Personal Injury

Insurance defence lawyers struggling to keep costs down: Vaughan

By Mia Clarke, Associate Editor

Despite the lack of headline-grabbing landmark decisions in the last year, these are lively times for lawyers who practise insurance defence in personal injury cases, Toronto insurance defence lawyer Heather Vaughan tells Canadian Lawyer.

While “shiny objects” like self-driving cars or anything related to cannabis may attract more attention, Vaughan, partner with Benson Percival Brown LLP, says she and her colleagues have been focused on more day-to-day issues, like the high volume of cases and increased competition.

“It is about going back to the basics and dealing with the cost of litigation and an ongoing lack of judicial and court resources,” says Vaughan, who is also vice-chairwoman of the Canadian Defence Lawyers’ women’s caucus.

She says the lack of judges is adding to the cost of litigation.

“Both sides are using more experts," Vaughan tells "Files are open for a longer period of time because of the lack of available judges. That adds costs at a time when there is pressure to reduce expenses.”

Canadian Lawyer also reports that in Ontario, the Civil Rules Committee has proposed increasing the number of claims under the “simplified procedure” provisions.

“The current maximum claim under this process is $100,000,” the magazine reports. “The proposed changes would increase that maximum to $200,000. As well, costs awards would be capped at $50,000 and disbursements at $25,000. Another potential change would be to take away the right to a jury trial for simplified procedure claims.”

Vaughan says, “This would have a significant impact on smaller personal injury cases, which are clogging up dockets."

She says the changes could free up court resources for litigating more serious injuries.

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