Can I Get Sued If I Give Someone COVID-19?

There has been recent media discussion about possible lawsuits against Ontarians who host social gatherings over the holidays.  Some news outlets suggest that if a guest contracts COVID-19 after attending your house party, you could be found liable in negligence as the host.

Our firm does not recommend breaching local and provincial laws and rules about social distancing and gatherings.  It makes sense to take every step to keep you and your loved ones safe. Plus, the possibility of fines is real!

Can I get sued for giving someone COVID-19 at a Christmas party?

The injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth are doubtful that a flood of lawsuits against party hosts will be successful given the current state of the law and the widespread knowledge and warnings about the risks of gathering inside over the 2020 holiday season.  Civil liability for COVID-19 from a private party?  We think that is far-fetched for the following four reasons.

  1. Proving the Host is At Fault.  First, how would you prove where you contracted the virus?  Unless you are be able to prove that you had zero risk of exposure from anything else you did over the previous 14 days, how could you conclusively say that you got the virus at the party? Have you been to the grocery store? Outside? The gym? School?  Has anyone you live with been any of those places?  If other guests at the party also contracted COVID-19, how would you prove that they did not catch it from you?  As the plaintiff in a civil law suit you have the burden to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your illness.  We think that would be a very difficult burden.
  2. Ontario’s Laws Protect Social Hosts.  Second, look at how the courts have treated social host liability in other contexts.  For example, to date, party hosts who allow drunk guests to drive home from a party have not been found responsible for injuries caused by the drunk driver.  From these cases, there is a strong indication that no liability will be found unless the host actually does something intentionally harmful.  Following these precedents, it is unlikely that a party host would be responsible for someone’s COVID-19 infection unless the plaintiff could prove that the host intentionally withheld information that a guess was not feeling well.
  3. You Assumed the Risk of Illness.  Third, Ontario has a defence called the “voluntary assumption of risk”.  If a person engages in an activity, and they accept and are aware of the risks inherent in that activity, they cannot later complain of injury during the activity.  Although the host will have the obligation to prove that the guest was aware of the risk and accepted them, in the context of the well-publicised risks of the pandemic, this burden would not be difficult to meet.  This is a complete defence.  If the host shows you voluntarily assumed the risk, you lose your lawsuit.
  4. You were negligent too.  Even if you were to prove that the host was somehow responsible for your infection, you would also likely be held to be contributorily negligent.  What that means is that you share the responsibility for your infection.  A court would then decide what percentage you are at fault for your own situation.  Your compensation would be reduced by that percentage.  Given how well known the risks of social gatherings are, and that you chose to participate in the face of those risks, the percentage of your own responsibility would likely be very high.

If you have questions about your specific situation related to COVID-19 or other illness or injury, please contact us.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect In Ontario

When your loved one moved to an Ontario Nursing Home, you expected they would receive the best care.  And so did they.

And yet, the lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth Injury Lawyers have heard from sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandkids about situations of abuse and neglect of elderly nursing home and Long Term Care residents.

It’s heartbreaking.  Your family deserves better.

In our 24th year fighting for people like you, our lawyers are committed to serving families like yours.

We will investigate and seek compensation for physical injuries and Long Term Care centres involving:

  • Bedsores
  • Broken Bones
  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Sexual Abuse or Sexual Assault

Sometimes, abuse and neglect can be emotional or psychological. If your loved one is suddenly withdrawn, depressed or refusing to eat, let’s work together to make sure they are getting the care they pay for and deserve.

Unfortunately, in some cases, neglect or abuse in nursing homes or Long Term Care Centres results in the wrongful death of a beloved family member.

It’s heartbreaking.

We can help you and your family if the injuries are because the home:

  • Does not have enough staff to care for the number of residents;
  • Does not have staff with the appropriate level of training for the needs of the residents;
  • Requires staff to work shifts that are too long;
  • Has inadequate supervision of staff;
  • Does not require criminal record checks for its staff;
  • Does not adhere to guidelines for feeding and hydrating residents;
  • Shuts out family members who ask questions or making inquiries relating to care.

