Announcing Our New Cordova Bay Law Office Location

Velletta & Company is pleased to announce our opening of a new office location in the heart of Cordova Bay. This satellite office provides a much more convenient option for those in neighborhoods north of Victoria proper (Saanich, Broadmead, Brentwood Bay, Cordova Bay, Saanichton). Our new law office is in the IDA pharmacy plaza, beside Edward Jones Investments. 

Lawyer Graham Weeks will be staffing the office full time, providing expert advice in the areas of business and entrepreneur lawcorporate/commercial and residential real estate law and the planning and probate of estates. However, if you are seeking advice or representation for other legal issues, from family law to litigation, any of the other lawyers on Velletta’s legal team can arrange to meet with you at the Cordova Bay office. 

The two Velletta & Company offices as shown in Google Maps

Lots of free parking and easy access off Cordova Bay road makes this location very convenient for anyone not wanting to deal with downtown traffic. We’ve also focused on convenience with our office hours for the Cordova bay location: Monday to Thursday from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Friday from noon to 4:00pm. Being able to swing by the law office after work or perhaps combining a visit with a trip to Mattick’s farm (just up the road) is very handy.

Initial consultations are free, and serves such as notarizations are reasonably priced, and nice and easy to obtain given the small, intimate and easily accessible office.

Drop in anytime to say hello to Graham!

The new Cordova Bay office as seen from Cordova Bay Rd.
Inside the new office
Inside the new office

Our Newest Lawyer: Natalia M. Velletta

Velletta & Company officially welcomes Natalia M. Velletta as the newest lawyer to our firm.

Natalia joined Velletta & Company in May, 2016 and has since successfully completed one year of Articles and called to the Bar on December 1, 2017, as a practicing lawyer in British Columbia. Natalia completed her formal induction in front of the Supreme Court of British Columbia at the Victoria Courthouse on March 15, 2018.

 

Natalia Velletta Natalia obtained her Juris Doctorate from Bond University in Queensland, Australia. Bond University’s Juris Doctorate is an accelerated program that provided Natalia with experience in both Canadian and Australian Law. Receiving an advanced education at a prestigious, international law school has provided Natalia with a unique, global perspective, which gives her greater insight into all types of commercial transactions.

 

During her time at Velletta & Company Natalia has established a diverse Solicitor’s practice and focuses primarily on the areas of:

 

  • Corporate and Commercial transactions;
  • Wills and Estates;
  • Real Estate transactions; and
  • Personal Injury including motor vehicle accidents.

 

With a specialty in Corporate and Commercial transactions, Natalia specifically enjoys mergers and acquisitions, having successfully bought and sold many companies and businesses for her clients. Natalia also has a passion for representing plaintiffs in motor vehicle accidents and frequently negotiates with ICBC to achieve fair and justified compensation for her clients.

 

At Velletta & Company, Natalia wishes to develop her Solicitor’s practice and to continuingly broaden her scope of experience. Natalia is determined, hard-working, and prides herself on offering the very best service for each and every client.  She is friendly and approachable and is always keen to take on new clients.

Outside the practice of law, Natalia enjoys staying active by exploring beautiful British Columbia and exotic locations around the world. She has many accomplishments including ballet, scuba diving and multiple, week-long hikes over the rugged West Coast Trail. She has a passion for photography, cooking, and camping.

We Are Hiring | Articled Student for May 2018

Velletta & Company is currently seeking an articled student to start in the May 2018

Start Date:  May 2018

 

Information:

Velletta & Company is a full service law firm in Victoria BC with many practice areas including:

  • Business Law
  • Civil Litigation
  • Employment Law
  • Family Law
  • Plaintiff Personal Injury Law
  • Wills and Estates
  • Real Estate Law

We are looking for an articling student for the 2018/2019 year.

 

We offer a well-rounded articling experience, supportive work environment and competitive pay. We offer a competitive, challenging, and diverse articling experience to motivated students demonstrating academic achievement.

 

Please submit a cover letter, resume, law school transcripts and reference letters to the attention of

 

Firm Contact Information:

 

  1. Eric Pedersen

4th Floor – 931 Fort Street

Victoria, BC  V8V 3K3

www.victorialaw.ca

pedersen@victorialaw.ca

 

Applications will be accepted by email to the above address.  We are accepting applications immediately.

