When practising tort law, one of the first and most important lessons that every Insurance Lawyer learn is that they should file a lawsuit against a defendant with deep pockets and the financial wherewithal to satisfy a judgment. In a case involving personal injury, the only remedy that can be awarded is monetary compensation.
Why does Insurance matter?
The victor of a lawsuit does not get a ticker tape parade in celebration of their victory. During the time that the plaintiff is focused on getting better from their injuries, the court cannot order the defendant to apologize or to serve you. The only thing that a judge or jury can do is order the defendant to pay you compensation for the losses you’ve incurred.
A defendant does not necessarily go to jail if they are unable to pay the judgment. Additionally, it doesn’t imply that their freedoms—such as the ability to work and drive—will be restricted. The plaintiff has no recourse if a defendant refuses to pay and lacks the financial resources to satisfy a judgment. The judgment has no actual financial worth. Even though a plaintiff may feel satisfied or vindicated to have “won” the case, the plaintiff won’t receive any money if the defendant is unable to pay the judgment.
This is why it’s crucial for a plaintiff to bring a claim against a defendant who can pay off a potential judgment. Due to this, insurance is important.
The purpose of insurance lawyers is to guide their insured clients through the maze of claims, agreements, and coverages. They are especially crucial in cases where a coverage dispute cannot be settled, and court action is required.
Why do these problems frequently come up in assault claims and dog bite or attack claims?
One does not need to have any kind of insurance protection in order to own a dog. Legal or financial restrictions on dog ownership do not exist. Both a homeless person receiving ODSP and a billionaire business magnate are permitted to own dogs.
If you get bitten by the dog of a billionaire, there will be money in your pocket to help you recover. When a homeless person’s dog attacks you, there is a chance that there are no pockets from which you can recover.
Dog attack cases are typically covered by the owner’s or rental property’s insurance. There will probably be no coverage if the dog owner does not own, rent, or have property insurance.
There is no such coverage available for cases involving dog bites. This is in contrast to a car accident case where your insurer steps into an uninsured driver’s shoes to defend the policyholder on the claim. The plaintiff may not be able to recover damages for their claim if the dog owner has no assets and no insurance coverage.
This is not to say that their claim is without merit. The case could succeed, as was already mentioned. But winning the case has no financial value if the defendant is unable to pay the judgment. After “winning” the case, the plaintiff may actually lose money because they will have to pay hourly retainer-based legal fees and other expenses.
It’s critical to remember that no insurance will pay for criminal activity or an intentional act of violence when handling assault cases. There won’t be any insurance coverage to pay out on a potential lawsuit against the defendants for their violence and the injuries that result from it if a defendant strikes a plaintiff during a fight.
This is why personal injury attorneys make the joke that if you are going to be assaulted, make sure the attacker is wealthy! The harmed plaintiff won’t be able to collect on the judgment if they are impoverished or without assets. The plaintiff will likely prevail in their legal dispute. However, this will be nothing more than a moral victory because it is pointless to attempt to recover from a defendant who is judgment-proof.
Frequently, we use the scenario of being attacked by a homeless person (who is without any tangible or monetary assets). How is it possible that a plaintiff will be successful? They will undoubtedly prevail in their litigation regarding fault and compensation, but they won’t be able to enforce the judgment. Blood cannot be drawn from a stone.
Please be aware that a personal injury lawsuit may allow for the garnishment of funds that a defendant receives from Ontario Works or ODSP. Therefore, try not to think too far ahead when considering these ideas. You may have heard tales of ODSP and Ontario Works benefits being withheld in order to pay for support orders in family law cases. That is accurate! There are some circumstances in family law where Ontario Works and ODSP payments may be garnished. Even in the event that a plaintiff prevails in a lawsuit against a defendant whose only asset is Ontario Works or ODSP, these payments cannot be garnished in personal injury cases. These defendants effectively serve as judgment proof.
Importance of insurance in automobile cases
Insurance is also important in car accident cases. People driving without auto insurance are frequently sighted. This is forbidden. However, this does not imply that the defending driver will be arrested for operating a vehicle without insurance. It merely raises some potential coverage problems. The insurance company that must pay out on a claim depends on a number of factors. However, as a general rule, the plaintiff’s auto insurer will step into the shoes of the at-fault Defendant driver and defend them if the Defendant driver has no auto insurance. The plaintiff’s own insurance company is battling against their own insured, which creates an odd situation, but this is how Ontario’s insurance laws operate. Even if the plaintiff was a pedestrian, their own insurer would be mentioned in the lawsuit if they had their own car insurance. This is why getting car insurance is a good idea.
The Ontario Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund will only respond to a claim if the plaintiff (such as a pedestrian or cyclist) has no auto insurance and the at-fault driver was operating the vehicle illegally without auto insurance. The issue is that the policy limits for the claim will only be capped at $200,000 in that case. A typical auto insurance policy in Ontario costs five times as much, or $1,000,000. This also explains why auto insurance is a good idea since you’ll have access to more protection if something unfortunate happens while driving.