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Helping personal injury victims in Guelph put their lives back together

Catherine Shearer is dedicated to fighting for fairness for people during one of the most vulnerable periods of their lives
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Growing up in Guelph, Catherine Shearer felt blessed to have her grandmother living with their family. During that period her grandmother was in car accident that left her with life-altering injuries. Shearer said, “She suffered spinal cord injuries in a serious car accident, and as a result, she was never able to return to work.” Living on a fixed income, it became apparent that the settlement that her grandmother received did not fully compensate her.

This accident was an event that shaped Shearer’s views on personal injury issues and propelled her to want to advocate for victims.

Pursued a career in law

Shearer graduated from law school out of province and articled at a boutique law firm in London, Ontario. When she came back home to Guelph, she joined a law firm that did not have any personal injury lawyers on staff. Passionate about wanting to help the most vulnerable, Shearer created a personal injury practice at that firm, which grew rapidly.

Shearer currently practices personal injury law at McKenzie Lake Lawyers, focusing on car accident, long-term disability benefit denials, and medical malpractice. She is a wife and mom to two young children, a dog mom and wellness enthusiast. Family is extremely important to Shearer, which was the primary reason she returned to Guelph.

She appreciates the camaraderie among the small legal community in Guelph. “Even though we are often on opposing sides of the table, everybody gets along very well.”

Compassion for victims

With the trauma experienced by her grandmother in the back of her mind, Catherine went to work advocating for victims.

She is dedicated to fighting for dignity and fairness for her clients in what can be a dehumanizing system. She said, “You really are helping people, and I think that’s what drew me to this area of law, because you are making a difference in somebody’s life. It is really meaningful work.”

In Ontario there is a hybrid system where there are no-fault accident benefits and the right to sue an at-fault party. Litigation is typically a long, drawn-out process. The no-fault accident benefits scheme does allow for more immediate access to treatment and basic income replacement if you cannot work. There have been various changes to the accident benefits package that as Shearer see it have eroded over time. For example, income replacement is capped at $400 a week, when most people earn more than that. This cap at $400 per week has been in place since 1996 and does not change with inflation.

Giving back to the community

Shearer is secretary of the board for the Wellington Law Association, a community connector with the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington. She is a founding board member and vice-president of Legal Education for the Birth Rights Bar Association Canada, and a fundraising committee member for the Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington. Shearer is also a mentor and coach to other lawyers through the Law Society of Ontario and through the Women’s Law Association of Ontario.

She has created a mental health podcast for lawyers. She’s an advocate for women and children, and she fights for the rights of the vulnerable inside and outside of the courtroom

Best Advice

Shearer tells victims that no matter what happens, whether it’s a house fire, car accident, or property insurance claim, seek out legal advice.

She said, “Anytime that you would be receiving compensation from an insurance claim, no matter how trivial you think it might be, contact a lawyer. You will get a free consultation. You will learn what your rights are. and you will be able to protect yourself moving forward.”

If you delay, there are time limits in place that might prevent you from seeking compensation later. If you’re injured in a slip and fall for example, you have 60 days to put the occupier of the premises on notice. People often delay filing a claim because they hope they’re going to get better.

Catherine Shearer’s job is helping victims and families who have been shattered by injury, put their lives back together. She is proud of the support she has provided to people facing some of the most difficult times in their lives.  Learn more about Catherine here.

Contact Catherine Shearer at (226) 203-1243 or Email: Catherine.Shearer@mckenzielake.com