Let the experienced team of lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth give you the best advice on whether to make a claim, lodge a complaint or both.

If you believe your family member is the victim of physical, mental or sexual abuse in an Ontario Nursing Home, contact us today for a FREE case assessment at (613) 233-4529.

What is a Pre-trial and Why Do I Need One?

This post was originally published on Nov 3rd, 2010 and updated on June 17th, 2020.  

If you have a personal injury lawsuit in Ottawa or certain other jurisdictions in this Eastern Ontario, you will have a pretrial before your case goes to trial before a judge or a judge and jury.

The reason for a pretrial is to resolve the case through negotiation or to narrow the contentious issues in the case. In a personal injury case, the issues are usually: who was responsible for the collision (liability) and what are injuries worth (damages).

Who presides over a personal injury a pre-trial?

A case management judge or another court official called a case management master facilitates a discussion of the issues and reviews the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case.

Who attends a personal injury pre-trial?

The lawyers for the injured person and the injured person attend. The lawyer for the defence, usually hired by the insurance company, as well as a representative of the defence, usually a claims examiner or adjuster, will also be present.

When does a pre-trial happen during a personal injury case?

Before the pre-trial is held, parties are required to complete all examinations for discovery, produce all of the required documents and complete any related motions.

What will my lawyer do to prepare for a pre-trial?

Your lawyer will prepare a brief with a detailed outline of the evidence you will be leading at trial. This will include key passages from the transcripts from the examination for discovery, important medical records and expert reports. The brief will also identify the witnesses you intend to call at trial and what they will say at trial.

How will I prepare for my personal injury pre-trial?

You will likely meet with your lawyer before the pre-trial to discuss your settlement position and any developments in the case that arise from the defence lawyer’s pretrial brief.

What will happen during the pre-trial?

Different judges run pre-trials in different ways. Sometimes all the parties, lawyers and the judge will meet in a courtroom. The lawyers will make submissions and the judge will comment and then give an evaluation of the case.

In other cases, the judge will meet privately with the lawyers and go through the case and then come back into the courtroom to speak to the parties about his or her views.

A pretrial may last one hour or it may last several, particularly if the parties are actively negotiating.

What happens after the pre-trial?

If a settlement is reached, the case will not proceed beyond the pretrial.

If a settlement is not reached, the judge will discuss the expected length of the trial with the lawyers and a trial date will be set.

Although the parties will often be disappointed if the case does not settle, having a fixed trial date motivates the parties to continue to work toward a settlement. It also provides a deadline for the resolution of the case—the trial date.


Defensive Driving: What to Do If You Get a Flat Tire While Driving

This post was originally published on Sep 2nd, 2012 and updated on June 16th, 2020.  

There is nothing worse than a flat tire. Especially at night! Ugh!

Have you heard the ominous “thump thump thump” while driving?  You know that noise means your vehicle is now operating one wheel short of the full set. Getting a flat tire is never much fun, but a blowout while driving at high speed, such as on a highway can be extremely dangerous.

Your safety and that of your passengers and those travelling in vehicles around you depend on your ability to keep calm, think quickly, and carry out the steps below.

What steps should you take immediately after you realize you have a flat tire?

