and suffering. They are very easy questions, but you must answer them completely truthfully:

1. Did anyone get injured physically?

2. Did anyone receive any kind of medical attention?

3. Was it the fault of the victim or someone else involved?

Any individual who is thinking about filing a personal injury claim needs to do a thorough assessment of the injury in order to respond to this question truthfully. A Melbourne, Australia personal injury lawyer might pose certain questions to an individual looking for advice regarding a potential claim, including: Were there any broken or fractured bones? Was any blood lost by the person injured? Was consciousness lost due to the injury? Are you suffering from recurring symptoms as a result of your injury? Are you in any type of pain? If the response to any of these questions is “yes,” then the injured individual may seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim in Melbourne.

The next question that will require a response in order to determine if a Melbourne personal injury claim is feasible is whether there was any medical treatment rendered to the injured person as a result of the injury. A personal injury claim can be filed if you answered yes to the previous question, but there is a third one to be asked.

Who was the person at fault? Australian compensation lawyers say that the issue of negligence is the critical factor in determining if it is feasible to file a personal injury claim. The injury may be the result of the injured individual’s carelessness or due to naturally occurring conditions, like lightning or other weather-related circumstances. If another party is directly responsible for your personal injury, then you are able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Melbourne.

Once a person has decided to go ahead and file a personal injury claim, they will most likely ask if a personal injury lawyer in Melbourne Australia is required in order to file a claim. The laws related to personal injury claims are quite complex, and the legal tasks related to filing and presenting a personal injury claim are filled with pitfalls that you will want to bypass.

In Melbourne, you also have to meet certain other criteria in order to file a personal injury claim. This question only has one definitive response. You will require the assistance of an experienced legal professional, who will gather all of the necessary evidence and will make appropriate arguments for the injured person to receive compensation for all costs incurred as well as for the pain and suffering that they endured.

There are several qualified personal injury lawyers in Melbourne, Australia, and a person who has suffered an injury should be sure to select one who has the experience and credentials required to properly file a successful personal injury claim.

Source by Jerry Carpos

Personal Injury Attorney – Points To Consider

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Personal injury is a legal term that is used for when a person receives a physical or mental injury due to the negligence of another person. Generally personal injury cases involve mishaps at workplace, domestic accidents, product defects, slip-and-fall accidents and mishaps leading to tripping. Dental accidents and industrial disease cases also fall under this category.

Personal injury cases are not easy to deal with. They often lead to dangerous aftermaths making it difficult to proceed with a lawsuit. The best option under such conditions would be to hire a personal injury attorney. He is a trained legal representative who has ample knowledge regarding the implications of personal injury cases.

Here are a few advantages of getting help from a personal injury lawyer:

1.A personal injury lawyer is an individual who holds specialization in the field of injury cases and can fight for your rights with perfection. He can carefully analyze the possible outcomes legal procedure. He can evaluate the chances of your case and you can thereby draw a reasonable idea of how your case can come together as.

2.A professional attorney can show you the right way through the intricate legal procedures.

3.A lawyer is in constant touch with the several significant people at the court. So, he must be updated with all the latest legal procedures.

4.The foremost advantage of hiring a personal injury lawyer can be an assurance that your case is being dealt by someone who is skilled in this field and knows what should be the subsequent step. So, you can relieve your mind of the tension and stress.

5.A lawyer will be representing you at the court. He is the person who knows how present your situation in front of the judge along with the available evidences and witnesses.

A personal injury could prove to be a challenging phase in anyone’s life. Without the help of a professional legal representative, a person may not be able to fulfill the necessary legal formalities. Employing a personal injury attorney can be of awesome help as he is a person who holds specialized knowledge in the field of personal injury cases.

Your lawyer must be qualified enough, experienced enough and reputed enough to take up your case. Also, he must hold a valid license to practice law in your area. You must make sure of these details before you employ your personal injury attorney. Iowa citizens can contact Lawyer Lawyer Dutton & Drake LLP for availing the best legal services.

Source by Alice Shown

A Guide To Personal Injury Claim Process

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You have experienced an injury for which someone else is responsible. When you know that another person’s negligence has caused your injury you should take legal action. So you have hired a personal injury lawyer. Now what to do? If you file a personal injury claim you need to go through a certain procedure. When you go to file a claim you should understand what is awaiting you in the process.

This article will help you to understand the entire procedure after you file a personal injury claim.

The first thing that your lawyer will help you to do is to learn if you are within statute of limitations for your claim. Even if you have the best lawyer with you the claim will not be considered if you file the case too late after the incident has taken place. It doesn’t matter whether your lawyer is the best attorney of the city. The court will not accept your case when you have almost recovered and it makes sense. For example you suffered from neck injury months back and when you file the case you have completely recovered. So there is no evidence whether the injury has at all taken place. Naturally the case you file will not be valid in such a situation. Keeping this in mind you should file your case immediately after getting injured. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to get the compensation you deserve.

If your statue of limitations has not expired the lawyer will take all the necessary steps to make sure you win the case. Your attorney will file papers and take them to the court. You need to offer a filing fee for those papers. The parties you want to sue will then receive a copy of those papers which will inform them that you are going to take legal action against them.

The next phase is the discovery phase. During the discovery process both plaintiff and defendant can strengthen their arguments. If you are the injured person who has made the claim the court will appoint a doctor to examine your injuries. The doctor will assess how severe is your injury.

All cases don’t go for trial. Out-of-court settlement is also a good way of getting quick compensation. But it is only possible when both the parties agree to come to a mutual settlement with the help of their lawyers. If both the parties accept the settlement amount willingly then there is no need to take the case to the court. The case will only proceed to a courtroom setting when the plaintiff and defendant disagree on a settlement.

If you have been injured in Boca Raton hire a personal injury lawyer in Boca Raton to handle the case. The injury can cost you a good deal of money. But you are entitled to a settlement when some one else is responsible for your injury. It is difficult to get compensation on your won. So hire an attorney who can help you to win the case.

