Provincewide free program for soldiers claiming benefits
TORONTO, Dec. 15 /CNW/ - Members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) today announced a new, free legal service - Trial Lawyers for Veterans - for vets seeking disability benefits from the Canadian government.
This free service is provided by more than 40 of the association's members as "a way for those of us who are privileged to serve the legal system to say 'thank you' to those who serve the country," says Dale Orlando, the association's president.
Orlando made the announcement at a news conference today, accompanied by Trial Lawyers for Veterans organizer Patrick Brown, OTLA past president Bruce Hillyer, and Michael Blais, founder and president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
"This generous offer from Ontario's trial lawyers will provide significant help to many veterans, who still need to navigate the federal administrative rules and bureaucracy to get the benefits they have earned," Blais said.
Under proposed legislative changes, Canadian soldiers seriously injured in the line of duty would receive a minimum of $40,000 per year in government support. Veterans who receive a lump-sum payment could also elect to receive an annual sum, under the proposed changes to the New Veterans Charter.
"Even with the changes, Canada's veterans need legal assistance to make sure their claims are assessed and dealt with fairly," Brown said. "We're pleased to be able to provide this help to them for free."
Veterans' claims can become complicated if they apply for benefits and receive an initial offer they consider too low to compensate for their sacrifice on behalf of Canadians. If this happens, the veteran must launch an appeal, which can be time consuming, stressful and difficult for soldiers and families of limited means.
Cases typically are administered by Veterans Affairs Canada with appeal to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
"These veterans fight for our country and they really should not have to fight for these benefits," said Brown, who will chair Trial Lawyers for Veterans.
Hillyer said their membership has been moved by the stories from individual veterans.
"We've heard about a number of cases where an injured veteran has applied for benefits and been denied. They have subsequently appealed and their appeals have also been denied," said Hillyer.
This free program is offered across Ontario for all veterans. Those seeking free assistance need simply call Trial Lawyers for Veterans toll free 1-800-567-3047 or visit www.otla.com and click to the Trial Lawyers for Veterans page.
About the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association - www.otla.com
The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) was formed in 1991, by lawyers acting for plaintiffs. Our purpose is to promote access to justice for all Ontarians, preserve and improve the civil justice system, and advocate for the rights of those who have suffered injury and losses as the result of wrongdoing by others, while at the same time advocating for safety initiatives.
For further information: For further information:
Ontario Trial Lawyers Association
John Karapita, Director of Public Affairs