Author: Clarke Law

5 Tips For The Safest Home Skating Rink

Backyard-RinkEnjoying the backyard skating rink.

With the winter deep-freeze is upon us, some homeowners are heating up plans for backyard skating rinks or already have them built! These rinks are neighbourhood fixtures for kids to team up for a game of hockey or to step on the ice for the first time.

Despite the magical moments that an ice rink may bring, skating on a backyard ice rink involves the risk of injury and in turn liabilities for the rink-owner.

Ice-skating is a great activity to fill the long winter months and a pastime that the whole family can enjoy with each other or friends. This being said, it’s important that the rights steps are taken in order to keep your rink as safe as possible for everyone using it.

To keep things safe and you free of potential legalities, we suggest taking the following precautions when planning, making, or maintaining your home rink.

  1. Don’t skate alone: It’s important to always have at least two people present when using the rink and that adults are always actively supervising children who are using the ice.
  2. Protection: Make sure all skaters wear helmets! Also, extra padding is recommended for the younger skaters who are more prone to slips and falls when on the ice.
  3. Have lots of lighting: To ensure that everyone can see where they’re going when getting on/off the rink and while skating it’s very important that you put adequate lighting in place. In doing so, you need to also be sure that all extension cords are placed far away from skates, shovels, and water/ice.
  4. Think property: After flooding the rink, you should turn off water flow to outside taps to prevent frozen pipes with the colder temperatures. In addition, building the rink in an area that will drain away from the house when it thaws in the spring will help avoid water backups.
  5. Constant inspection: Before and in-between uses, check the surface for ridges and holes and frequently clear and flood the rink to keep it secure for all skaters.

By using these tips into ice rink preparations and maintenance measures, skaters can glide through the winter chill and leave the season with warm memories!

What To Do If Your Pet Bites Someone

Guilty-dogAny pet is capable of biting.

Most pet owners understand that with owning a pet comes risks. One of these risks is that your pet will bite someone. This is one of the greatest fears for any pet owner as any pet no matter their temperament or training is capable of biting. This is why it’s so important to know how to properly handle the situation to avoid health and legal problems.

If your pet has bitten someone here is what you should do to best handle the situation:

Remove Your Animal – If your pet has bitten someone the first thing you should do is remove him or her from the situation. This protects the victim from being bitten again and allows your pet to calm down.
Be Considerate To The Victim – It’s important to be very considerate of the victim to help them calm down and take care of their injury. You are responsible for seeking medical aid or calling an ambulance if the bite is bad enough. It is important to not place any sort of blame or loose your temper as this will only make the situation worse, the victim more upset, and potentially be used against you if the victim chooses to seek legal action.
Exchange Information – Once your animal has been removed from the situation, you and the victim have determined whether medical care is required, the next thing to do is exchange your insurance and contact information. In addition you should obtain any information you can about the scenario (i.e., time, location, date, victim) for your insurance provider and potential legalities.
Contact Your Insurance Provider – Once you are in a private setting you should call you insurance provider to inform them of the situation. If possible do not call your insurance on the scene – it’s best to not discuss private details in a public setting.
Prepare For The Next Steps – If the victim chooses to go forward with any charges it’s crucial for you to be properly prepared as pet bites are taken very seriously by the legal system. This includes gathering your vet records, any pet-training records, insurance information, and seeking an accident lawyer.
The most important thing to remember if your pet has bitten someone is to stay calm. Your first priority is to ensure the victim’s safety by removing you pet from the situation and seeking medical aid if need be. From there you can see where the situation is going (lawsuit or no lawsuit) and prepare accordingly.

OTLA Takes Auto Insurers To School

class-is-in-sessionThe Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, of which Natalie Clarke has been a long-standing member, recently issued a report card on the “three Ps” of auto insurance: Profits, protection and premiums.

The insurance industry should be proud of its A+ grade in profits, not so proud of its D mark for protection and C- for premiums, in the opinion of the trial lawyers.

The insurance industry A+ grade for profits is based on the OTLA’s report of insurance profits of $3 billion in 2011 and 2012, with continued high rates of profitability for 2013.

It estimates the insurers’ return on equity in the range of 16% to 20%. How is that possible? Premiums are higher and payouts are lower.

But don’t insurers deserve to achieve high rates of return now to compensate for their lost billions in the years prior to 2010? According to the OTLA, recently restated industry figures show the losses never occurred.

The industry showed a profit in the three years prior to 2010. But weren’t these huge losses used to justify the slashing of no-fault accident benefits in 2010? Yes, and that leads to the D grade in protection.