Source by Steve Johnson

Scar Injury Claim Question – Expert Advice

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The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from, a free Q & A service on the internet

Subject: Scar Injury Claim

Question: I’m writing on behalf of my friend. She and her boyfriend were in WalMart late at night, when there’s typically a lot of stocking and cleaning,etc., being done. A young male employee was about to begin mopping the floor. When they approached the area he was about to mop, he told them not to walk on that part of the floor. My friend’s boyfriend said that was the only way they could reach the item they wanted to purchase and walked across it anyway, retrieved the item and tried to continue on to the cashier with it. The employee got mad and threw his mop down hard on the floor, and the mop bounced off the floor and hit my friend on her leg and hurt her.

She immediately cried, "He hurt me! Look at my leg!" etc., and there was a mark on her shin where the mop had hit her.

Her boyfriend was close to hitting the employee, but he did not, but he did make him apologize to my friend for hurting her.

They then called for a manager and the employee was called into the office where my friend and her boyfriend also were. The employee was fired on the spot, and my friend was given a claim form to fill out. She also took pictures of the mark on her leg, and noted that she was limping from this then too. There was at least one witness to the incident, an electronics department employee, who agreed with her statement of what happened completely, and she got his name at the time. She was also already calling up her lawyer on her cellphone at the time they were in the office being given the claim form.

Her lawyer told her the next day that she had a good case, and he would take it on contingency. But he’s not been very communicative since then, and she’s not sure what’s going on now. It’s been over 2 months. The mark is still very visible on her leg, and is sure to leave a scar.

She did get a call from WalMart saying they had a settlement offer for her, but she missed the call and just got this in a message from her teenage daughter and hasn’t heard what the offer is. Her lawyer has filed the case with the courthouse, but we don’t know what’s happening now. This all happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I’ve read thru many of these cases on this site that you all are answering questions about, and I haven’t seen any cases like hers, where the injury at WalMart was caused by an employee on purpose. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about how this fact might make things different than the typical "slip and fall" case that I’ve seen so many of in these questions.

Basically, we are just very curious to know how much she can expect to be paid from this, even a ballpark figure… are we talking hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands…?? Obviously we are clueless about this.

As I read thru the cases on this site, I noticed how some of these injuries people got are very serious, and this makes me wonder why my friend’s lawyer seems to think she has such a good case, when her injury was very minor, especially compared to some of these others. I do believe she will have a scar there forever, but she never had to go to the doctor for this, all it did was make her walk with a limp for a week or so and leave that mark on her shin. But the employee (former) obviously mistreated them and WalMart obviously agrees she should be compensated somehow for it, but can you tell us anything more at all about this, even if it’s just speculation?

Thanks for your help.

Answer: The answer to your question depends on the law in Oklahoma for this type of incident. I am an attorney in Florida so I can’t advise you about Oklahoma’s laws. Laws vary from state to state so what happens in Florida may not be the case in Oklahoma.

However, the amount of damages your friend can expect depends on the severity of her scar, and any other medical issues that resulted from the mop incident. If it is a scar that is very visible and large, the value of her scar injury claim goes up. If it is a scar that is not visible, and/or its a smaller scar, the value is smaller. Your friend should document the existence of the scar through photographs in the event it disappears, or gets worse over time.

A scar injury claim is usually a valuable claim, particularly if the injured person is a woman, and the scar is visible. For some reason, insurance companies don’t seem to be bothered if a man gets a scar, unless it is very visible, i.e. on his face.

Wal Mart is responsible for the incident as it occurred during the course and scope of the employees job, and while he was on duty. I’m not sure why her attorney "has filed the case with the courthouse". Usually, you try to settle claims "pre-suit" before filing a lawsuit. I would guess approximately 60-70% of claims settle pre-suit in Florida. Additionally, Wal Mart will usually consider a pre-suit demand letter and try to negotiate a settlement before suit is filed. You may not be happy with the amount of their offer, but if not, you can always file suit.

You should check with her attorney to find out what the status of the scar injury claim is. The attorney should be contacting Wal Mart if Wal Mart has indicated a willingness.

Again, its difficult to give you an estimate of the value, but if its a minimal scar, your friend can expect a settlement offer of thousands, not hundreds of thousands. Your attorney should be able to tell you what the case is worth.

Good Luck.

For more information about a scar injury claim, contact Florida premises liability lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at, or email him today.

Source by Joseph M. Maus

Grocery Cart Accident – Expert Advice from a Florida Personal Injury Accidents Lawyer

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The following is an expert answer given by Florida Premises Liability Lawyer, Joseph M. Maus, and taken from, a free Q & A service on the internet:

Question: I have been reading some of the other posts for slip and falls. I don’t see any information or letters that pertain to grocery carts (not that there aren’t any.) I was at a grocery store with my 17 month old daughter sitting in the front compartment of a grocery cart (she was buckled in) and my son sitting in basket. I felt the cart was wobbling however I knew I only wanted to pick up a few items so it would not take long. Well as my son was getting out, I held onto the cart, however, because the wheels were not secure, the cart tipped over with my daughter in the cart. She fell on her side and injured her hand, however no broken bones according to her Pediatrician. I filled out an accident report with the store manager and he did see the blood on her hand after the fall. A rep for the store called and left me a message today. My question is, am I entitled to any compensation for my daughters pain and suffering? After reading some of the other letters I don’t think the injuries are severe enough to seek an attorney or should I? Do you think it would be necessary to write a letter demanding or requesting a settlement? Thank you for your time! Your site has been very helpful.

Your email does not indicate what state you live in.  I am a Florida personal injury accidents attorney specializing in auto accidents, slip and falls, and workers compensation claims.  Laws vary from state to state so the best advice I can give you is to consult with an accident lawyer in your area.