  1. Slow down – Slowly! Do not slam on the brakes. With three tires instead of four you will have reduced traction with the road.  You certainly do not want to make a bad situation worse by causing the car to spin or slide into traffic. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and gently apply the brake.
  2. As you decelerate, steer the car into a safe zone like an adjacent parking lot (if you’re on city streets) or the side of the road (if you’re on the highway).
  3. Know the safety zones. If possible, pull your car off to the RIGHT side of the road, unless crossing multiple lanes of traffic is impossible or unsafe. Once off the road, stop your car as far away from the roadway as possible.
  4. Turn on your flasher lights – especially if you’re unable to get far away from the flow of traffic. This is an immediate alert to other drivers that you are in distress and could mean the difference between getting rear-ended while stopped and avoiding a devastating collision. Popping your hood also sends a similar message.
  5. If you’re able to change the flat tire yourself, only change the tire if you can work safely. Otherwise, call roadside assistance or the non-emergency police number for assistance.
  6. Wait safely. If you’re waiting for help, stand back from the road.
  7. Avoid tires if you can. It’s impossible to completely eliminate the chance of a flat tire, but adding a few items to your car’s inventory while you’re doing routine maintenance can make dealing with one a little easier.
    1. Always carry a spare tire and equipment to help install it, like a jack and lug wrench.
    2. Foam sealants are a cheap quick fix for a flat, but should only be used in emergencies as some tire shops will refuse to repair a tire because sticky residue the sealant leaves behind. Still, in an emergency when you need to get back on the road in a hurry, having foam sealant handy can be a temporary fix.

If you’ve been in an Ontario car accident and need the advice of an accident lawyer, reach out to the experienced Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.  We will provide you with the information you need to make the right decisions about compensation in your case.  Call our law firm today 613 233-4529.

How Can I Have Success at Examination for Discovery? | Ontario

This post was originally published on Nov 3rd, 2010 and updated on June 12th, 2020.  

Many plaintiffs worry about the examination for discovery. The truth is, this is an important part of your case. It is the first time the opposing lawyer hears from you directly. Not only will the lawyer form an impression of the strength of your case based on the facts you describe, but also the lawyer will be assessing how strong you are as a witness. Nevertheless, a little practice and preparation will go a long way toward success at the examination.

What is Examination for Discovery?

There are three main reasons why the defence lawyer wants to examine you. First, as mentioned above, the lawyer and his or her client want to size you up as a witness. How will the jury like you?  Do you seem credible and reliable?

Second, they want to hear your version of the facts, straight from your mouth.

Third, they want you to commit to your story. Because you are giving sworn evidence, if you try to change your answers at trial, you will be cross-examined against what you said at examination for discovery. This is called being “impeached”. It hurts your credibility if your story is not consistent.

Why Have Examination for Discovery?

There are three main reasons why the opposing lawyer wants to examine you. First, as mentioned above, the lawyer and his or her client want to size you up as a witness. How will the jury like you?

Second, they want to hear your version of the facts, straight from your mouth.

Third, they want you to commit to your story. Because you are giving sworn evidence, if you try to change your answers at trial, you will be cross-examined against what you said at examination for discovery. This is called being “impeached”. It hurts your credibility if your story is not consistent.

How Can You Succeed at Examination for Discovery?

1. Always tell the truth. The lawyers and insurance adjusters you are dealing with are very smart and very experienced. It is unlikely that you will get away with exaggerating or not telling the truth. In a personal injury case, that means you must admit to past injuries or medical incidents or pre-existing conditions and you must not overstate your injuries.  You also have to be honest about your loss of income.

2. Stay focused. Some lawyers are aggressive. You will have no doubt that this is a formal legal proceeding. Other lawyers, however, are warm and friendly. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a casual conversation just because a lawyer seems friendly. You are there to answer the specific questions asked and nothing more. On breaks, you should not talk about anything personal in the presence of opposing counsel. There are no exceptions. Nothing said at discovery is “off the record”.

3. Listen to the questions. Do not answer a question you don’t understand. Do not start answering the question partway through. Don’t answer more than the question asks. If you listen to the question, these rules are pretty easy.

What Do You Do if You Don’t Know the Answer to a Question?

You answer: “I don’t know”. It is perfectly acceptable to tell the examiner that you don’t know the answer to the question. Discovery is not a memory test. And most importantly, you must not guess at any answer. Sometimes it is acceptable to approximate. For example, this is acceptable if you are estimating a car’s speed or a distance. Just be sure to clarify that it is an estimate.

What Does Your Lawyer Do While You Are Being Examined?

