Wolfe Lawyers Personal Injury Law
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Life Insurance Payout Denied

Some life insurance policies include an exclusion where the policy holder has died while committing a crime or died "as a result of" criminal activity. In such circumstances payout under the policy will be denied by the insurer.

This is precisely what happened to Vanessa Valentyne when she sought payment under her son's life insurance policy from The Canada Life Assurance Company. Vanessa's son, Kevin, was a known drug dealer. In 2013 he was out for lunch with his girlfriend when he was summoned to a house by two of his associates. He drove to the location and left his girlfriend in the running car while he stepped inside the house. He was never seen or heard from again.

Four years later, a British Columbia Supreme Court justice has upheld the insurer's refusal to issue payment under the policy on the grounds that the exclusion applied: "I need only be satisfied on a balance of probabilities that his death was a result of his involvement in criminal activity," wrote Justice Catherine Murray. "The only rational conclusion is that Mr. Valentyne was murdered as a result of his involvement in drug trafficking, a criminal offence."

You can read more about the interesting facts underlying this decision here and here.
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The Dangers of Pool Entrapment

Pool entrapment occurs when a swimmer becomes trapped due to pump suction, ladders, filters or drains. Resulting injuries can be very serious and may include death by drowning, evisceration or disembowelment. Unfortunately, pool entrapment remains a somewhat hidden danger. Parents and swimmers don’t often think of the issue.

Possibly the most widely-known case of pool entrapment occurred in the United States. A 7 year old girl named Virginia became trapped due to suction from a spa drain. The suction held her under the water and despite her parent’s efforts to rescue her, she drowned. The United States has since enacted the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act which aims to implement safety initiatives to pool and spa facilities.

Canadian standards are put in place to help educate, govern and warn swimmers of pool entrapment. Health Canada and other resources speak to the overall sensible use of water facilities and owner responsibilities. National safety standards ask that “every owner and every operator shall ensure that they identify and render safe all hazards related to underwater entrapment and suction points within the swimming pool.”

It is important that pool owners/operators, parents and swimmers alike are educated, understand the associated risks and know how to take preventative measures. Measures may include:

  1. Properly inspecting the pool drains and systems to ensure they are modernized and safe and that older, dangerous models are replaced

  1. Educating all swimmers to stay away from pool and spa drains, pipes and other protrusions and openings

  1. Educating all swimmers to tie their hair back and remove loose clothing and jewelry before swimming
The summer is here and the weather is hot. Make sure to consider safety precautions, especially with children, when enjoying the water.
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Out Of Country Injuries

Traveling out of the country to take a break from work or nasty winter weather is usually an exciting and refreshing experience. However, accidents can occur anywhere. The injured traveler would be surprised to learn of the many difficulties faced when attempting to recover financial compensation for his or her losses. The standard of care varies from country to country. Bringing a claim against a hotel/resort or medical practitioner can come with many unforeseen roadblocks.

Some countries prohibit personal injury claims altogether; while others adopt a very short time period during which a claim can be made. It is important that travellers consult a local lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer should be well-versed in the personal injury compensation system in that jurisdiction.

In certain circumstances it is possible to sue a foreign hotel/resort in Ontario for an injury sustained out of the country. The court will look to see if certain criteria are present in deciding whether to assume jurisdiction. This criteria was set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in the decision of Van Breda v. Club Resorts Ltd. As a side note, there are also difficulties in claiming against tour providers or operators located in Ontario. Though they may operate in the province, they are seldom found liable for these types of incidents as they typically have no control over the hotel or resort.

Shoulder Injuries From Slip and Fall Accidents

There are many injuries that are possible when you are involved in a slip-and-fall accident. The way that you land and the effects of the jarring motion might lead to shoulder separation. This is a painful condition that can range from minor to severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the shoulder's structures.

A severe shoulder separation involves the ligaments around the shoulder being torn. In this case, the separated shoulder would be easily noticed by looking at the area. A mid-grade shoulder separation occurs when there is some misalignment in the joint due to a slight tear or sprain to the ligaments. A mild shoulder separation occurs when one ligament is sprained and the injury isn't noticed externally. Typically, an x-ray of a mild separation would appear normal.

The treatment for a separated shoulder depends on the extent of the injury and the effects it is having on the patient. Non-surgical treatments are usually preferred; however, if the injury is severe or the pain is persistent after the injury, surgery might be necessary.

Non-surgical treatments include using ice packs, slings and medications while the area heals. Other treatments might also be necessary.

One thing that is universal for shoulder separations is that rehabilitation is required. The goals of rehabilitation are to get back the flexibility, range of motion and strength.

Seeking compensation for a shoulder separation after a slip-and-fall accident might be something to consider. This could help you to get the financial backing you need to afford the rehabilitation and medical treatments that are recommended as part of the healing process.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, "Shoulder Separation," accessed Sep. 23, 2016.

Damages in Auto Accident Cases Must Be Carefully Considered

The injuries that a person can suffer in a auto accident can range from a minor scratch to a life-threatening injury. In almost all cases of injuries in car accidents, the person who is injured requires medical care for those injuries. When the accident was the result of another driver's poor decisions, you shouldn't have to be on the hook for the financial impact of the injuries. Seeking compensation can put the liability back where it belongs — with the other at-fault driver.

Seeking compensation after a car accident isn't a way to look for easy money. Instead, compensation is a way that you can try to recoup the money that you are out-of-pocket in connection with the accident. It is also money that you can use for future expenses that you might incur because of the accident.

One of the largest expenses you are likely to have after a motor vehicle crash is your medical care. This is especially true if you suffered a serious or catastrophic injury. The medical care costs go far beyond the initial emergency department visit. These costs also include the ambulance fees, return doctor visits, consultations with specialists, therapy sessions and similar costs.

Besides the cost of your medical care, you might also be out-of-pocket for wages that you weren't able to earn because of your injuries. You can include wages already missed and wages you will miss in the future.

If you are looking into a claim for compensation, you should make sure that you are aware of the various types of damages for which you might be compensated. This is one component of your case that must be carefully considered because it can impact the final award you receive for your case.

Source: FindLaw, "What Kinds of Damages May I Claim for Car Accident Injuries?", accessed Aug. 11, 2016.
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