Regarding your daughter’s accident, the same standard for negligence should apply.  In Florida, a store owner owes two duties to its customers – maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn its customers of dangerous conditions that the customers cannot appreciate themselves.  This would extend to a store’s grocery carts and making sure they are in good working order.  A cart that tips over on its own while your daughter is sitting in it is obviously not working properly.

Most stores do routine maintenance on their carts so that they operate properly for shoppers.  However, just judging by my own experience at grocery and “big box” stores, it is the exception that you get a grocery cart that works properly, rather than the norm. You almost always get a cart with a wobbly wheel.  In order to determine whether you have a claim to pursue against this store, you would have to be able to show that this particular store was not properly maintaining its carts.  In my opinion, based on what happened with the cart, if your daughter’s injury is serious enough, you should pursue the claim.

At least in the case of Florida personal injury accidents and in most other states, when making a negligence claim for injuries, you can recover damages for pain and suffering, both in the past and if she is going to have pain and suffering in the future due to the injury.  Additionally, you can recover damages for past and future medical bills.

You may want to ask the grocery store if they have an insurance policy which has medical payments coverage, also known as “medpay”.  Medpay is insurance coverage that will reimburse you for any out of pocket medical expenses you incur for medical treatment for your daughter.  The store would also have liability coverage which is insurance which covers claims such as your daughters.

You do have the opportunity to try and settle your daughters claim without an accident lawyer.  It just depends on how serious the injury is.  For very minor injuries, I would probably suggest putting in writing a summary of how the accident occurred, the reason the store is responsible, and details of your daughter’s injury and medical care.  You should include a demand for settlement – a dollar figure – which you would be comfortable settling the claim for.  Keep in mind, whatever dollar figure you put down, the store or its insurance company will try to negotiate down from that amount, i.e. aim high.

If the injury is more serious, I would not hesitate to speak with an experienced accident injury attorney.  An attorney specializing in negligence claims will know how to proceed on the claim to maximize your daughters’ recovery, and to resolve the claim as quickly as possible.  One of the first things you or your accident lawyer would want to do is to advise the store to preserve the cart, without alteration, so it can be inspected to determine why it tipped over.


Hi Joseph, yes I am in Apopka, FL…sorry about that. Thank you so much for responding so quickly.

My intentions were to write a letter demanding compensation for pain and suffering not for the medical. My insurance covers my daughter’s medical 100%.

When I return the call to the rep for the grocery store should I tell her I will be writing a letter requesting compensation? Can you help me with writing the letter and where the letter should be sent? Should I copy anyone in upper mgmt such as the CEO, CFO, COO, etc? I am willing to pay (if it’s not too expensive).

By the way, with regards to the cart: the manager told the cart attendent to remove the cart after the incident happened.

Thank you again for all your help!!!

You should probably explain to the grocery store representative that you are considering hiring an attorney as your daughter is having significant problems with her injuries.  You can inquire about the possibility of a settlement prior to you hiring an attorney.  The store will most likely request a settlement demand, preferably in writing, and summarizing your daughter’s injuries, to include an amount you are comfortable settling the claim for.  Keep in mind the grocery store will attempt to negotiate down from whatever you demand, so leave yourself room to negotiate.

If you’re not satisfied with the grocery store’s response, I would probably speak with a Florida personal injury accidents lawyer.  Most Florida injury attorneys handle these claims on a contingent basis, which means you would not have to pay them anything out of your pocket, but they would be entitled to a percentage of whatever is recovered, usually 1/3 if the claim is settled before filing a lawsuit.

With regard to the cart, you obviously want the cart removed from being used, but you don’t want it destroyed or repaired.  If you need to file a lawsuit down the road, you will need that cart to prove liability against the grocery store.

For more information about Florida personal injury accidents, contact Florida premises liability lawyer, Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at, or email him today.

Source by Joseph M. Maus

Florida Personal Injury Attorney and Lawyer Help is Available Now!

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If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own in Florida, personal injury attorney help is available. A competent Florida personal injury attorney can obtain damages for your physical, emotional and financial injuries. If you’ve been injured in Florida, personal injury attorney assistance is available now.

You will likely incur significant expenses in the event of a personal injury, including physical and mental injuries, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future medical expenses and other damages recoverable in Florida. Personal injury attorney responsibilities include the hiring of experts in engineering, accident reconstruction, vocational rehabilitation and other specialized fields. Costs to hire these accidents are usually advanced by the Florida personal injury attorney.

There are many types of accidents that cause a Florida personal injury. Lawyer information regarding the types of accidents that cause personal injury is widely available. Types of accidents which cause personal injury include car, auto, truck, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents, serious food poisoning incidents as well as trip and fall, slip and fall and other types of accidents in Florida.

Personal injuries can range from neck and back sprain to catastrophic injuries including traumatic brain injury, broken bones, fractures, nerve damage, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, spinal cord injury and many other types of injury not resulting and resulting in surgery. A Florida personal injury attorney with experience with your type of case and specific injury should be consulted soon after you receive medical attention.

A Florida personal injury lawyer can advise you as to what course of action that should be taken. This is a personal choice. A Florida personal injury attorney will explain that you are only seeking what the other person took away from you. Failure to contact a Florida personal injury lawyer may result in you having to foot the bill for your injuries as well as having to suffer pain in your previously pain free body.

Most people have never sued anyone, do not want to sue anyone and look unfavorably on others who hire a Florida personal injury attorney to investigate a claim or file a lawsuit. Unfortunately, if you have been the victim of someone else’s careless conduct, sometimes the only alternative to get back what you have lost is by hiring a Florida personal injury attorney.

If you decide to hire a Florida personal injury lawyer, what should be done varies because of the many factors to consider when evaluating a Florida personal injury. Attorney and lawyer experience with your type of injury case will dictate what actions should be taken to protect your rights in Florida. Personal injury attorney background with the applicable Florida laws will allow him or her to correctly evaluate all the facts regarding your accident to make sure that you get the maximum amount of compensation.

