By Phillip Millar, Founder, Millars Law
Over the span of my career as a Personal Injury Lawyer, I’ve been involved in hundreds of cases, each of them distinct in its own way. At the suggestion of my colleagues, I’ve made up a list of the 5 cases that taught me the most about Canadian and US law and the intricacies of each system.
5) Clients Whose Child was Injured at an Indoor Playground
The staff and owners tried to encourage my clients to sign a waiver at the scene. Thankfully, the clients called me first and I told them to hold off so we could look at the case in greater detail. My clients were told that had they signed the waiver, they would have had no case.
Result: Case was settled for $34,000 that went into a trust fund for the child.
Lesson Learned: Waivers cannot correct negligence. Waivers are just acknowledgements of risk, if the occupier was negligent then “waiver” or not you have a case.
4) Client Abused by the Catholic Church
The man thought that because the abuse happened decades ago, and he failed to act, he could not sue the church because of a limitation date restriction. The client by chance happened to have a friend who our firm helped in another matter, his friend suggested he speak to us. This was a great decision, we informed the client that in sexual assault cases the limitation dates are very different.
Result: Client was well within his rights to sue the church on historic sexual abuse allegations, we did so and were successful obtaining a sizeable judgement that allowed him to finally get treatment and care he needed.
Lesson Learned: Abuse that happens to young children carries far reaching consequences. Our justice system allows significant leeway to allows victims to seek justice in the courts and one should never assume a lawsuit cannot bring justice.
3) Clients Sexually Assaulted While Serving in the Military
These clients were traumatized by the events that led to them having to leave the military. The military was slow to recognize the abuses and their impact on these young women. The women did not want to rock the boat and be seen as troublemakers by their peers in uniform. Fortunately, one of them spoke to the military police and the perpetrator was convicted at a court martial. The victims were not told by the military that suing was an option. Luckily, they were referred to our office by a serving soldier who knew we help veterans get justice.
Result: Multiple settlements for the clients and a positive impact on the issue of sexual assault in the military.
Lesson Learned: Standing up to your employer and demanding justice can dramatically effect the world and help victims on the path to healing. When in doubt, call a good lawyer with experience in the field.
2) Client Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident in Florida
While in a church parking lot with family and friends, a local resident made an error and reversed her SUV over the group of people, killing many and severely wounding our client. The US insurance system was prepared to mediate the case for settlement purposes. Some of the other Canadian clients hired a US firm to represents them in Florida, but we chose to go to Florida to represent the client in person. This was an excellent decision as the collective US lawyers operate under very different rules and being there in person allowed me to correct many errors in terms of determining what the Canadians were entitled to receive.
Result: Our client received far more in US settlement dollars because of our attendance in person for her life threatening injuries.
Lesson Learned: Taking a personal interest and not just referring the matter to US counsel is the best way to serve the client. Although a US lawyer may say all the right things to get your business, their actual conduct out of our sight was very different than expected. We learned that staying involved is the best way to get the most for your client.
1) Client in UWO Stop Resisting Case
One of my first big cases was helping a young man who unfortunately had a mental heath emergency while at university studying Political Science. He thought he was a professor and campus police were called to assist him. He was arrested by 7 police officers in a violent altercation captured on Youtube. No one wanted to take the case as suing the police is not easy due to their statements indicating that my client was violent before and during arrest.
Result: Settled mid case, Non-Disclosure Agreement in place
Lesson Learned: Powerful opponents can be taken on when true injustices take place, but one must be prepared to take them to trial and face the dangers and struggles associated with the courtroom. Few people believed we could win this case, but toughness and perseverance always wins the day.