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Why we “stay in our lane” when it comes to advertising

You’re in traffic, stuck between a pickup truck in front of you and a city bus behind.

As you tap your steering wheel in annoyance, you think about the five-foot-wide ad you saw plastered across the side of the bus earlier, extolling the skills of a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accidents.

The pickup takes off, stops suddenly– and you are rear ended by the bus.

Who are you going to call?

Your instinct might be to take advantage of the massive ad on the side of the bus. After all, it’s right there, and the guy deals with this kind of stuff, right?

Maybe…but the bigger question is this: How is a client supposed to view the relationship between a lawyer who advertises on the city-owned bus system, when that lawyer then must sue the entity that owns it? Are they in business together or truly at arm’s length?

Over the past few years, our lawyers have represented clients suing OC Transpo and the City of Ottawa for damages. First, it was the deeply traumatic Barrhaven Via Rail/OC Transpo incident and then the deadly Westboro Transit station OC Transpo crash. In addition, have we represented clients in slip and fall claims against the City of Ottawa.

For our clients, there is no doubt that we are representing their best interests.

We do not promote our firm’s services on city-owned buses or any other city-owned property, for that matter. Whether it is a bus-vehicle accident or a slip-and-fall claim in front of City Hall, we want our clients to be confident that there is no blurring of the line business advertising and their best interests.

For us, that’s not just a matter of good business. It’s about honouring the trust our clients put in us.

Auger Hollingsworth in the Community: Weekend Getaway in Chelsea Raffle

Auger Hollingsworth is proud to sponsor the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre Foundation’s “Exclusive Luxury Weekend Raffle.” The raffle offers you a chance to win a relaxing, exclusive, luxurious weekend getaway for you and seven girlfriends in Chelsea, Quebec, during Gatineau Park’s stunning fall colour change. The raffle winner will enjoy two nights at the Pepper Pod (October 15-17, 2021). This charming cabin operates traditionally as a retreat centre for women Veterans and hosts eight double beds in a cozy pyjama-party type bedroom. You will start your girls’ weekend in style and luxury by chauffeured limo to, from and for all scheduled activities around your destination. Celebrate with bubbly, mouth-watering treats and decadent snacks all through the weekend, with a special Friday lunch prepared by Chef Yannick La Salle of Les Fougeres. Other highlights include a celebrity fireside chat, a guided hike through Gatineau Park, and Spa Nordik passes.

The tickets are on sale online for $100 until September 15 at 3:00 pm. The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre is Ontario’s largest and most progressive long-term care home. It is also an innovative Seniors Village with 139 independent-living apartments and a 12-bed Guest House providing respite care. The Perley Rideau serves as a hub for all seniors and mainly benefits those isolated or socially frail. Residents of both the Health Centre and the apartments enjoy ready access to a full range of clinical and therapeutic services, along with social and recreational activities and programs. By supporting the Foundation, you will help the Perley Rideau ensure that excellent resident care, comfort, safety and services are always accessible for the 450 residents, including 250 veterans who call the Perley Rideau home. Donors fund everything from essential equipment to the therapeutic music program and art studios. With your support, the Perley Rideau continues to be a thriving Ottawa Health Centre that delivers top-quality care in a personalized and compassionate manner.

Tax Credits Grants to Help With Your Renovation

After an injury, many of our clients require modifications to their houses to make them more accessible. These modifications are essential for maintaining our clients’ to maintain their lifestyles and independence. However, these home renovations can be costly. The following article, reprinted by permission from Kyla Cullain of BuildAble.ca, provides an excellent summary of some tax credits and grants offered by the government, which can help you save money while making your home more accessible.

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Making our homes safe and accessible is incredibly important in maintaining our independence, our health and well-being. Unfortunately, there are still costs associated with transforming our homes into safe spaces.  We’ve compiled a small list below of available tax credits that can help ease some of the expenses.

Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)

This is a federal tax credit for those renovating their home to make it safe and accessible.

The Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC) is for eligible individuals with disabilities (qualified for the disability tax credit) and/or for individuals who are 65 years of age or older at the end of the year.   The HATC applies to total qualifying expenses up to $10,000 per year, resulting in a maximum tax credit of $1,500 ($10,000 x 15%).

The HATC is claimed when filing your annual tax return – so make sure you hang on to all of your receipts/documentation from BuildAble to receive your return!