A skilled Florida personal injury lawyer knows that to prove your claim for the elements of damages recoverable in Florida, personal injury attorney and lawyer ability to hire skilled experts in engineering, accident reconstruction, vocational rehabilitation and other specialized fields should be considered. These costs are usually advanced by the attorney at no up front cost to the client in Florida. Personal injury attorney inability to hire experts because of under funding should be scrutinized as your rights can be adversely affected.

You can determine whether a Florida personal injury lawyer is right for you by many factors. One way is by referral. Referral to a qualified lawyer makes finding an attorney in Florida personal. Injury attorney and lawyer referral by someone you trust allows you to feel an enhanced comfort level. Although referral is an excellent way to find a lawyer, the best way to find an attorney may be by the internet in Florida. Personal injury attorney and lawyer information on websites throughout the country can help you sort out the numerous issues that you must deal with to protect your legal rights.

Florida personal injury attorney websites have convenient phone numbers and e-mail contact forms which allow clients to consult with an attorney from anywhere in Florida. Personal injury attorney and lawyer sites have added the ability to contact the attorney by instant messaging, text messaging and Skype computer voice technology. Whether you find an attorney through a referral, the internet or other means, there has never been a time when access to legal services has been better in Florida. Personal injury attorney and lawyer assistance is available throughout Florida now.

For more resources about Florida Personal Injury Attorney or even about Florida Personal Injury Lawyer please review this website

Source by Groshan Fabiola

Finding The Best Washington State Personal Injury Attorney

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Are you a resident of Washington state and searching for a personal injury attorney to assist you with your personal injury claim? Well if you are, here are a few factors to consider that will help you choose a good personal injury attorney to bring your claim to court.

One of the first things you would have to look at is, if at all someone is to blame for the sequence of events that led to your personal injury. You would also want to find out the dollar amount you can realistically expect if you win. All of these questions will be answered at a consulting session with at least two attorneys. Let the attorneys give you a rough calculation of how much they think you’ll receive. Make your own estimate at around three-fourths on the lowest calculation.

Once you have a general estimate of how much you’re likely to get, you would be able to know if its worth going to court for. Your personal injury attorneys will also be able to give you advice on that although the final decision lies with you.

Once you have made the decision to pursue the case further you should then start looking around for a Washington State personal injury attorney that will best present you case in court.

If your personal injury is very serious, then the fee should not be an object, because your well-being is the most important thing. Fortunately many Washington State personal injury attorneys recognize that their clients may not be in a position to pay them straight away. Hence they are prepared to wait until the case is won.

So what you then do next is to do a search of all Washington State personal injury attorneys. Compile a list of criteria that they have to meet and put the ones who meet your criteria on a separate list. The criteria can be about what they specialize in as well as whether they charge a fee upfront. If your case is about car accidents you may want to look for attorneys that specialize in the area of car accident personal injury.

After you have done this exercise you would have a list of personal injury attorneys who are all potential candidates for your intended case.

The next thing to do is to start contacting all the Washington State personal attorneys on your list. Call them one by one and schedule appointments with each one. Only after you have seen all of them should you make a decision as to who you should pick. Don’t let anyone put pressure on you to pick a specific attorney. Choose someone that you believe will represent you in the best possible way.

Source by Jimmy Roos

Access to Catastrophic Benefits under the SABS Ontario Canada

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Access to Catastrophic Benefits under the SABS: ONtario Personal Injury Law

Working with several injured accident victims who suffer life-altering changes as a result of traumatic events in their lives is both daunting and rewarding.  The injured victim and their families require immediate insurance coverage for a multitude of expenses for medical costs and attendant needs that are not available through the public health care system.

In the context of motor vehicle liability insurance, the Ontario Government has recognized over the years and since 1990 the need for an expense recovery system outside of the traditional tort system so that the injured party does not have to await the outcome of litigation against an at-fault party before getting reimbursed for their expenses.  Since 1990, the Statutory Accident Benefit Schedule (“SABS”) has provided up-front medical, rehabilitation, attendant care, income benefit and other expenses to injured accident victims regardless of fault (i.e. No-Fault Benefits).  Since 1996, the SABS have provided a two-tiered delivery of medical, rehabilitation, attendant care and housekeeping coverage depending on the classification of the injury.

The term “Catastrophic” is defined in the SABS and is used as a division for the most serious and permanently injured to access increased benefits past the fixed periods assigned for the “non-Catastrophic” claimants.

This paper will examine some of the legislative changes that have emerged since the introduction of Catastrophic Impairment in the SABS and the jurisprudence that has resulted from the most contentious clauses of the definition.

1.    Legislative Framework

Sections 2(1.2)(e) through (g) of the current version  of the SABS define “Catastrophic Impairment” as follows:

(1.2)  For the purposes of this Regulation, a catastrophic impairment caused by an accident that occurs after September 30, 2003 is,
(a) paraplegia or quadriplegia;
(b) the amputation or other impairment causing the total and permanent loss of use of both arms or both legs;
(c) the amputation or other impairment causing the total and permanent loss of use of one or both arms and one or both legs;
(d) the total loss of vision in both eyes;
(e) subject to subsection (1.4), brain impairment that, in respect of an accident, results in,
(i)    a score of 9 or less on the Glasgow Coma Scale, as published in Jennett, B. and Teasdale, G., Management of Head Injuries, Contemporary Neurology Series, Volume 20, F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, 1981, according to a test administered within a reasonable period of time after the accident by a person trained for that purpose, or
(ii)    a score of 2 (vegetative) or 3 (severe disability) on the Glasgow Outcome Scale, as published in Jennett, B. and Bond, M., Assessment of Outcome After Severe Brain Damage, Lancet i:480, 1975, according to a test administered more than six months after the accident by a person trained for that purpose;
(f)    subject to subsections (1.4), (2.1) and (3), an impairment or combination of impairments that, in accordance with the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th edition, 1993, results in 55 per cent or more impairment of the whole person; or
(g) subject to subsections (1.4), (2.1) and (3), 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) or class 5 impairment (extreme impairment) due to mental or behavioural disorder. O. Reg. 281/03, s. 1 (5).

