Nainesh Kotak knows your legal rights. More importantly, he wants you to know them too.
“We need some aspects of disability law and some aspects of insurance law to become general knowledge,” says the personal injury and disability lawyer who is the founder of Kotak Personal Injury Law. “That’s how everyone will be prepared to protect themselves, and their families, should they be injured or become disabled.”
Kotak Personal Injury Law stands out for its focus on sharing relevant, useful information. As founder of the firm, Nainesh is becoming a recognized voice in the industry as a result of his media appearances that bring clarity to the public’s understanding of the law. That greater understanding is being welcomed, especially where insurance law is concerned.
When insurance contracts are negotiated and signed, many consumers believe they are buying a service to protect their income and lifestyle in the event of a catastrophic event. As long as premiums are paid and no claims are made, that perception is fine with the insurance companies. Challenging the rights of policy holders comes later.
“It is only when something happens and people get hurt that problems arise, Nainesh says. “When insurance companies don’t hold up their end of the bargain and my clients get pestered. They are pestered by insurance company case managers and adjusters. Often that makes their health conditions worse because they get those phone calls and feel intimidated.”
Considering that just one of Canada’s largest insurers has assets worth over $389 billion dollars, it’s no wonder that people involved in conflicts with their insurers often feel like little mice being cornered by hungry cats. It’s a scenario the team at Kotak Personal Injury Law/Disability Lawyers has seen again and again.
“Often, when people come in to see us for the first time, they look like they’ve been defeated already,” says Nainesh who works on client files with his associates Kaity Yang and Rajiv Haté. Dispelling that sense of defeat and replacing it with hope, is the whole team’s first task upon meeting a new client. And there is plenty of reason for hope.
“The reality is that it’s very hard for me to remember a short term or long term disability case where I haven’t gotten money for someone,” Nainesh says. “I don’t take frivolous cases. There always has to be a legitimate medical reason. I see issues with employers and stress, I see issues with workplace bullying and there are disability cases that are weaker or stronger, but seldom do I see cases with no merit. They are all paid something.”
Kotak Personal Injury Law operates on a contingency fee basis. All expense are paid up front by the firm and they recoup them, as well as their fees, from the final amount of the financial settlement obtained from the insurance company. That too, is all about rights. The right to justice can be an expensive one to uphold.
“I look at it as giving victims access to justice,” Nainesh says. “If they were being billed by the hour, and if they had to pay a huge retainer upfront, then they couldn’t afford it and they wouldn’t get access to justice. By taking cases on a contingency-fee basis, we allow them to focus on their own health and treatment without having to worry about dealing with the insurance company. There is a risk in proceeding the way we do, but we take that risk.”
Kotak Personal Injury Law may assume the risk to protecting their clients’ right to justice, but that does not mean they assume all of the responsibility.
“We truly want our clients to be able to focus on their own health,” Nainesh says. “We will protect their rights through the courts, when they need us to, but there is a lot people can do to protect themselves. We want them to know how to do that too.”
According to Nainesh Kotak, there are five tasks you can, and should, do protect yourself in the event of an accident, injury or disability claim. You can complete some of those protective tasks right now.
1. Know what your policy covers and doesn’t cover.
Do you have coverage for at-home nursing care should you become injured? What about house-keeping and childcare help? While many people assume these services are included in a blanket policy, recent changes to insurance law may have made them separate items that have to be added on to standard coverage.
“It’s important to read the fine print and ask the person who is selling it about any questions you have regarding coverage,” says Nainesh. “Talk to your financial planner to ensure there is enough coverage to maintain your lifestyle.”
2. Organize your documents for emergency access.
In the event of an accident or injury, the insurance companies will expect to be notified almost immediately, depending on the time limits and deadlines spelled out in your policy.
“At the very minimum have all the records for life insurance, critical illness insurance, as well as auto insurance policies organized in one place with the contact numbers for brokers and agents,” Nainesh says. “Make sure a family member knows where to find them so they can act on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
3. Don’t waste time.
Your policy comes with deadlines to respond. In addition, there are regulations in place stating when and how you have to access the court system in the event of a legal issue with your insurance company.
“There are limitations to sue,” says Nainesh. “In Ontario, that is generally two years. What I find happening is that insurance companies have an internal appeals processes that waste time. They make a decision and then they have their own review so that you have a second decisionmaker who works for the same boss in the same company. They then make people run around to gather more records and more medical opinions. That takes times and the client is getting more frustrated, more anxious, more depressed while the time within which they have to decide to sue is running out. When you have that first denial, go to a lawyer. Then, the client doesn’t waste time.”
4. Be honest.
This piece of advice has two dimensions: If you are injured or disabled by an illness or accident, you must be completely honest about what you can and can’t do. And, you must also show that you are completely invested in your treatment and recovery. Insurance companies will dig deep into medical documentation going back 3 to 5 years to check for how the patient or victim has dealt with their condition.
“In disability cases, it’s really not a case of what caused the disability. Instead, everyone wants to see that the client has sought the proper treatment. If a medical professional recommends a course of rehabilitation treatment or therapy, follow it,” Nainesh says. “If you can do your grocery shopping, say so. Be aware that you may be followed. Not every day, but a few times a year. Insurance companies don’t want to be defrauded and they are looking for ways to reduce what they owe to their customers.
5. Be careful what you post on social media.
When you are involved in any kind of mediation or court proceedings with an insurance company, your social media accounts and profiles need to be as private and balanced as possible. Insurance companies will see the picture of you dancing at your nieces wedding with joy and use that to their advantage. They won’t know that your back and neck caused you agony for days after so that you could experience that joy.
“We are seeing a huge focus on social media in the litigation process,” says Nainesh. “What we see happening is that insurance companies are combing through social media accounts to see if a person with a disability is depicting a normal life. Most people don’t post bad or sad moments on Facebook. Instead, they focus on happy celebrations and insurance companies can use that to argue they are not suffering.”
It’s clear to Nainesh and the rest of the team at Kotak Personal Injury Law that their mission to protect the rights of their clients is a privilege they take seriously as both professionals and citizens.
“I think as Canadians we need to cherish those rights and acknowledge those who helped build and safeguard them,” Nainesh says. “I do realize the sacrifice that our troops, our veterans and their families have made for our country and around the world.”
As a sign of that respect, Kotak Personal Injury Law is a proud financial sponsor of Wounded Warriors Canada. The not- for-profit organization supports sick and injured members of our armed forces, Veterans, and their family members.
The firm is also an official sponsor of the Brampton Beast Hockey Team, the Peel Regional Children’s Centre and Spectra Community Support Services. The legal profession has also recognized Kotak Law’s contributions to further their aims. At the end of May 2018, Nainesh Kotak will take his seat on the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) Board and serve as the association’s Vice Chair of the Long Term Disability Section.
Kate Baggott's technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review at MIT, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun, and on the Business to Business News Network
Kate is the author of two short story collections.
Kotak Personal Injury Law, Mississauga Office
120 Traders Blvd East, Suite 120
Mississauga Ontario L4Z 2H7
Toll Free: 1‑888‑GO‑KOTAK
Kotak Personal Injury Law, Brampton Office
80 Maritime Ontario Blvd, Suite 240
Brampton Ontario L6S 0E7
Kotak Personal Injury Law, Toronto Office
607 Gerrard Street East, Suite 403
Toronto Ontario M4M 1Y2