Your own lawyer ensures that you are fairly treated during the discovery. For example, we will make objections to questions that are improper, although in personal injury cases these objections are rare. If your lawyer does not object, you should answer the question. Unfortunately, in a personal injury case, there are subject matters you will be asked about that can be personal. Even your sex life can be a reasonable topic in many cases. Be confident that your lawyer is making all legitimate objections.

You cannot have a secret or private discussion with your own lawyer during your examination for discovery. It is simply not allowed.

The main thing your lawyer is doing during your examination is planning what else needs to be done on the case. Often the discovery will highlight areas that need fleshing out. Your lawyer will be making a list of these areas and planning the next steps.

We hope this information has given you an overview of what to expect during your examination for discovery.

To speak to an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer call 613 233-4529, email us at [email protected] or use our handy contact form.

Choosing Your Ottawa Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one in Eastern Ontario has suffered a spinal cord injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you need a personal injury law firm that is well equipped, experienced and with enough financial clout to fight for all available funding.

Getting the maximum settlement or trial verdict available will make a significant difference in the life of a person with a spinal cord injury.  Here are some factors to consider when choosing your lawyer:

Does the lawyer and the law firm focus on personal injury law?

This question is important for several reasons.

First, you want a personal injury law firm with a team of lawyers, law clerks, investigators and paralegals.  Big cases need big teams of people dedicated to maximizing your result.

Second, you want a law firm that understands that big cases take time.  Sometimes at law firms with competing practice areas, law partners can get frustrated when big cases take too long.  They want to get paid.  At a personal injury law firm like Auger Hollingsworth, we understand the client’s needs and the business model.

Does the lawyer and the law firm have the financial resources to fully pursue your claim?

You need a personal injury law firm that can afford to spend the money necessary to push your case to the limit.  Lawyers can incur $100,000 in expenses (apart from their time) or even much more to get the maximum for your case.  You never want to select a lawyer who cannot afford the experts and other costs associated with maximizing compensation.

Does the lawyer and the law firm have experience with spinal cord injury cases?

You want a lawyer who has previously represented people in Eastern Ontario who have had a spinal cord injury.  Ask the lawyer about their firm’s past successes.  Ask the law firm about challenges in past spinal cord cases and how they overcame those challenges.

A significant injury like a spinal cord injury deserves a law firm with an experienced team that will take all available steps to ensure that every dollar available is secured for your future.

How Long Will It Take to Settle My Ontario Accident Case?


This post was originally published on Sep 3rd, 2010 and updated on June 4th, 2020.  

As personal injury lawyers who meet hundreds of accident clients, we know that if you have been in a motor vehicle collision, either as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, you are probably wondering how long it will take for your case to result in compensation for you.  There is no one size fits all answer to that question, but here are four factors that impact the timeline.

Factor Number 1:  What type of injury do you have?

Some injuries are more straightforward than others.  This can impact how easy it is to assess the value of your claim.  Many fractures or other “objective” injuries have a predictable recovery.  Plus, their lasting effects are easy to predict.  If you have an injury like that, it may be easier to settle your case sooner because we can reasonably assess what your case is worth without waiting to see what happens to you.

On the other hand, if you have an injury that is progressive where you may or may not need surgery in the future, it will be more difficult to assess your damages (the amount of compensation) at an early stage.  There is a serious risk of under-compensation if you settle before this type of injury has stabilized.  You do not want to settle your case too early and be shortchanged if your medical outcome is worse than you hoped.

Factor Number 2: Have you returned to work?

If you have already returned to work, or if you did not work before you were hurt, it may be possible to settle your case sooner because it is not necessary to predict what your total loss of income will be.  For example, if you are still off work, but expect and hope to return to work sometime in the future it can be difficult to negotiate enough compensation to cover all your lost future income.

We often must wait a long time before your doctors will provide a strong, conclusive opinion that you will not be returning to work.  Again, settling before you have that information risks under-compensation.  Loss of income can be the most important and most valuable part of a personal injury case so, it is important to maximize this part of your case.

Factor Number 3: Are your injuries permanent?

