Avoid accidents during construction season in the GTA

 

Spring has officially arrived in Ontario! Across Canada, this transition is cause for annual celebration: the heavy boots and jackets are put away, the days get longer, and cottage season is right around the corner.

But as drivers in Oakville, Toronto, and the rest of the GTA are well aware, summer doesn’t come without its hardships, and chief among those is road construction. The region’s population is surging and its infrastructure is struggling to keep up, which means commuters can expect another summer of jackhammers and congestion.

Unfortunately, it may also mean a busy season for motor vehicle accident lawyers. Construction zones are a risky environment for drivers, workers, and pedestrians alike, and motorists must take extra caution to avoid inflicting injury on themselves or others. Let’s have a look at some measures you can take to avoid accidents.

Slow down

“There is a reason speed fines double in construction zones – to help foster a safe work environment for Ontario’s construction workers,” said OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair in a 2016 release from the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA).

Road workers aren’t the only people that benefit from reduced speeds in construction zones. These work environments can be chaotic spaces, and travelling through them at high speeds reduces your ability to react to sudden impediments on the road. If you need to slam on your breaks, you put the cars behind you at risk; if you lose control of your vehicle, workers and pedestrians in the vicinity could be hurt. When you encounter a construction zone this summer, take your time and trust that the reduced speed is posted for a reason.

Stay alert

Law enforcement, motor vehicle accident lawyers and other advocacy groups have worked hard to highlight the dangers of distracted driving: cell phones, laptops, books, or passengers that take your eyes off the road significantly increase your chance of injury. This is especially true in construction zones, which are less stable environments than empty highways.

As you approach work zones this summer, end your hands-free phone call, turn down the baseball game on the radio, and devote your full attention to the task at hand.

Treat construction zones as if they were your own workplace

This tip comes directly from the ORBA, who said in its May 2016 release that “construction zones are workplaces and should be treated with respect and consideration for their workers.”

The motor vehicle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP couldn’t agree more: road workers, especially on routes where vehicles travel at high speeds, are in an inherently vulnerable position. As you navigate the construction zone, follow the workers’ instructions, obey all visible signage, and remain patient. When planning your route, leave extra time to navigate any road construction you know you will encounter.

Call the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP

If, despite these precautions, you or someone you know suffers an injury while driving through a construction zone this summer, make sure to contact the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options.

Do concussions impair your driving ability?

Concussions are an enigmatic injury. They are difficult to diagnose, despite being quite common, and can produce an array of symptoms or, in some cases, lack of symptoms. And while a standalone concussion is unlikely to cause lasting harm, multiple concussions over a short or long period of time can cause serious health issues and, in rare cases death. If a head injury is causing you lasting discomfort or impairment, consider researching some local brain injury lawyers to get a better grasp of your legal standing.

Today, the bulk of concussion research is focused on two subjects: diagnostics, and long-term impact and recovery for athletes. The injury has risen to prominence amid a series of high-profile class action lawsuits initiated by the brain injury lawyers of former professional football and hockey players. Last year, a settlement that could be worth $1-billion was finalized between the National Football League and former players; a class-action lawsuit against the National Hockey League could be heard in court in 2017. Both cases hinge on expanding research linking frequent blows to the head with a variety of degenerative brain diseases.

Most concussion sufferers do not experience life-long brain issues, but the impacts on day-to-day life can still be substantial. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia and published in the Journal of Neurotrauma found that concussed individuals at times displayed the same ability to operate a motor vehicle as someone under the influence of alcohol.

“We have very fine-tuned recommendations for when a concussed individual is ready to return to sport and the classroom,” said study author Julianna Schmidt. “But we don’t even mention driving in our recommendations. And only 50 per cent of people intend to restrict their driving at any point following a concussion which means that by the time they are feeling better, they are almost certainly on the road.”

The study placed participants in a driving simulator within two days of a head injury, and compared their results with performance after an appropriate recovery time. Significantly, it found that driving performance was hindered even after some participants’ symptoms had dissipated.

“This is a pretty large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk, and this is at a time point when they are considered recovered,” Schmidt added.

The University of Georgia study places an important emphasis on the impact of concussions on average people, the type represented by local brain injury lawyers. Focusing concussion research on high-performing athletes does little to indicate the impact the injury may have on day-to-day life for the majority of the population.

If you have suffered a head injury and are experiencing prolonged negative side effects, contact the brain injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today. Our team has a wealth of experience helping injury victims access the compensation to which they may be entitled, in order to set them on a path towards a successful recovery.

How will legalized marijuana affect road safety?

Legalizing the sale and use of recreational marijuana was a central tenet of the platform that earned Canada’s Liberal Party a majority government in the last federal election. The policy has wide support among Canadians: according to a 2016 Nanos survey, around 43 per cent support the idea, and a further 26 per cent somewhat support it.

However, as the government prepares to table legislation, questions remain around the impact legalization could have on impaired driving rates. As car accident lawyers understand, driving under the influence of drugs produces similar results to drunk-driving, but presents unique challenges. In December, a federal task force said the government must take action to keep impaired drivers off the roads.

An important component of those efforts will be developing a reliable, breathalyzer-style test for marijuana. Today, officers who suspect a driver of being impaired can conduct standard roadside sobriety tests, and later call on a drug recognition expert with specialized training to confirm their suspicions. But from a car accident lawyers point of view, the lack of standardized testing tools produces legal grey areas.