If an individual meets any of the above criteria they are deemed to have sustained a catastrophic injury.

How does the determination affect the level of benefits?

Under the current version of the SABS, the following coverage is expanded if an individual is “Catastrophic”:

1.    Medical and rehabilitation limits are increased from $100,000 available for 10 years, to a lifetime maximum of $1,000,000;
2.    Attendant care coverage is increased from a maximum of $3,000 per month for two years to $6,000 per month, to a lifetime maximum of $1,000,000;
3.    Housekeeping coverage extends for life; and
4.    Case management services are covered.

Changes under Bill 198

In 2003, the Ontario Government made some changes to the definition of Catastrophic Impairment under Bill 198 that applies to accidents that occur after September 30, 2003.  One of the significant changes can be found in the re-wording of clauses (b) and (c) which included the loss of both arms and both legs, whereas the initial regulations did not include this in the definition.

Another considerable change was made to section 2(2) of the SABS (now 2(2.1) for accidents that occur after September 30, 2003), which focuses on the point in time in which an individual’s injuries can be deemed catastrophic.  The old regulation stated that the insured person’s condition had to have stabilized and was not likely to improve, but the definition is reworded to say that the “insured person’s condition is unlikely to cease to be a catastrophic impairment”.  Moreover, section 2(2) has also been amended to require only two years to have elapsed since the accident as opposed to the three years in the previous version before a catastrophic determination can be made.

2.    Jurisprudence

The severely injured and their families have extensive needs and whether one qualifies for “Catastrophic” under the SABS plays a dramatic role in one’s ability to obtain timely and necessary care.  The likelihood of a severely injured accident victim pursuing maximum recovery to independence will in part depend on the level of services one can obtain.  It is surprising that given what is at stake in obtaining higher level SABS coverage, that there has not been a litany of jurisprudence to interpret widely how the definition should be interpreted.

The definition is clear with respect to interpreting 2(1.1)(a) through (d) as these are objectively determined.  However with respect to 2(1.1)(e) through (g), the assessors must use subjective criteria to make the determination.  This is the area where litigation is most often seen.

Clause (e)(i):  Determination by Glasgow Coma Scale “GCS”

Under this clause of the definition an individual may be deemed under the SABS to have met the “Catastrophic Definition” if they have received a score of nine (9) or less on the GCS, according to a “test administered within a reasonable period of time after the accident and that the test is performed by a person trained for that purpose”.

The GCS measures brain impairment by evaluating the best response of an individual in three areas, being eye response, verbal response and motor response.  A rating is then given on a scale in each category as to whether there was no response to a full response.  This test is useful in determining the level of brain functioning that a person has at a given time.  Whether or not the individual has ultimately sustained a serious or permanent brain injury is not determined by the GCS alone and it does not play a role under subsection (e)(i).  Therefore, although the GCS score could indicate future brain impairment it may very well be that a person who has early low GCS scales will not be permanently impaired and can be perfectly independent.

This definition of Catastrophic Impairment is highly contentious as the GCS can be unreliable, particularly under the following conditions:

1.    Influence of alcohol or narcotics on the GCS score;
2.    Ability to speak English;
3.    Emergency Intubation;
4.    Pre-existing Disability (such as hearing impairment);
5.    Facial injury; and
6.    Other medical factors (such as diabetic, administration of drugs during treatment).

The timing of the reading is also important as set out in the SABS.  The SABS indicate the reading must be “administered within a reasonable period of time after the accident” to be valid.  Some injuries may result in a transient loss of consciousness for a matter of minutes after an accident followed by a full recovery.  Other injuries may provide for a high GCS reading followed by a gradual deterioration which later is determined to reflect a severe brain injury.

In a 2000 private arbitration decision, Unifund v. Fletcher , Arbitrator Robinson concluded that the claimant did not suffer a catastrophic impairment thereby overturning the decision of the assessors who previously found the claimant to be catastrophic.  In Fletcher, GCS scores of 6, 8 and 9 were taken within the first half hour of the accident.  However, the GCS score never fell below 9 after the first half hour following the accident.  The assessors relied only on the first GCS scores of 6 and 8 taken just minutes earlier than the above-9 GCS scores, and the Arbitrator concluded that this approach was incorrect.

Another decision on the issue of GCS is the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (“FSCO”) case of Young v. Liberty Mutua1 .  In this case, Arbitrator Allen was required to review an assessment by a Designated Assessment Centre which determined that the claimant was not catastrophically impaired.  The claimant’s GCS scores were below 9 in the initial 28 minutes of care post-accident before the claimant was intubated.  Arbitrator Allen held that there is no set time for what exactly constitutes a reasonable period of time but that it “must be determined in the context of the particular circumstances of each case”.

Additionally, in the Young case it was noted that the intubation did not occur until well after the initial GCS scores were taken and that the time prior to intubation was a reasonable period of time to make a determination of catastrophic impairment based on the recorded GCS scores.  The arbitrator’s decision in Young was upheld on judicial review .

In Holland v. Pilot , Keenan, J. delivered a judgment in the Superior Court on similar issues involving a 15-year-old pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle.  In this case the plaintiff had ingested both alcohol and marijuana and the main point of contention was whether or not the drugs and alcohol in the plaintiff’s system could have had an adverse affect on the GCS scores therefore rendering them invalid.