Recent Court of Appeal Ruling on Uninsured Motorist Benefits

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal released its decision in Schoenhalz v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2017 BCCA 289 .  In that case, the court considered the availability of uninsured motorist benefits pursuant to section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.

In British Columbia, all motorists are required to carry at least a minimum amount of third party liability insurance.  This means that when someone is injured as a result of a negligently operated motor vehicle, the injured party can almost always count on a pool of funding to be available from which they may recover an award of damages.  Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act essentially acts as a failsafe in our mandatory insurance regime – for those rare cases where the motorist is uninsured, the injured party may make a claim for Section 20 benefits to fill in the gap where recovery from the negligent motorist is not possible.  However, as this case shows, Section 20 benefits have their own limitations to be aware of.

Section 91 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act limits recovery in certain cases:

Limitation on recovery in relation to stolen vehicles

91 (1) This section applies to a person who

(a) suffered bodily injury, death or loss of or damage to property that is caused by the use or operation of a vehicle, and

(b) at the time of the accident as a result of which the bodily injury, death or loss of or damage to property was suffered, was an operator of, or a passenger in or on, a vehicle that the person knew or ought to have known was being operated without the consent of the owner, and, in the case of a leased motor vehicle, the lessee.

(2) Despite the Negligence Act and section 100 of this Act,

(b) a person referred to in subsection (1) is not entitled to any recovery from the corporation under section 20.

Essentially, an injured party is barred from making a section 20 claim if they were a passenger in a vehicle that they knew, or ought to have known was being operated without the owner’s consent.  In this case, ICBC was successful in arguing that the plaintiff was not entitled to section 20 benefits.  At the time of the accident, she was 17 years old, and was a passenger in a vehicle driven by a 15-year-old.  At trial, the judge found that because of the plaintiff’s young age, she couldn’t have turned her mind to whether or not the vehicle was driven without consent, and therefore she was not barred from recovering pursuant to section 20.

The Court of Appeal disagreed, and found that a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s circumstances ought to have known that the vehicle was driven without consent.

This is an important case, as it clarifies the test to be followed when considering the section 91 exception.  The court is to follow an objective approach, considering what a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s circumstances ought to know, as a opposed to the subjective approach employed by the trial judge.

What to Bring to your First Meeting with a Lawyer

Lawyer Meeting

At Velletta & Company, our number one goal is to provide each of our clients with exceptional customer service. This starts right from the very first meeting. Throughout your matter, you may find yourself in our office or in contact with us quite frequently and we want to make sure we start the relationship off on the right foot!

Here are 5 things that you as the client can bring to make the process go even smoother.

 

  1. Two pieces of photo ID.

We need to confirm that you are you! Your ID is necessary for us to have relevant information about you that relates to the case such as your legal name, drivers license #, etc.   Examples of acceptable ID include Driver’s License, Passports and Medical Services Card (with photo ID).

 

  1. Pen & Paper

We will cover a number of things in our first meeting and there may be certain steps or documentation that we need you to follow through with—so note-taking in our meetings is always encouraged! Whether it is a pen and paper or notes on your cell phone—anything works.

 

  1. A List of Questions

Before your meeting write down any questions you may have. We are happy to answer them all and to help you understand the process that will take place. We want to make sure the process is as stress-free for you as possible.

 

  1. Relevant Documents

Bring any documents you currently have relating to your case. These may be a range of things and will vary based on your case. But the general rule of thumb is that if it has any relevance at all to your case, bring it in.

 

  1. Method of Payment

Please ensure that you bring a method of payment with you. We will notify you before the meeting of our consultation or retainer fees if they apply.

 

By bringing these 5 items with you to your first meeting we can ensure the process goes even smoother for both parties involved. We can also dive right into the details of your case and begin the steps necessary to ensure the best outcome possible!

U.S. says Same-Sex Couples Will Get Equal Treatment

In a major policy change, the United States Department of State announced that it will give equal treatment to visa applications of gays and lesbians who want to travel or immigrate with their partner. The shift will allow the department to start processing requests from married gay couples the same way it handles those from heterosexual spouses.