In Ontario, according to the Insurance Act, you cannot sue for pain and suffering after a car accident unless your injuries are permanent.  For many types of injuries, it takes time before you will be able to show that your injuries will meet that part of the legal threshold to sue in Ontario.

Factor Number 4: Did you contact a lawyer early in the process?

If you have a lawyer involved soon after the accident happens, there may be a chance to settle with the insurance company directly.  Settling before we start a lawsuit can be a much faster process than a lawsuit, although it is not appropriate or possible in some cases.

If you contact a lawyer too close to the limitation period expires (usually two years from the date of the accident), there may not be enough time to negotiate a resolution with the insurance company’s adjuster.  When that happens, a lawsuit will be required.  Where a lawsuit is started, cases rarely settle before examination for discovery which, can be scheduled 8-10 months down the road due to conflicting schedules.

To speak to an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer call 613 233-4529, email us at [email protected] or use our handy contact form.

5 Things You Should Know Before You Settle Your Accident Benefit Claim

This post was originally published on Feb 17th, 2011 and updated on May 29th, 2020. 

Are you considering settling your accident benefit case?

If you are handling your motor vehicle collision file by yourself, or even just your accident benefit claim by yourself, there will likely be a moment when the insurance adjuster asks you to settle your claim.

Many residents of Eastern Ontario, including Ottawa, settle their accident benefit claim for too small an amount of money.  The main reason for this shortfall is that most claimants have no way of knowing what the total settlement amount the insurer could possibly owe you.

Do you have all the information you need before settling? 

Before you settle your claim, make sure you understand the following:

  • Income Replacement Benefits continue after 2 years post-collision if you are still unable to work at all. Many claimants think the insurance company only has to pay for two years.  This is false!
  • Are you eligible to apply for catastrophic benefits? If you haven’t already settled your claim and you are not working and still suffering serious symptoms from your collision, you should consider meeting with a lawyer.  The process to apply for catastrophic benefits is complex.
  • If you resolve your Accident Benefit claim for an insufficient amount, it can hurt your lawsuit against the driver who caused your injuries. The insurance company will be able to reduce what you could have or should have received from the accident benefit insurer.
  • Did you know that any settlement offered by the accident benefit insurer is negotiable? You should ALWAYS counter-offer, even if the insurance company tells you the offer is “final”.  Final does not always mean final.
  • The insurance company will evaluate your burn rate (the rate at which you consume benefits) when calculating the value of your settlement amount.   What that means is the insurance company will assess how much you have spent each year since your accident on medical rehabilitation expenses.  They will then use the average of those numbers to predict your future expenses.  You should find out from the insurer what the burn rate is.

Settlements are almost always final. In most cases, after you settle your accident benefit claim, you cannot go back to ask for more money….so make sure the deal you negotiate is a deal that is good to you!

For help with your accident benefit case, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth Professional Corporation.  We can be reached at 613 233-4529.

Check out what Donna had to say about us on Google:

“I can not thank Brenda, Charles and Andrew enough for their professional care, compassion and brilliant legal work which ensured that I received a fair and just settlement for the injuries I sustained. The settlement has allowed me to start the construction to make my beloved townhouse accessible. I still face months, perhaps years of physiotherapy and medical care but now I have the necessary funds to ensure that I can get the professional help I need. Auger Hollingsworth turned ed a devastating situation (where I thought that I would have to move, leave my townhouse community and wonderful friends ) into a situation where I can recover and age in place! If you are involved in a slip and fall I suggest that you call a Lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth (Charles Genest is great!!) immediately they will guide you step by step so that the process is clear and not overwhelming.”

Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Dealing with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a very serious and common issue that often arises after a trauma like a motor vehicle accident or a slip and fall. The widespread problem is the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. The American Academy of Pain Medicine estimates that more than 1.5 billion people around the world live with chronic pain. For general cases, pain is a natural warning system telling your body that something is wrong after an injury. However, chronic pain persists months after the original cause is gone.