“Drug-impaired driving is a problem, is a challenge, here in Canada today,” said Anne McLellan, the task force’s chair, told the CBC. “That is why the science is very quickly catching up. But are we there yet? No.”

RCMP, OPP, and other local law enforcement divisions are currently trialing roadside tests for marijuana in seven Canadian jurisdictions, and saliva tests have proven effective in Europe and Australia. Andy Murie, CEO of MADD Canada, believes drivers’ safety will depend on law enforcement deciding on and adopting a reliable tool to detect intoxication.

“If they don’t have the driving piece nailed down before you start retail sales of cannabis, you’re just going to kill a whole bunch more young people on the road,” he told the CBC.

This sentiment is also held by victims’ rights and road safety advocates, car accident lawyers, and law enforcement officials. Mario Harel, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, told the CBC that “there are still a lot of questions on how they are going to determine what impairment is for drivers.”

While legislation to legalize marijuana is expected this spring, the man leading the Liberal’s legalization efforts, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, is in no rush to push retail sales.

“We will take as much time as it takes to do it right,” Blair told the Financial Post. “I’m pretty reluctant to suggest a specific time frame, frankly, because I don’t know how long this will take in each of our 10 provinces and three territories.”

Determining how to recognize and measure marijuana impairment and enforce strict penalties for driving under the influence must be central to the Liberals’ policy-making goals. Indeed, crafting tough guidelines will be necessary to ensure Canada’s impaired driving rates continue to decline.

If you or a member of your family has been hurt in a car accident, whether caused by impaired driver or any other means, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

BC brain injury group publishes video game to boost awareness

BrainTrust Canada, a British Columbia-based non-profit organization working in the brain injury field, is launching an online video game aimed at improving youth awareness of brain injuries. The game was developed by CREW Marketing Partners and has three themes: skateboarding, hockey, and workplace safety.

Check out Global News’s short article about this innovative initiative:

A not-for-profit association is launching an online video game to increase awareness about brain injuries for youths.

The game is found online and has three themes: skateboarding, hockey and workplace safety.

CREW Marketing Partners (previously GOODSIR Creative) developed the game for BrainTrust Canada.

The game was tested with the help of youths at the Okanagan Mission Secondary Interact Club and the Boys and Girls Club.

The launch of the game is accompanied by a contest that runs from Feb. 27 to March 19 for young people between 11 and 18 years old and who live in the Okanagan region.

Kids who play the game can enter to win a Domino’s pizza party for their class and tickets to both Kelowna Rockets and Vernon Vipers games for next season.

“We aim to be inventive when it comes to youth and our prevention programs,” Magda Kapp, director of communications & Prevention Services for BrainTrust Canada said. “Our hope is that up to 80 per cent of youth in the Okanagan play the new game, learn something along the way and have the chance to win prizes! If we can prevent even one brain injury, it’ll be worth it, as the estimated cost for one serious brain injury over a lifetime is in excess of $4 million,” she added,“not to mention the immense personal costs of a life changed forever.”

The game can be played by going to www.protectyourhead.com

What are your options after a sports league injury?

Community sports leagues are a great way to stay fit and meet new people, both for kids and adults. Parents enlist their children in organized sports to teach them about teamwork, sportsmanship, and getting along with others, and adults often join after-work leagues as a means of including social activity in their busy work weeks. For all the benefits of participating in organized sports, however, there are risks involved; if you suffer a serious injury you should immediately contact an Oakville personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.

Injuries

The likelihood of you – or your kids – suffering a particular injury depends on the activity you’re participating in. Concussions, for example, are quite common among football and hockey players, to the point where both major professional leagues, the NFL and NHL, are facing class-action lawsuits from former players. Lawsuits related to these injuries are becoming more common among amateur athletes as well, and your Oakville personal injury lawyer will likely have a sophisticated understanding of their nuances.

Concussions are a form of brain injury, and are particularly damaging in young people. Last year, the Ontario legislature passed Rowan’s Law, a bill aimed at curbing the prevalence of concussions among young athletes. The law, named for Rowan Stringer, an Ottawa-area high school rugby player who died after sustaining multiple concussions in a short span, aims to improve awareness and understanding of the injury.

Other sports and activities, from basketball to swimming to kickball to skiing, each present their own unique injury risks, and organizers or these activities have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of participants.

Waivers

Community sports and recreational organizations generally require individuals to sign waivers as a pre-condition of participation. These contractual clauses are specifically designed to prevent participants from initiating legal action against the league. In addition to sports leagues, they can be found at water parks, rock-climbing gyms, bungee jumping sites, and any venues that host high-risk activities.

While these waivers likely succeed in discouraging injury victims from launching personal injury lawsuits, Ontario’s courts do not generally recognize and enforce these waivers in situations where activity organizers have not taken reasonable steps to protect participants.

Individuals assume a heightened risk of injury when they join sports leagues, and as such, Ontario’s courts do not mandate that either leagues or athletic facilities prevent all injuries. However, if an organization or facility neglects to take reasonable actions to prevent injury, they make themselves vulnerable to lawsuits.

As such, you may be entitled to compensation for you injuries regardless of whether you’ve signed a waiver. Talking to an Oakville personal injury lawyer can help you better understand your rights and most prudent steps forward.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury while participating in an organized sports league, contact Will Davidson LLP today. Injuries involving waivers are often complicated, and an Oakville personal injury lawyer can help advise you on your best actions to take.

Request a free consultation

COPYRIGHT 2019 © WILL DAVIDSON LLP