The move, which follows similar action last month by U.S. immigration officials, would help U.S. citizens live and travel with their same-sex spouse in the United State as well as allow married couples from other countries to visit the United States.

It will mostly affect married same-sex couples living outside the United States. For example, if one spouse has a visa to travel to the Unites States for work or study, their spouse can apply to come along.

It would also help gay Americans living in other countries bring their spouse to the United States, they said.

As long as a marriage has been performed in the jurisdiction that recognizes it, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws. Since Canada recognizes same-sex marriages, any same-sex couple married in Canada will be eligible to travel or move to the United States on exactly the same conditions as heterosexual couples.

Botched operation costs $2.9 million – Teenage girl suffers brain damage while in anesthetic recovery

The family of Megan Gallant, who suffered catastrophic brain damage in 2001 during a minor operation, was awarded a $2,925,000 judgment against the Capital Health Region in a decision handed down Friday.

“The family is very pleased with the award, but it’s one of the those difficult situations,” said the Gallants’ lawyer, Michael Velletta. “It’s hard to feel celebratory about this, but it brings to an end a lot of uncertainty and a lot of difficulties that they’ve faced in providing care for Megan. Now they will be able to provide a much-higher level of care and will have stability into the future.

“But nothing will bring their daughter back, nothing will make whole their life, no amount of money. They realize that.”

Megan was 15 years old when she suffered brain damage while in the post-anesthetic recovery room at Victoria General Hospital. According to her lawyers, she was left unattended for a period of time while still under the effect of anesthetics.

Spokesman Graham Sanderson of the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which includes the former Capital Health Region, said he could confirm only that the organization’s lawyers indicated a confidential settlement was reached in the Gallant case.

“It was a tragic incident and our sympathy goes out to the family,” said Sanderson, VIHA’s regional director for risk management.

Velletta said the award approved by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline Dorgan is at the high end of what is given for such injury cases in the province. The total includes the cost of future care, future loss of income, loss of marriage, legal expenses and the highest amount available for pain and suffering in Canada — $295,000.

Megan’s mother, Yvette, has been caring for her at home since December, 2001, and the judgment ensures she can continue, Velletta said.

“This judgment will enable her to obtain a better, more suitable home that’s outfitted specially for (Megan).”

He said Megan requires “total care”, including visits by a variety of therapists.

“We fought hard to prevent her from having to go into institutional care.”

Velletta said the case waged on Megan’s behalf was complex, hard-fought and technical, involving testimony from over 40 experts.

One area of emphasis for him and co-counsel Gregory Rhone was the “lapse in care” that was involved, he said.

“The family, and ourselves as well, wanted to ensure through this process a higher standard of care, and wanted to bring home that message and hold the parties accountable and responsible for the benefit of future patients.”

Hotel 75% to blame for woman’s fall, court rules

A freak accident on a 13-centimetre-high step at [a Victoria area hotel] permanently changed E.N’s life.

The mother of three went from being an active businesswoman to relying on a cane or brace to walk, after her ankle was shattered when she was leaving the historic hotel on March 2, 1990.

But a B.C. Supreme Court decision Thursday has gone a long way to making the 45-year-old woman fell better.

“I couldn’t stop crying, I was so happy,” said E.N. after hearing Justice Jacqueline Dorgan’s decision that the [Victoria area hotel] was 75 per cent liable for the accident.

Dorgan gave the decision after reserving judgment following the three-day trial this month.

At issue in the trial was liability, or whose fault it was for the fall.

It was E.N.’s first time at the hotel, said her lawyer, Aaron Gordon.

E.N. and her husband had chosen the waterfront hotel as an ideal spot for a welcome-home dinner with her son, because of the view.

After eating in [the dining room], the family left by the front door about 6:30 p.m. E.N. had not had anything to drink.

When she went out the Tudor-style front door, she did not realize there was a drop of about 13 centimetres.

She put her foot out the door and it was as if she had “stepped on air.” She landed on her ankle, shattering three bones.

Though E.N. has had two operations, the ankle has not healed properly. She walks with a cane or a leg brace, and has had to give up tennis and dancing.

Because she cannot stand for any length of time, E.N. said, she also had to close the import-export business she was just starting when the accident happened.

The Saanich woman has gone to Toronto and her native Ecuador seeking medical help. “They tell me I will just have to live with it. It makes me very sad. My life has completely changed.”