Chronic pain often causes more underlying problems than meets the eye. Complications can seriously hinder your quality of life by making it harder to complete daily tasks, like managing work and home responsibilities. A condition called chronic pain syndrome (CPS) affects about 25% of all people with chronic pain. CPS is diagnosed when symptoms like depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping arise in addition to pain.

Sometimes, proving that a person has chronic pain syndrome can be a complex process because most of the symptoms are subjective and do not appear on tests or through medical procedures. However, consulting with a medical professional and rehabilitation expert to help establish solid evidence can help increase the chances of a personal injury claim.

Unfortunately, there is no instant cure for chronic pain. However, treatments including medication and or physical therapy, among other things, can help manage pain and relieve symptoms.

3 Tips for Dealing with Chronic Pain

1. Live a healthy lifestyle:

Eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, exercising, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol intake can help decrease stress.

2. Find support:

Either by joining a local support group, talking to friends and family or speaking with a professional can enhance your wellbeing.

3. Continue doing what you enjoy:

If you are physically capable, socializing with friends and participating in activities can help distract you and maintain a positive outlook on life.


If you would like more information on how to build a personal injury claim for your chronic pain, please call 613-233-4529 or email us at [email protected]

Can an Insurance Company Follow and Videotape Me if I Made a Long-Term Disability Claim?

After you make a claim for long-term disability (LTD) benefits, your insurer will need to assess it in a comprehensive manner to determine credibility. Before any benefits are paid out, they want to be sure that your assertion isn’t fraudulent or misrepresented.

If you claim you hurt your back, for example, and can’t perform any strenuous activities, your believability will be undermined if you’re caught shoveling the snow from your walk. One of the ways insurance companies make their assessment is by hiring a private investigator to conduct what’s known as surveillance. Surveillance can include photographs, video and searches of your social media content.

The breadth of surveillance

Prior to any surveillance, insurers will provide investigators with a description of your injury, so that they know what to look for. It’s not uncommon for investigators to then sit outside your home or follow you to appointments and on errands in order to capture videos or photographs of you engaging in ordinary activities. However, surveillance must be limited to public spaces; there should not be any videotaping of your activities inside your home or other private places.

What’s more, with social media usage so popular these days, it’s very common for investigators to comb through a claimant’s social media channels to ensure any and all posts are consistent with the injury in question too.

Reports are prepared

Once surveillance is completed, investigators then prepare a report for the insurance company which includes all the photos, videos and notes taken during the surveillance.

A copy of the report needs to be sent to defence counsel, disclosed in a sworn Affidavit of Documents. Of course, any surveillance activity in the report that is inconsistent with the claimant’s injury is now considered important evidence which can undermine the claim.

What to do when being surveilled

The most important thing you can do is to be honest about your injury when filing your claim. You may not enjoy being videotaped outside your house, but if you’re being truthful about your situation, you really should have nothing to hide. Still, if you plan on starting new activities, be sure to get clearance from your medical practitioner first.

As for social media, there have been some recent court decisions that call into question one’s right to privacy when online (even when one engages with privacy settings turned on). With the impact of those decisions still unclear, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Keep in mind, an insurer can try and use your “smiling” photos on Instagram or Facebook to undermine your claim of depression or anxiety. So, enable those privacy settings but also try to limit your activity online if you have an LTD case ongoing. There’s no reason to provide additional content for possible misinterpretation.

We can help

No matter what question or concern you may have when making a claim, the best advice would be to reach out to a lawyer. Because the last thing you need to worry about when focused on your recovery is fighting for your rights. The LTD litigation process is complex, unnerving, while the court system moves at a slow pace. But a lawyer with experience in long-term disability and personal injury law can help you navigate it all with confidence and efficiency.

The team at Auger Hollingsworth is focused on helping our clients receive the compensation and justice they deserve. Over the years, we’ve helped many succeed in their claims for long-term disability benefits when they’ve been denied or terminated prematurely. If you want to discuss how we can help you, call us at (613) 233 4529 or email us at [email protected]

To learn more, visit our Long Term Disability Insurance Denials Page.

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