While the parties’ experts differed on the influence of drugs and alcohol on the GCS reading, Keenan, J. found in favour of the insured and in doing so he demonstrated a reluctance to deviate from the legislative intent and to rely upon the GCS scores.  He ultimately made the finding that the injured individual met the catastrophic impairment requirement.

In Tournay v. Dominion , the only issue in dispute was whether or not a GCS score recorded on an intubated patient was, in law, a “valid” GCS score.  In this case, during the four hours of her post-accident treatment where GCS scores were conducted, there were a number of GCS scores of less than 9 during both the times she was intubated and while she was not.  There was evidence presented that Ms. Tournay’s daughter recalled that she attempted to wake her mother up “by grabbing her arm and shaking her for approximately 10 minutes”.  Since she did not respond to her attempts, Ms. Tournay’s daughter feared that she had died.  

Arbitrator Kominar heard arguments from the insurer that GCS scores while intubated were valid for medical purposes; they were not valid under the SABS.  Arbitrator Kominar did not believe that the GCS scores should be interpreted differently under the SABS and noted “If the scores, as recorded, were perfectly valid for medical purposes, then they are perfectly valid for purposes of the Schedule”.  As a result, Ms. Tournay was deemed to be catastrophically impaired.

Similarly, in the case of Michalski (Litigation Guardian of) v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. , FSCO Arbitrator Alves noted that the insured person’s GCS scores as recorded by the paramedics and later by the hospital as 3 and 9 respectively.  She ruled that there is a presumption for treating the injured claimant as catastrophic unless there are arguments about whether the test was administered within a reasonable time or by qualified personnel.  A special award was also ruled as against Wawanesa for their failure to recognize the seriousness of the injuries almost two years after the accident.

The most recent Court interpretation on the GCS is the decision of Liu v. 1226071 .  In this case the plaintiff had GCS scores of less than 9 in less than 40 minutes of time, before they rose to 12 and 14 in the 40 and 42 minutes following the accident, respectively.  Wright, J. determined that less than 40 minutes was a reasonable amount of time, however, he felt that the DAC Assessment finding the plaintiff Catastrophically Impaired was in error.  Wright J. felt that since 2003 Mr. Liu (four years after his accident) was able to manage his property, care for himself in terms of nutrition, healthcare, shelter, clothing and hygiene, was capable of making complex decisions and traveled to China twice making his own arrangements, did not suggest to him that he was a Catastrophically Impaired person.  The jury award of $865,000 for future care costs.  Wright J. ordered that since the plaintiff was not “Catastrophic” the future care was not payable.  The case was decided under Bill 59 (accidents from November 1, 1996 until September 30 2003).  Under Bill 59 an individual had to be “Catastrophically Impaired” in order to be able to claim medical expenses.

Jurisprudence shows a trend that a GCS score of 9 or less will continue to favour the designation of catastrophic impairment.  With the exception of Liu and Unifund, insurers have had little success challenging the validity of GCS scores.

Clause (f):  55% or more Whole Body Impairment
Clause (g):  Class 4 or 5 Impairment due to Mental or Behavioural Disorder
Can Clauses (f) and (g) be combined?

The first case to thoroughly examine the definition of clauses (f) and (g) was Desbiens v. Mordini  in 2004.  In this case Speigal, J. was asked to interpret 2(1.1)(f) of the SABS.   Desbiens was the first trial decision in which a plaintiff was found to be Catastrophically Impaired on the basis of one of the definitions of Catastrophic Impairment outlined in the applicable statutes and regulations.  Prior to his accident, Mr. Desbiens was a paraplegic as a result of falling off a roof while in the course of his employment.  Despite his paraplegia, Mr. Desbiens claimed that he was quite independent as he still had the ability to move around in his manual wheelchair and drive his altered vehicle.  He was also able to take care of himself with little assistance.  In fact, very few accommodations were required to his home to facilitate his independence in that regard.

After the motor vehicle accident, Mr. Desbiens claimed to have lost the independence he once had as the new injuries he sustained did not permit him to perform some of the essential tasks he was once able to perform on his own.

The decision states that the AMA Guides clearly anticipate that a given physician’s judgment and discretion will play a role in the assessment of the impairment.  Spiegel J. opined that the AMA Guides should not be applied without consideration of the particular reality of the individual being assessed.

One debate in the Desbiens decision revolved around the fact that based on his physical impairments resulting from the accident, Mr. Desbiens did not meet the requirements of clause (f), 55% WPI.  However, the most contentious part of the Desbiens decision is Spiegel J.’s analysis concerning the combination of physical and psychological impairments to arrive at the 55% WPI.  Essentially, it was argued by plaintiff’s counsel that Mr. Desbiens’ physical and psychological impairments could be combined under clause (f) to determine whether he had a WPI rating that was greater than 55%.

It was Mr. Desbiens’ position that the definition of impairment in the regulations included both psychological and physical impairments and that since clause (f) referred to a combination of impairments and not a combination of just ‘physical’ impairments, both physical and psychological impairments ought to be included in evaluating WPI.

The conclusion of Spiegel J. was that clause (f) was intended to be a ‘catch-all’ provision for the benefit of those who are in the greatest need of health care.  Spiegel J. concluded there was nothing in the legislation to indicate that physical and psychological impairments could not be added.  As he saw it, clause (f) used the wording ‘any’ combination of impairments.  While the definition in clause (g) did not include classes 1-3 psychological impairments, Spiegel J. found that there was nothing to prohibit those mild to moderate classes of psychological impairments from being considered in clause (f) for the purposes of the calculation of 55% WPI rating.  Spiegel J. believed that if the drafters had intended to exclude psychological impairments from clause (f), it could have easily specified that only physical impairments be included.

Desbiens has been followed in subsequent decisions and continues to be the leading Court decision on the issue of calculating WPI.

