Empty seats in a civil jury box in a courthouse

Now Is The Time To Eliminate Civil Jury Trials For Most Personal Injury Cases: A Call For Change.

As I write this, Ontario is in the midst of a third wave of the Covid-19 virus – this time with more contagious variants that are infecting younger people. Ontario is working on getting vaccines into arms but this takes time and vaccines. On April 7, 2021, the Ontario Government declared a third state of emergency and a Stay-At-Home order along with strict lockdown restrictions.

What does this have to do with civil jury trials?

Over the past 14 months, NO civil jury trials have taken place. I personally had one civil jury trial cancelled due to the pandemic. Many, if not most, personal injury lawyers are in the same boat – civil jury trials being cancelled. This is not fair to our clients who have been waiting years to get their cases resolved. Over the time of the pandemic, our court administration has worked very hard to bring the court process into the 21st century and we now have the ability to conduct virtual civil trials. But. there's a catch. These virtual civil trials involve only a judge.

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A calendar and hourglass with blue sand indicating time running out.

What Is A Limitation Period And What Does It Mean For Civil Claims In Ontario?

Most people are familiar with the term "statute of limitations", but what does it mean? The concept is that after a certain period of time following an event, incident, breach of contract, medical malpractice, injury, accident or collision there is a limited period of time within which a person can bring a legal claim. Civil claims are provincial matters. In Ontario, the deadline to bring a legal action is governed by the Limitations Act, 2002. The basic limitation period in Ontario is two years. This means that a person must file a claim with the civil court within 2 years of the event.

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Broken cement illustrating the broken auto insurance system in Ontario

Auto Insurance In Ontario: A Broken System.

Two stories in the news last week highlight the broken nature of the automobile insurance system in Ontario.

The first story was about Intact Financial, the second largest provider of auto insurance in Ontario. Intact Financial reported an increase in operating income for Q4 in 2020 of 54 percent. This translates to a rise in operating income to the tune of $467 million. For the entire year of 2020, Intact reported profits of more than $1 billion – that is with a “B” as in billion.

That is a lot of money.

I have no problem with a business making money. The problem I have is how auto insurers, like Intact, treat those that are injured in car crashes and how the insurance industry cries poor to the government forcing them to slash benefits and impose limitations on those innocently injured in car collisions.

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Legal files such as those pertaining to Bill 218

Why Are We Protecting Negligent Businesses?

Last week the Ontario government introduced legislation that would unfairly protect negligent businesses that fail to take proper measures to protect people from Covid-19. Bill 218, dubiously named, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, will protect long-term care homes where thousands of Ontarians died or became very ill from Covid-19. A copy of the bill can be reviewed here.

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Judges gavel like those used in sentencing people to provincial jails in Ontario

Are We Safer With Fewer People In Jail? COVID19 Highlights Issues With The Incarceration Of Non-Violent, Low Risk Inmates

As the COVID19 pandemic drags on and we approach six months since the last time Ontario courthouses were open to the general public, it is worth reflecting on what the lasting effects of the pandemic will be on the justice system.  In previous posts, the Bonn Law blog has addressed the technological changes that COVID19 has forced upon the justice system. Physical distancing measures have forced lawyers and to embrace video conferencing, digital document exchange and other much needed reforms.

Another lesson that we can learn from the COVID19 pandemic is the necessity of releasing nonviolent offenders prior to trial.

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