“Helping others and trying to ensure people are treated fairly is something I have always felt strongly about,”
proudly declares Lesly Joseph, the Toronto-born Personal Injury and Insurance Litigation lawyer who is one of the six partners at Ottawa-based Tierney Stauffer LLP. “I saw law as a field that would allow me to provide concrete and tangible assistance to those in need.”
After graduating from the University of Windsor’s Law School, Joseph fulfilled Ontario’s articling requirements by joining the versatile Carling Avenue firm, which also serves Arnprior, Cornwall, Kingston, and North Bay. “The firm provided exposure to all areas of law and a very hands-on litigation experience,” recounts Joseph. “After I was called to the Bar, I joined them as an associate lawyer.”
Joseph worked in family law, employment law, and commercial litigation. These days, while she’s also dealing in medical malpractice, her primary focus is personal injury. It’s the perfect fit for her abiding sense of humanity and community. “This is an area of law where the individuals are particularly vulnerable,” Joseph explains. “When someone has been involved in a life-altering accident, they’re struggling in all aspects of their life, from employment or schooling to work around the house, such as cleaning, making meals, getting groceries, moving snow, etc. They also struggle to look after family members, including kids or elderly parents. On top of that, they’re often required to fill out forms and make important decisions under these already stressful circumstances. That’s how we’re able to help: we can step in and deal with the immediate needs that people have.”
Joseph and her colleagues may find themselves particularly busy over the coming months. Winter is a veritable heyday for a variety of personal injury scenarios: slips and falls, vehicular collisions, and single vehicle accidents due to poorly maintained roads and highways. Then, there are the incidents related to recreational activity and social gatherings. Ottawans are particularly vulnerable to the former, given the high number of hiking trails, ski hills, and other outdoor spaces throughout the city and the surrounding areas.
“In cases where an individual is injured in a winter sporting activity such as skiing, snowboarding, or using an ATV,” says Joseph, “there may be grounds for a claim to seek compensation for medical and rehabilitation costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and out of pocket expenses.”
Pursuant to the Occupier’s Liability Act, the occupier of the premises is legally obligated to ensure that anyone who enters is reasonably safe. While every individual should conduct their affairs in a cautionary manner, they’re entitled to sue for damages or losses should injury occur as the direct, proven result of occupier negligence.
Social host liability is a fuzzier matter. In Ontario, there are no clear-cut rules. The courts review each case on an individual basis. That said, any social host—someone hosting a party on their property or a property over which they have control—has clearly defined responsibilities. “As a host,” clarifies Joseph, “it’s prudent to ensure that guests are not engaging in dangerous activity on your property or after leaving, such as driving while intoxicated.”
This year, the first holiday season free of many of the COVID restrictions, social occasions will be on an upswing. The odds of Ottawans being injured are higher than winters past. Joseph encourages anyone who might find themselves in such a situation to reach out to her firm for an investigative dialogue. Part of Joseph’s attraction to personal injury law was its allowance for lawyers to work on a contingency fee basis, endorsing Joseph’s diehard belief in legal access for all.
“We can answer your questions and help you at the initial stages of any potential claim,” Joseph reminds prospective clients. “Our office has many years of experience in this area. We’re aware of your rights and can help alleviate some of the stress you may be dealing with. We know all the players in the industry and can do our best to obtain fair compensation for what you have lost.”
While there’s no obligation to pursue a lawsuit or claim, Joseph reminds people that it’s good policy to act as quickly as possible, in order to meet any critical claim deadlines.
When not fighting for victims of negligently groomed ski hills or careless bartenders, Joseph volunteers for a number of area charities. “I’m engaged in different areas of volunteer work, though they’re not all directly related to my area of practice. I’m fortunate to be educated in the law and to have the skills and knowledge that I do. I feel it’s important to use those skills in our community to help others.”
By Dan Lalande