Why Canadians Are Reluctant To Sue (Part 1): How do I know if I have a case?


By Jan Marin, Senior Associate and Lawyer  & Brenda Agnew, Client Liaison

What comes to mind when you think about a stereotypical Canadian? Nice and polite; friendly towards strangers or newcomers; willing to help? In the legal community, another phrase might come to mind – reluctant to sue.

Canadians have a reputation for being less litigious than our neighbours to the south, particularly when it comes to medical malpractice cases. Why is that? Are we more likely to forgive and forget when we’ve been seriously hurt, or are there other reasons for this reluctance? In this blog series, we will explore these questions and more. In our first post, we’ll look at the question “How do I know if I have a case?” and talk about some questions to ask when considering whether you might have a case. In future posts, we’ll look at defining standard of care, as well as causation, and we’ll explain the statute of limitations. Next, we hope to address some of the concerns you may have about receiving future medical care if you decide to pursue a case against your doctor, and lastly, we’ll talk about being reluctant to sue a doctor with whom you have established a relationship.

When something is wrong, it’s important to act

One of the first questions we receive from prospective clients after they tell us their story is: “Do I have a case?” Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no, and often we’ll need to investigate a bit further before we can say for certain. But for all the times we’re asked this question, it’s heartbreaking to think of how many more times people are too nervous, uncertain or even too scared to ask. These people may be suffering from complications following surgery or perhaps they are the parents of a child who has begun to present signs of a birth injury. Whatever the circumstances, all is not well in their lives after they or a loved one have received medical care. As they think about the problems they’re experiencing, they wonder what (if anything) can be done. Is it a medical issue? A legal issue?  Should I think about contacting a lawyer, or would it be a waste of time and resources?

We can help, no matter what

The best advice we can give is – when in doubt, ask. At Gluckstein Lawyers, we will gladly listen to your story and offer legal advice and representation if you need it and want it. Even if you do have a case, you may ultimately decide a lawsuit is not the best way to address what happened to you or a loved one. Nevertheless, there is still much we can do to help you achieve a good resolution and a sense of closure. As a part of Gluckstein Lawyers commitment to full-circle care, our firm has created a client liaison role to help people advocate for themselves regardless of whether they decide to pursue litigation. Our client liaison can assist if you:

  • file a complaint with one of the medical colleges following unsatisfactory treatment from a medical professional
  • consult the patient ombudsperson at a hospital or other medical facility
  • speak to a facility’s clinical resource manager
  • finding community resources

Whether you have an ongoing legal case, a concern or a complaint about the medical treatment you’ve received, Gluckstein Lawyers can work with you to ensure that it’s addressed in an appropriate way.  

For more information, contact Brenda Agnew, at agnew@gluckstein.com, or give her a call at 416.408.4252 , Ext.260.


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