Falling furniture is a risk to kids’ health

In January 2017, the internet was thrilled by a viral video captured by a child monitor camera that showed a two-year-old Utah boy helping his twin brother escape from underneath a chest of drawers. According to the BBC, the boys’ parents were hesitant to release the video, but in the end decided it could help raise awareness of the dangers posed by unsecured furniture.

Their decision was a good one: falling furniture, especially dressers and televisions, are a common and growing source of injury for children in North America. In some cases, an Oakville product liability or personal injury lawyer may be able to help you access compensation for your child’s injuries. Last December, Ikea paid $50-million to three American families whose young children were killed by falling Malm dressers. The families, according to the Financial Post, “argued that Ikea knew about the danger the Malm dressers posed.”

While a personal injury lawyer can help you recover from the trauma of an injured child, there are important steps you can take to avoid falling-furniture injuries altogether, including anchoring your television to the wall.

Falling TVs have become a profound risk to the health of Canadian toddlers. According to a 2015 paper published by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, falling televisions are causing children ‘an increasing number of serious head and neck injuries.’

“TVs are often placed on unstable bases, placed on high furniture like dressers, which aren’t designed for TVs, or not properly secured to the wall,” explained Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s and the paper’s lead author, in a release. “Meanwhile, parents are getting busier and busier and don’t have as much time to supervise children, so it’s not surprising that these injuries are getting reported more often.”

The surge in falling-TV injuries can be attributed to increased ownership – 95 per cent of Canadian households now own a TV – and the affordability of larger units. The growing prevalence of these injuries applies across North America, as well: according to Global News, falling televisions sent almost 200,000 children to the emergency room over 20 years in the United States.

St. Michael’s recommends a number of steps to improve safety in Canadian homes. Firstly, they advocate for improved awareness by children, parents, teachers, and medical professionals on the dangers of falling furniture. They recommend that homeowners fasten or secure all furniture to the wall, when given by the option by manufacturers, and that they resist leaving toys or remote controls on high surfaces in homes with small children.

If you or your child has been seriously hurt by a falling TV, dresser, or other piece of furniture, contact a Will Davidson LLP personal injury lawyer to learn more about your legal options. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to help you better understanding your situation.

Dog bite case sets new Ontario precedent

As many as 500,000 people are bitten by dogs every year in Canada, far and away the most common form of animal attack. Generally, dogs’ owners are considered liable for damages sustained by the victims of the attacks, even in cases where the victim provoked the animal. Now, a recent appeals court decision has expanded the definition of the word “owner,” and the ruling could have an interesting impact on the way people care for their pets. If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog attack or an attack by another pet, contact a Will Davidson LLP Oakville dog bite lawyer to find out how we can help.

The case in question, Wilk v. Arbour, was a dispute between an Ontario woman and a man she was in relationship with who owned a nine-year-old dog. While the woman took the dog for a walk, the dog suffered a seizure, slipped on some ice, and fell into a ditch. She attempted to enter the ditch to retrieve the dog, but slipped and fell. She collided with the dog, which bit her. She lost part of her right thumb as a result.

The dog-walker sued the dog’s owner, who she claimed was responsible for the bite as he had not fed the dog or given the dog its medication that day. Ontario’s lower court agreed with the walker, finding that she was entitled to compensation for her injuries. The owner appealed, and asked for the case to be thrown out.

“The whole case,” FindLaw Canada’s Miriam Yosowich reports, “rested on the question [of] whether the dog walker was considered in possession of and owner of the dog at the time she was walking him.”

As we mentioned earlier, and as an experienced dog bite lawyer can tell you, dog owners are usually liable for damages caused by dog attacks, and only non-owners can be compensated for their injuries. In other words, if a person is attacked by their own dog, that person has no grounds for a personal injury claim.

The Ontario Court of Appeals found on January 13 2017 that the person who is “in physical possession and control over a dog just before it bites or attacks another person or animal” should be considered that dog’s “owner.” Based on this definition, the plaintiff was considered the dog’s owner at the time she was bitten, and was denied compensation.

This case sets an important precedent in Ontario. Dog-walkers provide an important service to pet-owners who work 9-to-5 jobs and are unable to walk their animal during the day. According to the Wilk v. Arbour ruling, people who walk dogs for a living are responsible for the aggressive behaviour of those animals. Will this lead some dog-walkers to abandon their job?

Bitten by a dog? A Will Davidson LLP dog bite lawyer can help

Dog attacks are unfortunately common in Ontario. Although most pets are well-behaved and bring great joy to their families, their owners must understand that they will be held responsible for any damages their dog causes. If you’ve been hurt by a dog, contact a Will Davidson LLP Oakville dog bite lawyer today to learn how we can help.

Who is liable for the injuries I suffer at a gym or fitness club?

January and February are traditionally busy month at Ontario’s gyms and fitness clubs. According to a recent CBC article, about 10 per cent of GoodLife members join in the first month of the year, while the Better Business Bureau believes gym activity in January surges 50 per cent from December. At Kitchener, Ontario’s World Gym, up to 70 per cent of members join in January.

“We’ll have the New Year’s resolutioners from this year, and then we’ll have some from last year coming back again… people that have had their membership, maybe not used it as much as they intended from say March [until] now, and re-starting back up again,” World Gym manager Andrew Kennery told the CBC.

While this annual surge in gym activity bodes well for the health of Ontarians in general, Ontario personal injury lawyers understand that going to the gym poses risks of its own, especially for inexperienced athletes. While your risk of injury is small, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from damages.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 62,700 injuries related to exercise equipment, including 24,000 from treadmills, are treated in American emergency rooms each year. While not all of these will occur at membership health clubs, they underscore the need to exercise caution while exercising with machines. Before you join a gym, make sure to take a tour and try to determine the condition of the equipment on offer. Because you will have to sign a waiver before joining, the ability of Ontario personal injury lawyers to access compensation for your injuries may be limited – your best bet will be to avoid badly equipped facilities altogether.

Depending on the conditions of your membership agreement and the circumstances of your injury, your fitness club may be held liable for the damages you suffer. In situations where a gym’s owner and staff show no regard for the members’ safety, your injuries may be tied to the facility’s negligence. If you are injured under these conditions, make sure to act quickly after you are injured: take pictures of the equipment, recruit fellow members as witnesses, and contact Will Davidson’s team of Ontario personal injury lawyers as soon as possible.

Beyond performing a careful inspection of your club’s exercise equipment, there are variety of steps gym-goers can take to avoid injury:

  • Always warm up. Your body needs to ease into rigorous exercise. Stretch, ride an exercise bicycle, or jump rope before and after each workout to avoid shocking your body.
  • Know your limits! Chances are you’re not training for the Olympics; if your body is in pain, it’s time to stop pushing. Listen to what your muscles and joints are telling you to avoid doing serious harm.
  • Eat well before and after every workout, and keep well hydrated throughout.
  • Talk to a professional before embarking on any kind of training regimen. Exercises like weight lifting may seem intuitive, but take experience to master. Your gym will have trainers and fitness advisers on staff – avail yourself of their services.

If despite your best efforts you suffer an injury at a gym or fitness club, Will Davidson LLP’s team of Ontario personal injury lawyers are here to help. Give us a call right away to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

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