In her judgment, Dorgan found that the door and step were dangerous. She found that two small signs at the side of the door were “discreet” and that E.N. did not see them.

The judge found that E.N. was 25 per cent responsible for the accident, because she had entered by the same door an hour previous to leaving, and ought to have had some awareness of the entrance.

Gordon said there had been previous incidents at that same doorway where people leaving were injured. In 1987, a woman in her 80s broke her leg after falling at the step.

The hotel log noted that two other people had fallen on the step, but were n not injured.

The hotel had plans to level the steps as far back as 1987, but it was not done because there wasn’t a convenient time to close the building, court heard during the trial.

Hotel general manager K.W. said the plans were part of overall renovation at the building.

The step was levelled in 1990, about two months after E.N.’s fall.

“This was completely unrelated to her fall,” K.W. said in an interview. “This was not an area that was considered to be a safety hazard. If it was, it would have been looked after immediately.”

K.W. said it is common for buildings of the hotel’s vintage — it was built in 1927 — to have a small step outside the front entrance.

[note: The hotel appealed the Judge’s decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the appeal.]

Railways Lose Shield Against Civil Lawsuits

Canadian railways lost a historic privilege and Potentially billions of dollars yesterday when the Supreme Court of Canada ended a special rule shielding them from the full force of civil law suits.

The court found that while railways still bind a sprawling country from sea to sea, they no longer deserve special protection when their activities cause harm to citizens.

Yesterday’s case pitted Canadian Pacific Ltd. and Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Co. against Murray Ryan, a Victoria motorcyclist who was left with permanent knee, hip and back injuries after a 1987 accident.

The accident took place when M.R. was forced to steer across a notorious stretch of railway track down the centre of Victoria’s Store Street. M.R., 32, was thrown over the front of the vehicle when his front wheel became trapped in a portion of disused track.

“The special status enjoyed by railway companies’ under the law of negligence can no longer be justified in principle, and the time has come for that rule to be set aside,” the Supreme Court said yesterday.

The decision could easily end up costing the railways billions of dollars in repairs and renovations, Aaron Gordon, M.R. ‘s lawyer, said in an interview. He said witnesses for CP at the trial made reference to about 15,000 to 20,000 crossings — and many of them may now require safety modifications.

“It is an extraordinary decision” Mr. Gordon said. “They are going to have to examine every aspect of their operations and assess whether they are creating a danger or hazard for third parties.”

He said an important offshoot of the decision is that cities and railways have been given notice by the Supreme Court that in designing and creating thoroughfare, bicycles and motorcycles can no longer be blithely ignored.

In researching the case, Mr. Gordon said he was astonished and appalled to discover that numerous similar accidents involving bicycles and motorcycles had taken place on Store Street, dating back as far as 1926.

“We are talking about a long, long time people have been putting up with this nonsense,” Mr. Gordon said. “And the only reason was because the railways had immunity.”

“At the time of the accident, I had all my hopes and dreams wrapped up in one package,” M.R. said in an interview yesterday. “Then, it was all just sucked out of me. I don’t really have any future goals or anything to look forward to. I just hope I’ll be able to lead a comfortable life.”

M.R. said his ambitions to keep moving up the job ladder on oil-well rigs in Alberta ended abruptly. His fiancée left him and he was forced onto welfare. With his lawsuit now heading back to the BC Supreme Court, the remaining issue of the amount of damages will be argued and resolved.

The chief question facing the Supreme Court in the appeal was whether railways should be able to escape liability simply by complying with existing statutes. A judge or jury was barred from finding the companies negligent provided they adhered to these standards.

“It excused railway companies in most cases from the ordinary obligation of prudence which governs other members of society,” Mr. Justice Jack Major wrote for the Court.

“The roots of the special rule reach back to the turn of the century, when railways occupied a position of unparalleled economic and social importance to the development of Canada.”

Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway co. built the Store Street tracks in 1907.They were later leased by Canadian Pacific Ltd. In maintaining the tracks, the railways used standards created for highway crossings. These standards permitted a gap that was easily wide enough to trap a motorcycle or bicycle tire.

In its decision yesterday, the Supreme Court restored the original trial judge’s finding that the railways were liable for negligence.