A qualifying renovation is a renovation or alteration that is of an enduring nature and is integral to the eligible dwelling (including the land that forms part of the eligible dwelling). Examples that should qualify:

  • Grab bars and safety rails
  • Replacing a bathtub with a roll-in shower, accessible shower or tub cuts
  • Step-in or walk-in bathtub
  • Wheelchair lifts
  • Non-slip flooring or anti-slip treatments
  • Switching to lever style handles or faucets
  • Widening your doorways
  • Labour costs from professionals
  • Permits for construction, and building plans
  • Building materials and fixtures
  • Outdoor or indoor ramps
  • Lowering kitchen or bathroom cabinets so the person can use them
  • Equipment rentals and more

 

Click here to read more about the HATC from the Government of Canada, and for further information on eligibility, qualifying renovations and filing.

Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC)

You may have an eligible renovation that also qualifies as a medical expense. If so, you can claim both the federal Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) AND the home accessibility tax credit (HATC). While these costs to renovate or alter a home to accommodate the use of a wheelchair may qualify as medical expenses,  types of expenses related to other types of impairment may also qualify. In all cases, keep receipts and any other related documents to support your claim. Read more here.

 

The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit (Ontario) – 2021 ONLY

The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit will help you make your home safer and more accessible, helping you stay in your home longer. This is eligible for:

  • seniors who are 65 by the end of 2021
  • people who live with senior relatives

The Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit is worth 25% of up to $10,000 in eligible expenses for a senior’s principal residence in Ontario. The maximum credit is $2,500.

You can claim the credit on your 2021 Income Tax and Benefit Return.

https://www.ontario.ca/page/seniors-home-safety-tax-credit

Note: If you are 65 years or older, you may be able to claim the (1) HATC, the (2) METC; and the (3) Seniors’ Home Safety Tax Credit for the same renovation or accessibility modifications!  We encourage you to reach out to your financial planner and/or accountant to discuss.

 

The Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. An individual may claim the disability amount once they are eligible for the DTC. This amount includes a supplement for persons under 18 years of age at the end of the year.

The purpose of the DTC is to provide for greater tax equity by allowing some relief for disability costs, since these are unavoidable additional expenses that other taxpayers don’t have to face.

Note: If you are eligible for the DTC, you may be able to claim both the (1) HATC, AND the (2) METC for the same renovation or accessibility modifications!

We encourage you to reach out to your financial planner and/or accountant to discuss.

 

Ontario Assistive Device Program

While this isn’t applicable to renovations – it’s important to be aware of the Assistive Devices Program, which provides consumer centered support and funding to Ontario residents who have long-term physical disabilities and to provide access to personalized assistive devices appropriate for the individual’s basic needs.

Devices covered by the program are intended to enable people with physical disabilities to increase their independence through access to assistive devices responsive to their individual needs. Initial access is often through a medical specialist or general practitioner who provides a diagnosis. In most device categories, an authorizer assesses the specific needs of the person and prescribes appropriate equipment or supplies.

 

Easter Seals

Easter Seals Ontario provides programs and services to children and youth with physical disabilities across Ontario to help them achieve greater independence, accessibility and integration.

 

March of Dimes

Funded by the government of Ontario, the Home and Vehicle Modification® Program helps people living in Ontario pay for crucial renovations and retrofits. This includes anything from widening doorways for a wheelchair to modifying a van so someone who uses an assistive device can drive it. The goal is to keep people at home and in their communities.

Find out more about the application process, and whether you’re eligible, here to go to the HVMP – How to Apply page.

March of Dimes Canada Assistive Devices Program assists adults with physical disabilities who are in financial need to purchase assistive devices that increase their mobility and functional independence.

 

Other potential savings or rebates (for accessible or non-accessible renovations):

 

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

The GST/HST new housing rebate allows an individual to recover some of the GST or the federal part of the HST paid for a new or substantially renovated house that is for use as the individual’s, or their relation’s, primary place of residence, when all of the other conditions are met.

 

Substantial Renovations and the GST/HST New Housing Rebate

The new housing rebate applies to the purchase, construction or substantial renovation of a residential complex. Even though the rebate is called the “new” housing rebate, individuals who substantially renovate their existing homes may be eligible to claim it (in addition to individuals who construct new homes or purchase them from builders).

 

Home Efficiency Rebate

The Home Efficiency Rebate can help lower your energy costs and make it more comfortable year-round. Get up to $5,000 in rebates for insulation, air sealing, new windows/doors, water heaters, boilers, furnaces and home energy assessments.