Another case to consider this issue was McMichael and Belair Insurance .  In McMichael, Arbitrator Muir was faced with the issue of whether or not the claimant had suffered a Catastrophic Impairment pursuant to clauses (f) and (g) of section 2(1) of the SABS. Arbitrator Muir first analyzed the application of clause (g), impairment due to mental and behavioural disorders.  He considered the impact of Desbiens and noted that Desbiens had established that “class 4” impairment in any one of the four areas of functioning was sufficient to establish Catastrophic Impairment.  He concluded McMichael had sustained “class 4” impairment and was therefore Catastrophically Impaired under clause (g).

Arbitrator Muir also considered whether McMichael met the catastrophic definition in clause (f), being whether he had a WPI of 55% or more.  On the basis of his physical impairments alone, Arbitrator Muir found that the claimant did not meet the 55% WPI threshold, but he then considered the issue of combining both physical and psychological impairments to reach the 55% WPI rating as set out in Desbiens.

Belair raised the argument that in Desbiens the Court had expert opinion evidence before it to comment on the translation of qualitative psychological impairment ratings into a WPI rating which was not the case in McMichael.  Arbitrator Muir rejected Belair’s argument and found that the plaintiff did not need an expert’s evidence to determine whether or not it was appropriate to add psychological and physical impairments.  He determined that this was a question involving the interpretation of the SABS.  Arbitrator Muir agreed with the claimant that the SABS required the addition of all impairments to arrive at the appropriate WPI and adopted the Desbiens analysis.  However, he did conclude that there would be some risk of double counting if the claimant’s psychological and physical impairments were added in this case and he therefore did not continue to assign a percentage to the psychological impairments.  While the facts giving rise to the circumstances in Desbiens and McMichael are very different, Arbitrator Muir appeared to have followed the reasoning in Desbiens.

The appeal of McMichael  was heard by Director’s Delegate Makepeace on the issue of the method of assessing Catastrophic Impairment under the SABS and Arbitrator Muir’s decision was ultimately upheld on appeal.  Director’s Delegate Makepeace adopted the statements in Desbiens that the AMA Guides are to be given a “fair, large and liberal” interpretation.  Director’s Delegate noted that ‘impairment’ is defined very broadly under the SABS thereby ensuring that the most seriously impaired claimants may qualify for enhanced benefits, whatever the nature of their impairments.  According to Director’s Delegate Makepeace, the drafters of the legislation created alternative ways of satisfying the Catastrophic Impairment definition to avoid under-inclusiveness and ensure that impairments of equal seriousness are treated equally under the SABS.  The appeal, however, did not consider the issue of combining physical and psychological impairments to arrive at a WPI rating.

In G. v. Pilot Insurance Co  the issue was whether the claimant had sustained a Catastrophic Impairment as per clauses (f) and (g) of the definition in the SABS.  Arbitrator Blackman adopted and followed the reasoning in Desbiens.  The Arbitrator noted that there are arguments to be made that psychological impairments should not be included in a WPI rating but then he rejected each one, stating that clauses (f) and (g) are separated by the word “or” which means that the clauses were meant to be mutually exclusive.  However, Arbitrator Blackman found that this was not the intent of the drafters of the legislation because this would mean that clauses (a) to (g) were mutually exclusive.

The second argument he rejected was the idea that a percentage could not be assigned to psychological impairments.  According to Arbitrator Blackman, he was in agreement with the decisions in McMichael and Desbiens that despite the practical difficulties, all impairments however caused must be included in the WPI.  Arbitrator Blackman stated that an insured person should not be penalized just because medical science lacks an objective means of rating psychological impairments via percentages.

Arbitrator Blackman also noted that the Guides deliberately did not use percentages to estimate mental impairment because of their subjective nature, the dilemma being that clause (f) requires a percentage analysis.  Arbitrator Blackman stated that the SABS provide that if an impairment, or by implication an impairment rating, is not provided, one must then look to a listed impairment most analogous to the impairment sustained.

As in Desbiens, Arbitrator Blackman notes that the 4th edition of the AMA Guides refer to the 2nd edition which provides ranges of percentages that can be applied to the classes of psychological impairments.  He not only assigned percentages to the claimant’s psychological impairments and added them to his physical impairments as in Desbiens, but also added a number of physical impairment ratings that had not been included in the CAT DAC in order to find that the claimant did meet the 55% WPI threshold set out in clause (f) of the Catastrophic Impairment definition.  Director’s Delegate Makepeace on appeal  confirmed the decision.

In P. (B.) v. Primmum  the applicant was involved in a motorcycle accident.  The damage to his right leg was so severe, that his leg was not salvageable and the amputation of his right leg from the knee down was required.  At issue in this case was whether the claimant was Catastrophically Impaired under clause (f) as a result of the amputation of his right leg.  

One of the experts in this case relied on his own interpretation of Desbiens and stressed that the AMA Guides are not a complete guide and that an assessor should exercise clinical judgment to adjust a score upwards.  He found that the claimant met the 55% threshold with an upwards final adjustment.  Additionally, it was argued that discretion lies with the decision maker to make a finding of Catastrophic Impairment in cases where the cost of future treatment exceeded the non-catastrophic limits.  In this case, the cost for future prosthesis and care were well beyond the non-catastrophic limits.  In his reasons, Arbitrator Blackman rejected this approach to the determination of Catastrophic Impairment and stated that:

“I am not persuaded by the … argument that I have discretion to make a finding of catastrophic impairment where the cost of future treatment exceeds the non-catastrophic limits under the Schedule.  That in my view, simply defeats the intent of the legislation that a requisite designation of impairment, in addition to reasonable and necessary need, determines entitlement at a certain monetary level.”

Fundamentally, Arbitrator Blackman did not agree with the opinion of Dr. Ameis that a final adjustment is warranted when examining the wording of the legislation and the AMA Guides.