The OTLA estimates benefits have been reduced by 96.5%. That’s due in large part to the reduction of medical and rehabilitation benefits from a maximum of $100,000 to $3,500 for most accident victims.

The $100,000 limit for medical/rehabilitation expenses for non-minor injuries was reduced to $50,000.

Worse, these limits include the cost of medical reports and insurers often send accident victims to their preferred sources of so-called independent medical examinations in an attempt to delay and deny benefits.

Too many of the experts who conduct these independent exams earn substantial portions of their income from insurance companies and are beholden to them.

The insurance industry continues to push for “reform” of the definition of catastrophic impairment so as to reduce the coverage for those in most serious need of aid.

But, haven’t premiums dropped?

Sorry, the C- grade for premiums is based on an increase in premiums of 20% since 2009.

While rates are supposed to drop by 15% over the next two years, insurers continue to push for further “reforms” as a quid pro quo for premium cuts.

Some insurers started to reduce their rates last year. Why haven’t more? After all, every insurance company sells the same motor vehicle insurance policy.

In my view, the OTLA report card is missing two important subjects in which the insurance industry deserves an A+.

Those are public relations and delay and deny tactics.

The industry continues to do an excellent PR job convincing the public and politicians that fraud is the major issue facing the industry and that further reforms, meaning reductions in benefits, are necessary.

While fraud is a big problem, it shouldn’t be used to justify maltreatment of accident victims.

As part of the PR efforts of the insurance industry, its money continues to be shuffled to politicians.

Last year, the insurance industry’s lobby group gave $27,900 to the Liberal Party. So far this year they’ve given $20,950.

Those figures don’t include donations made by individual companies.

(The Insurance Bureau of Canada also gives money to the Progressive Conservative Party, $10,050 in 2012 and $18,960 so far this year.)

The industry also continues to do an excellent job in the delay and denial of claims.

Insurance companies deserve top marks in forcing victims to participate in the lengthy mediation/arbitration or mediation/litigation process.

Adjusters and insurer experts continue to do an excellent job denying claims and providing opinions to justify the denial of claims.

All in all, an excellent report card for insurers. But not so good for the public.

CPSO’s new Transparency Principles

CPSO-logo-from-cpso.on_.ca_1If you are a survivor of a car crash and need rehabilitation treatment, you inevitably, will undergo multiple insurance assessments with the assessors hired by your insurance company. These assessments are routinely requested by the mva injuries insurance company with the assessors of their choice (often the same doctors) to determine whether the insurance company can refuse to pay for your treatment because in their opinion the treatment recommended by your treating doctor is not “necessary”.

The complaints about such doctors should be released to the public under the new Transparency Principles that are being developed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, of which Natalie Clarke is a member, had submitted a very important feedback document to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on their “Draft Transparency Principles”. One key issue that OTLA raised was related to those Insurer Examinations under the Insurance Act and its regulation, the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule.

Throughout the years, claimants voiced concerns about the conduct of insurance doctors in their assessments and preparation of their reports. In addition to the incidents of unqualified medical practitioners carrying out insurer medical assessments, there is a widespread perception that reports are often biased and that these assessors operate without fear of professional sanction in an environment that lacks transparency and accountability. OTLA’s submission requesting that more information about such doctors be publicly available, is a positive step in furthering transparency in the realm of insurance assessments.

Auto Insurance Scams

Victim-of-Auto-Insurance-Fraud-300x240With the rise of the internet, it is becoming increasingly easier for people to pretend to be someone they are not. Unfortunately, this means it is not always evident immediately who is trustworthy. Scams like fake insurance companies are a real problem. Here are some tips to help you avoid scammers.

Insurance scammers often advertise heavily discounted insurance, often auto insurance, under the guise of working for a legitimate insurance company, and claim they can find you insurance coverage at rates significantly lower than what you are paying currently.

It is illegal to drive without auto insurance, even unknowingly. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct coverage. But if you are in a car accident, Clarke Law can help.

So what can you do to protect yourself?

DO NOT pay a referral fee – licensed agents and brokers do not charge you fees.

DO NOT pay your auto insurance premium through a wire transfer or money wiring service – this is not a practice in the insurance industry.

DO complete an Ontario Application for Automobile Insurance – Owner’s from (OAF1) application when applying for auto insurance. If an agent or broker completes the form on your behalf, check it for accuracy – by signing the contract, you’re agreeing to the statements made by the insurance company.

DO contact the police if you suspect fraudulent activity on the part of an insurance company.

DO ensure the insurance agent you are working with is legally allowed to sell auto insurance – check at or

DO check that the insurance company is licensed as well.

Clarke Law prides themselves on providing you with professional, quality service. Contact us today if you need a car accident lawyer.