10 Things You Can Send Your Personal Injury Lawyer Right Now to Increase the Value of Your Case

Following an injury, there are probably a lot of questions going through your head. Contacting the lawyers of Auger Hollingsworth can help you get some peace of mind. One of the first things your lawyer will likely ask to help build your case is to provide all the documentation you have regarding the accident. This crucial step allows us to paint a complete picture and ensures that you receive the most money possible for your injuries. Here are some quick and easy things you can send to your lawyer right now to help them get started on your case:

  1. Photos of the accident scene. This includes any damaged property, road conditions, street signs and any other pictures you took at the accident scene.
  2. Names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident, including the person who drove you home from the scene.
  3. Photos of any physical signs of your injury, however small. This includes all, cuts, bumps or bruises resulting from your injury.
  4. Photos of you in the 18 months before the accident doing activities.
  5. Photos (copies) of any awards, certificates, trophies, medals, letters of thanks relating to accomplishments before the accident.
  6. Names of anyone who can describe the impact of the accident on your activities, work, parenting, housekeeping.
  7. Evidence of your planned retirement date such as documents to or from your financial planner or accountant.
  8. Cell / text message records that establish you were not using your phone at the time of the incident
  9. Receipts for any expenses incurred because of the incident. This includes any prescriptions, medical, transportation or anything else you had to pay out of pocket because of your injury.
  10. Any job applications (or competitions entered) made in the 3 years before the incident that support a claim that you were looking for a job / career enhancement.

New Rules for Contingency Fees

Most people who hire personal injury lawyers choose to pay a percentage of the settlement to the law firm rather than paying an hourly rate. This is known as a contingency fee. Your contract with the law firm is called a contingency fee agreement.

Starting July 1, 2021, the Law Society of Ontario has required all law firms offering contingency fees to use a standard form agreement. In compliance with this requirement, Auger Hollingsworth has adopted the Law Society’s contingency agreement.

Under the requirements law firms must now:

-disclose the maximum contingency fee percentage charged in certain circumstances

-provide potential clients with the standard form consumer guide entitled Contingency Fees: What you need to know

-provide certain fee-related reporting to clients on completion of the agreement.

Our fees as set out in the contingency fee agreement are as follows:

Tort Case - Claim Against the At Fault Driver 
IFTHEN
We settle your tort case before the examination for discovery. The fee will be 25% + HST
We settle your tort case after the examination for discovery but before the pretrial. The fee will be 28% + HST
We settle your tort case after pretrial but before commencement of trial.The fee will be 30% + HST
We settle or win your tort case after the commencement of trial.The fee will be 33% + HST

 

Accident Benefit Claim 
IFTHEN
We settle your accident benefit claim without an arbitration.The fee will be 25% + HST
The court or License Appeal Tribunal hears your case and orders that you receive an award or the case settles during the LAT arbitration. The fee will be 33% + HST

 

Personal Injury (Non-MVA) Including Slip and Fall, Trip and Fall and Other Injuries 
IFTHEN
We settle your tort case before the examination for discovery. The fee will be 25% + HST
We settle your tort case after the examination for discovery but before the pretrial. The fee will be 28% + HST
We settle your case after pretrial but before commencement of trial.The fee will be 30% + HST
We settle or win your tort after the commencement of trial.The fee will be 33% + HST

 

Long Term Disability 
IFTHEN
We settle your case before the mediation or examination for discovery. The fee will be 25% + HST
We settle your case after the examination for discovery or mediation but before the pretrial. The fee will be 28% + HST
We settle your case after pretrial but before commencement of trial.The fee will be 30% + HST
We settle or win your case after the commencement of trial.The fee will be 33% + HST

To find our more about Contingency Fee Agreements, read the Law Society of Ontario’s Consumer Guide to Contingency Fees.

The consumer guide asks some important questions for potential clients looking for the right firm to meet you needs.  Auger Hollingsworth’s answers to these important questions are here.

Meet Our Star Associate Lawyer: Calla Rose

Associate lawyer, Calla Rose, is a shining example of a woman who embraces the legal profession with determination and zeal. In 2019, while running her busy practice, she went on maternity leave and completed her LLM with top marks during that period. Upon returning to her practice – with no cases at hand – she rebuilt her clientele, negotiated settlements for more than 50 clients and skillfully handled more than 150 files in the pandemic while raising a toddler with limited childcare support. Her outstanding track record to date includes the successful conclusion of several catastrophic claims cases and complex liability cases. Most notably, she advocated for a client’s determination of Catastrophic Impairment (CAT) by her Accident Benefits provider for injuries initially declared minor by her insurer. At the outset of this case, she was a first-year lawyer and, over several years, built the case and secured the funds necessary to fund the client’s recovery.