Ultimately, Arbitrator Blackman followed Desbiens and his own judgment in G. v. Pilot and considered the various experts reports and based on a review of them and the AMA Guides, he attributed various WPI designations to both physical and psychological impairments which exceeded the 55% WPI threshold, therefore determining that the claimant was Catastrophically Impaired.

3.    Conclusion: Will the Cat stay in the Hat?

The “Catastrophic” definition has been in use for over 10 years and has only received a few minor changes by the legislature.  It is predicted that the areas that have been litigated that were highlighted in this paper are likely to face reform in the near future.

Currently, the Ontario Government is undertaking a five-year review on Auto Insurance.  Submissions from various stakeholders can be viewed on their website address: .  

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (“IBC”) has published their submissions which indicate that they have a working group of scientists who have collaborated to review the current evidence used to classify brain injury.  It seems clear that the IBC has targeted the elimination of Clause (e) as it relates to the use of the GCS scale score of 9 for entitlement.  By excluding the GCS score from the “Catastrophic Definition” the government will need to find a substitute measure in its place.  Alternative measures that have been considered reveal evaluations of post traumatic amnesia coupled with a lower score such as 5 or less on the GCS will be required to meet the proposed new definition.  Such strict and subjective measurements are certain to increase litigation costs and raise the uncertainty for entitlement for a much needed group of accident victims.  It is likely that the number of brain-injured accident victims who qualify for Catastrophic Injury under the SABS will drop significantly if such reform is allowed.  

While legislative changes to the Catastrophic Definition are likely in the next few years, the issue of interpretation will remain clouded requiring ongoing litigation.  Jurisprudence to date has favoured a trend of fairness allowing mostly the injured accident victim to succeed.   Insurers have argued to the government that the Courts have broadened the definition which has increased costs to insurers.   These comments do not reflect the reality of the benefit approval process embedded in the SABS.  Ultimately, if an injured accident victim requires medical or attendant care services; the individual is required to submit treatment plans and requests for reimbursement that are subject to the SABS requirement of approval and medical requirement.  The insurers routinely deny various treatment and attendant care request for Catastrophic and Non-Catastrophic claimants alike and thus the designation of Catastrophic does not designate the entitlement without satisfying the needs based test.  Benefits are only paid if they are deemed to be “reasonable and necessary”.  Thus, insurers are misguided by demanding tighter legislation to allow fewer claimants to be declared Catastrophic.

Auto Insurance under the SABS continues to be the subject of reform as we enter the 5th such reform since 1990.  Despite the insurance industry and government trying to strike a balance for a profitable industry and fair reparation system, it is clear that the most seriously injured accident victims needs should be fully indemnified without compromise. For more information visit

Source by Charles Gluckstein

Lawyers Benefit From Lawsuit Funding

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The lawsuit funding business exists to offer clients the ability to financially withstand the litigation process.  The purpose of this article is to explore the ways in which the presence of pre settlement loans help attorneys.

Helping Clients

Because personal injury cases involve very serious medical conditions, plaintiffs frequently are unable to work.  This obviously creates financial pressure on individuals since their expenses still must be paid.  Disability and/or workers compensation benefits are often not available for these victims and are therefore of little help to plaintiffs.  In cases where those benefits are available, they are often woefully insufficient to cover all of plaintiff’s obligations.

I doubt any personal injury lawyer, in any jurisdiction, has not had a client ask him for money to help pay the bills while the case is pending.  Yet most state ethical rules prohibit attorneys from loaning/advancing their clients money in anticipation of a favorable outcome in their case.  Some states allow attorneys to do so, but the money must be advanced without interest.  Until the pre settlement loan business, plaintiffs simply had to hold on or worse, had to accept a lower settlement than they would have if they were not under such financial pressure.

The purpose of lawsuit funding is to help plaintiffs meet their obligations while the case is being litigated.  Clients, and by extension their counsel, are relieved of immediate financial pressure.  The case can then be litigated properly, thoroughly, and to maximum value.

Cost Analysis

Now an argument can be made that the cost of lawsuit funding outweighs any available increase in settlement value.  And it is true that lawsuit loans carry higher interest rates than car loans or other traditional forms of financing.  But analyzing only interest rates is a narrow way of looking at what lawsuit funding actually achieves for clients and their attorneys.

Simply put, whatever the situation the client is in, he is in that situation.  So the question then becomes how to help lessen the burden or otherwise better the client’s situation?

When it comes to a cost/benefit analysis, what is the value of a plaintiff keeping a roof over his head?

What would be the fees/penalties if he was forced to default on his mortgage, rent or any other obligation?

Further, since there are no restrictions on the use of the cash, plaintiffs are free to use the money as they see fit – including using the advance to make more money.  Frequently, clients use money obtained from lawsuit funding for other business opportunities.

The point is – true cost cannot be measured in general terms?  Each client brings with him a unique set of circumstances and needs so it cannot accurately be said that obtaining cash against a lawsuit is more/less costly than any other means of finding funds.

Maximum Settlement Value and More Business

Attorneys also benefit from increased case value when clients are not forced to accept less than they deserve in settlement.  Since attorneys fees are a percentage of the ultimate award for damages, attorneys see an increase in fees.  More importantly, the client is more likely to be satisfied by the final result.  This enhances the attorney’s reputation and often helps out in the settlement of other cases.

In the personal injury game, word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing.  Repeat business is derived from a successful outcomes in cases.  Life long clients are the life blood of any business.  Law practices are no different.  Clients are likely to retain counsel who is attentive to their wants, needs, and necessities.  Likewise, clients are more likely to refer their friends and family not to the attorney who scoffs at the notion of paying 35% per year in interest, but to the lawyer who will go the extra mile to help.

The bottom line is the lawsuit funding industry helps clients who want and need help.  And by helping clients, the  lawsuit funding business helps attorneys.

Thank you for your interest in the lawsuit funding business.


Source by Fair Rate Funding