Individual Lawsuits

Because there is such a high demand for our services we can only take individual cases in which you have suffered a severe and disabling injury such as brain injury, severe post traumatic stress disorder or paraplegia. Some cases that we could take are from childhood abuse, sexual abuse, bar fights,  drunk drivers and professional negligence.

Because of our heavy caseload we cannot accept individual cases on a contingency basis.    We are only able to take an individual case on an hourly fee basis. If you have an individual lawsuit against Alberta Child Welfare and if you have contacted over 20 lawyers and cannot find a lawyer willing to take your case, then it might be possible to force Alberta Child Welfare to pay your hourly legal fees.  Contact us in writing if you would like us to consider your individual case.

If we might be able to take your individual case, then someone from our office will contact you.  

 

INTRODUCTION TO SUING ALBERTA CHILD WELFARE

If you were involved in Child Welfare legal proceedings as a child or as a parent/guardian, you might have the ability to sue Alberta Child Welfare. If Child Welfare did something wrong or did not do something that they should have, you could have the right to sue Child Welfare. Sometimes Child Welfare might have made one particular mistake, so that the lawsuit against Child Welfare is very unique and individualistic. However, other times, the mistake that Child Welfare makes that allow a person to sue Child Welfare are systemic in nature. In other words, Child Welfare keeps making the same mistake over and over against children and their families. When Child Welfare makes a systemic mistake, it can affect and harm hundreds or thousands of children and their families.

A Class Action against Child Welfare, is a lawsuit that includes many children and families that have been affected by systemic wrongdoing by Child Welfare. By turning one lawsuit into a Class Action, everybody that is affected by the legal issues in the Class Action can receive the benefit of that Class Action. Everyone affected becomes a Class Member. The Class Action is intended to decide all of the legal issues that are the same for all of the Class Members. A Class Action is intended to benefit the chldren and parents and families affected by Child Welfare. When the legal issue is decided in the Class Action, it is decided for everyone. This way a Class Action can resolve the legal issues for a large number of people and can save a great deal of Court resources. A Class Action is not intended to be a way for a lawyer or lawyers to make a lot of money, simply by using a large number of people to maximize the lawyers’ fees. A Class Action is meant to help the Class Members. If a Class Action lawyer does a very good job for all of the Class Members, then because the lawyer has done such a good job for such a large number of people, it is possible for the lawyer to be paid a large fee. In a Class Action, the lawyers fee must be approved at the beginning of the case, when nobody knows if the case will be successful and at the end of the case.

A Class Action is a vey effective way of suing Child Welfare because it can be very difficult for one person to sue Child Welfare because the cost and effort of suing Child Welfare can be very high. Child Welfare is a department of the Government and the Government has massive resources to fight against any individual lawsuit. Therefore, it can be very hard for an individual or a single lawyer to sue Child Welfare for one case. By having a Class Action, it can be possible for many people to sue Child Welfare and for one lawyer to take the chance of suing the Government.

Currently one Child Welfare Class Action against Child Welfare for Failing to Protect Legal Rights has been settled.  If you are a Class Member in that Class Action, the Settlement affects for legal rights.

A new Class Action against Child Welfare for Failing to Make and File Service Plans in Court has been conditionally certified to proceed as a Class Action.   If you are potentially in the Service Plan Class Action, you will soon be given the opportunity to opt out of the Class Action.  A Notice will be published on this website and in major Alberta newspapers in the near future.  This Service Plan Class Action may also affect your rights, if you meet the definition of a Class Member.

If you are in one or both of these Class Actions against Child Welfare, of if you are not part of the Class Actions, you may still have a possible individual lawsuit against Child Welfare, foster parents or others for what happened to you while in the care of Alberta Child Welfare. This could be for suffering sexual or physical abuse while in care from a foster parent or from some other employee of Child Welfare.  Individual lawsuits would be over legal issues that are not part of the Class Actions.

 

Compensation for Victims of Crime

The Victims of Crime Financial Benefits Program (VCFB) is a government run organization. It is designed to compensate you for the injuries that you acquired from being a victim of a crime. The more severe your injuries, the more compensation you receive. We help you get the maximum amount of compensation possible. You can get compensation for physical and psychological injuries as a result of a crime. Crimes include some of the following: Child abuse, sexual assault, assault.

The abuse that you suffered probably happened years ago. You probably didn’t hear about the program until dealing with our office. If you have symptoms of depression or anxiety, you most likely have never been to a psychologist for an assessment of the injuries you suffered as a result of the abuse. Perhaps you never reported to police because you were too scared. Perhaps you’ve never told anyone. It has been our experience that when clients apply on their own to the program, they often get denied or get a small percentage of what they could have gotten, due to technicalities.

In order to apply to the program there must be proof that the crime occurred. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the offender must have been reported to police, charged or convicted. We are here to assist you in proving that the crime occurred while considering many different options. This may mean having to report to police, even if it happened many years ago. We are here to support you through this process and can discuss all options with you.

There must also be proof that your injuries are as a result of the abuse you suffered. We help you prove this.

There is a 2 year limitation period as to which applications are supposed to be submitted. There are extension of this limitation period and we help you prove this.

Reporting to police, where do I start?

Go to any police service in your community. Let the receptionist know that you want to make a report and that you were a victim of a crime. They will give you a document to fill out regarding the crime.

If you are reporting to a police station in a city where the crime did not occur, inform the police station that the crime occurred elsewhere and ask them to forward it to the

Appropriate RCMP detachment or police station rather than go all the way to the city in which it occurred.

If I don’t report, will my application get denied?

Applications often get denied when the victim does not report the abuse to the police. However, reporting the abuse does not guarantee that your application will not be denied.

Reporting to the police helps your case if there is enough evidence of the abuse to get your offender charged and convicted. Even if your offender is charged, VCFB may still deny your application if they were not convicted of a criminal code offence.

There is no time limit for reporting sexual abuse. Reporting abuse that occurred over 20 or 30 years ago is difficult to investigate and it is even more difficult to get someone convicted.

It is essential to report the crime to the police and to obtain a police file number.

What happens after I report to police?

After you go to the police station and fill out a report, they may begin to collect evidence as part of their investigation. If they are able to collect evidence then they may press charges and a conviction may follow. The police may also do nothing if the case is too old.

What happens if I receive a decision from VCFB that I am not happy with?

We can assist you in requesting a review to the Criminal Injuries Review Board.

What is the Criminal Injuries Review Board?

The Criminal Injuries Review Board (CIRB) reviews decisions from the Victims of Crime Financial Benefits Program. If you receive a decision from VCFB that you don’t like and that we don’t think is fair, we may assist you in requesting a review of your decision to the CIRB.

After we submit a request for review we prepare your file for a hearing with the CIRB. We speak at the hearing on your behalf and encourage you to attend. During the hearing you are given the opportunity to speak if you wish, and although we understand it is stressful, it can sometimes be empowering to finally have the chance to speak about what you have been through. Above all else, we are there to support you through the hearing process.

Once the hearing is complete we wait a few months to receive a new decision from the CIRB. If again, you are unsatisfied with the decision and we feel you are entitled to higher compensation, then we can appeal this decision through the Court of Appeal.

What is I applied on my own and was not happy with the result?

If you applied for compensation on your own and were not successful or felt you did not receive the correct amount of compensation, we may be able to assist you to still have your decision reviewed. However, there is a 30 day deadline to Appeal.