From volunteering at a local community newspaper and fundraising for the Ottawa Foodbank to volunteering with the Ottawa Sharing and Caring Exchange, Calla Rose has demonstrated the depth of her character with generosity to Ottawa, where she is on the Traffic and Safety Committee for her community association. Her volunteerism spans several key areas of need – food security being at the forefront – but she has also volunteered to help nascent lawyers as a judge in the popular CCLA Law Day for elementary students. She has volunteered and worked pro bono for Reach Canada and contributed countless hours to Ottawa Lawyers Feed the Hungry. Overseas, Calla has also raised money for a women’s shelter in Iceland through a marathon run.

A successful personal injury law practice is based not only on expertise but also on clients’ well-being and satisfaction. Calla takes this approach with grace and ease, building client trust and security through a highly skilled approach to interpersonal communication. She involves clients in every step of the case process, encourages queries and offers them insight and teachable moments throughout. Her approach also involves an admirable level of creative thinking about presenting and strengthening a client’s case.

June Ends with Two Positive Decisions for Personal Injury Clients

It’s easy to be jaded as a personal injury lawyer in Ontario.

Between 2010 and 2018, there were 17 changes made to auto insurance in our province and 16 of them made life worse, not better, for accident victims.

Tort insurers have taken rigid positions on negotiation of smaller cases which are not made on a rational risk assessment basis. Insurers stand their ground on these cases just because they feel they can, not because their position is correct.

Likewise, accident benefit insurers who now only must cover benefits for 5 years, stretch out all decision-making times to minimize the number of treatment plans that can be submitted.

But today I feel a lot of hope thanks to two favourable court decisions released last week.

1. Persaud v. Bascom 2021 ONSC 4398 – It’s a threshold not a barricade

In Persaud, released June 18, 2021, Justice Ferguson recognized that limitations in a person’s activities of everyday living were enough to meet the threshold for damages for pain and suffering in the Insurance Act.

This is an important development since in recent years certain insurers have taken an approach that only impairments approaching the catastrophic level of injury will satisfy the threshold. Justice Ferguson holds the test in the legislation is just not that hard. As he states:

The plaintiff’s impairments are serious in that they prevent him from engaging in activities that are important to the usual activities of daily living, considering his age. They have interfered with his activities of daily living, housekeeping, home maintenance, playing with his grandchildren, going to the park, and walking in his neighbourhood. These things were very important to the plaintiff.

Dr. Nesathurai testified that the plaintiff was unable to perform many activities around the household due to his pain arising from the injuries sustained in the motor vehicle collision. Dr. Nesathurai also testified that the plaintiff was not able to engage in certain recreational activities with his grandchildren which had been very important to him. Although he still drives, his driving has diminished. Even with the daily use of medications and extensive therapy, the plaintiff’s pain continues. It curtails a significant number of activities that the plaintiff was able to do prior to the accident and the pain has resulted in the plaintiff isolating himself from other people. The plaintiff’s wife, daughter and son in law also testified as to these restrictions and I accept their evidence.

This case is great news for plaintiffs in car accident cases who have been frustrated by insurers who refuse to pay based on an interpretation of the law that is just not supportable.

2. Moore v. 7595611 Canada Corp. 2021 ONCA 459 — Justice for wrongful death

One of the hardest discussions personal injury lawyers have with clients is the discussion where we explain how low the damages are for wrongful death cases. It has been truly an awful experience explaining to grieving loved ones that the compensation for the loss of your child or spouse is unlikely to get to $200,000.

We took these clients through the existing case law, and explained the court’s rationale, but it never felt good, or right.

In Moore, released June 25, 2021, the Court of Appeal recognized the horror of the loss of a child and upheld a jury award of $250,000 per parent for loss of care, guidance and companionship following the death of their 24-year-old daughter.

The court held:

[W]hile the jury award was undoubtedly high, it was not “so inordinately high” that it would “shoc[k] the conscience of the court”…In the circumstances of this case, there is therefore no basis to interfere with the jury’s award of $250,000 for loss of care, guidance, and companionship damages to each respondent.

This case will have an immediate and profound impact on wrongful death cases across Ontario and is most welcome. While there is no amount of money that truly compensates for the loss of a loved one, the previous amounts awarded often felt like a slap in the face to deserving family members who lost a loved one through someone else’s negligence.

Motor Vehicle Accident Case Study: Stephen

Stephen, a husband and father in his late 20s, had been drinking at a bar with a friend. Afterwards, he got in the car with his friend. His friend was intoxicated and crashed the car into a cement wall. When police arrived, they found Stephen bleeding profusely. He showed signs of facial trauma and a broken leg. The ambulance rushed him to the trauma centre.

Stephen’s Traumatic Injuries

Stephen required 15 hours of surgery and remained in intensive care for almost 3 weeks. Stephen suffered many serious injuries and was diagnosed with cognitive communication deficit. Stephen needed multiple therapies and rehab and was referred to an acquired brain injury clinic.

How Our Firm Helped Stephen

A colleague of Stephen’s wife recommended us to Stephen. Stephen contacted our firm while he was still in the rehab centre.

Our team ensured that Stephen’s Statutory Accident Benefit Claim was started and that he was labeled as catastrophically injured. We assembled a rehab team to prepare Stephen for his eventual discharge. We ensured that his home could accommodate his injuries. With our help, all of Stephen’s care was funded through his Statutory Accident Benefits.

Stephen’s Lawsuit

Stephen did not have car insurance to cover the loss, but our team located an insurance policy that followed the owner of the vehicle. We also sued the bar that overserved Stephen and the driver. The case proceeded to examination for discovery. Our team helped Stephen prepare for this. Stephen went to a neuropsychologist for an opinion of his recovery and a prognosis. This report supported that he was unlikely to be competitively employable.

The case did not resolve at mediation; the gap was too wide. Our lawyers continued to fight for Stephen. We ultimately achieved a seven-figure settlement that would provide him with the security he and his family needed.

Long-Term Disability

The Long-Term Disability company cut Stephen off its benefit after Stephen enrolled in school as part of his rehab program. Our firm sued the company, and the claim settled successfully for a lump sum.

A Tribute to Dads

Every client who walks through our door has a story to tell and had a life before an accident changed everything.

This month, and on June 20th in particular, we honour the fathers who have suffered serious injuries but have persevered for the sake of their kids. For example, we think of Carlos who suffered a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle struck a building. A brand-new father, he spent months away from his new baby and wife while he worked on recovery. The family of three spent Baby’s First Christmas in the Ottawa Rehab Centre. Five years later, against all odds, Carlos had a college diploma and a meaningful future thanks in part to his settlement. In large measure, he wanted to be someone for his daughter. And he is. Happy Father’s Day Carlos.

We honour the fathers who have received the unthinkable call– from the police or the hospital. Their child has been severely injured. For example, we think of Samson whose son suffered a life altering spinal cord injury. Samson and his wife Dorothy gave everything they had to make their son’s life all that it could be. Although nearing retirement after a bone wearying career, Samson would work all day and then travel to his son’s home to provide care all night. There is nothing that father would not do for his son. Happy Father’s Day Samson!

“Fathers are men who dared to place the world’s hopes and dreams in their children.”

Happy Father’s Day.

Motor Vehicle Accident Case Study: John

3-year-old John’s life was significantly changed one day, while crossing the street on his way to the local splash pad in Cornwall. The child was walking roughly 10 meters behind his mother when he was struck by a van. Paramedics arrived on scene and noted head/brain trauma as John’s primary injuries. John was distraught and bleeding from his head. The paramedics score John as a 13/15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. They transported him to the hospital in Cornwall for further assessment.

At hospital, his GCS was reassessed at 10/15, putting him at greater risk of falling into a coma. A CT scan showed a small contusion and a small hematoma on his right frontal lobe. He was intubated and sedated with a combination of Ketamine and Succinylcholine for the two days following the accident. X-rays of his shoulder showed a minor fracture of his left clavicle. Over the next few days at the hospital, his situation deteriorated and he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and placed in the pediatric intensive care unit.

John’s quality of life was significantly disrupted by the collision. From a behavioral and social perspective, he now gets very emotional and often shows a lack of remorse. The collision disrupted his childhood and delayed his development. As John gets older, his impairment will likely be magnified and his ability to live a normal life will be limited. So far, John has undergone several blocks of speech and language therapy. He also had to significantly alter his schooling. He no longer participates in recreational activities, gym class, or daily recess at school.

Our firm helped John and his family receive compensation based on his inability to work for the rest of his life, his future need of attendant care, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. We also helped his father receive compensation based on his wages forgone to care for his son. Our firm filed a lawsuit against the driver of the car and an accident benefits claim against the insurance company. We hired an engineer to recreate the accident scene, based off photos and other evidence provided by the police.

They concluded that the car was travelling between 25-46km/hr in a school zone. The engineers established that the driver had enough time to stop and brake safely, had she been paying attention. The case did not settle at mediation, as both parties could not agree on a fair amount of compensation. At pre-trial, a judge assessed the case and recommended the defendants offer our client more money. John and his family were happy to receive both an accident benefits and a lawsuit settlement. The money means that they no longer must worry about an uncertain financial future resulting from the accident.

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