May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Motorcycles are a fun and exciting way to experience Canada’s expansive countryside, but also an inherently dangerous one. These small, relatively light vehicles can move extremely quickly and lack the safety measures built in to cars and trucks. For this reason, motorcycle accident lawyers are often asked to represent severely injured clients who require significant compensation to assist their recovery.

In 2016, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to almost 750 motorcycle crashes, in which 31 motorcyclists died, the second most in the last six years. In response, groups like the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada (MCC) and the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC) are eagerly promoting May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

“At the MCC our long-term goal is to make Canada the safest place to ride a motorcycle,” said MCC Chair Dave Millier in a release. “We’re encouraging everyone to take the Motorcycle Safety Pledge because behind the helmet, motorcyclists are mothers, fathers, children, and friends.”

The Motorcycle Safety Pledge urges motorcyclists to ride sober and within the limits of their ability, to obey traffic laws, and to make arriving alive their top priority. Advocacy groups and motorcycle accident lawyers hope these and other measures can make 2017 a safer year for riders.

What can you do to stay safe?

Make and share your travel plans: Before heading out on a ride, make a detailed plan including your destination, your route, and when you expect to be home. Share this plan with family and friends, and keep a fully charged cellphone with you at all times.

Travel in a group: Riding solo along an empty highway may be a romantic image, but if you’re in a crash you’ll want to have a friend nearby. A riding companion can call for emergency help in case of an accident or perform basic first aid, if necessary.

Never drink and ride: This rule applies equally to motorcycling as it does to driving a car, a boat, or a bicycle. Impairment through alcohol or drugs affects your judgment and reaction time, and can lead to serious injury or death. And unlike other motorists who drink and drive, motorcyclists do not have the benefit of airbags, windshields, or a reinforced roof.

Watch your speed: Speed was a significant contributing factor in many of the 31 motorcycling deaths in Ontario last year. Motorcycles are built for speed, but that doesn’t mean post speed limits don’t apply to you. They are there for your safety.

Rules for motorists: Road users must work together to ensure each other’s safety. Drivers of larger vehicles must be acutely aware of motorcycles on the road, as they are sometimes difficult to see. If you’re driving a car or truck on the highway, make sure to regularly check your blind spots for motorcyclists before switching lanes.

Contact an injury lawyer: If you are involved in an accident, a team of motorcycle accident lawyers can help you on your road to recovery. An experienced injury lawyer can take care of your legal proceedings while you focus on getting better.

The motorcycle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP have years of experience helping injured Ontarians access compensation for their injuries. Our team has a reputation for compassionate, attentive service; contact us today to arrange a free consultation and learn about how we can help.

Top causes of car accidents in Ontario

Thousands of Canadians die each year in car accidents, and although the country possesses one of the world’s lower traffic fatality rates, law enforcement officers, road safety advocates and auto accident lawyers believe drivers’ safety can be much improved. The majority of car accidents are caused by some form of human error, meaning Canada’s transportation system could be made safer and more efficient if drivers chose to adhere to a series of simple safety measures.

Last summer on the WillDavidson.ca blog, we described some of the common causes of car accidents on Canadian roads. With warm weather approaching once again, it’s time for another look.

Distracted Driving

Between May 1 and May 7, 2017, York Regional Police charged almost 100 drivers with distracted driving. In April, a report presented to law enforcement in Hamilton, Ontario, showed that distracted driving contributed to almost half of fatal collisions in the area over five years.

Though cellphone use is the primary contributor to distracted driving, distraction can occur in a variety of ways, including by interacting with passengers in the car, eating while driving, or applying makeup. Regardless of cause, distracted driving is now the leading contributing factor to fatal car accidents and car accidents in general in Ontario.

Impaired Driving

Rates of impaired driving have fallen steadily over the past decades, thanks in large part to aggressive public awareness campaigns from activist groups, auto accident lawyers, and law enforcement officials. Public knowledge hasn’t eliminated the problem, however, and Canada’s drunk-driving death rate remains unusually high for wealthy countries.

As Ottawa prepares to legalize recreational marijuana, new concerns over impaired driving have emerged. Roadside tests for marijuana intoxication are inconsistent, and impairment varies greatly from person to person. How will police enforce drug-impaired driving laws when marijuana is the suspected intoxicant? Will impaired driving rates increase with legalization?

Speeding

Speeding has been a safety issue for as long as cars have been on the roads. Nearly everyone who drives exceeds the speed limit from time to time, often by mistake and sometimes because they’re in a rush.

Limits are posted for a reason, and even a modest speed increase will raise your chance of suffering a serious injury: individuals involved in collisions at 80 km/h have twice the risk of dying as those involved in 64 km/h collisions.

Weather

According to Allstate Canada’s Safe Driving Study, most Canadian car accidents occur in December, January and February, while the fewest occur in April, May and June. As auto accident lawyers know, bad-weather driving is an unfortunate reality of life in Canada.

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of injury, however. Always check weather reports before you leave your house; make sure to equip your car with seasonal tires and emergency equipment; ensure your windshield wipers are functioning properly; and always drive according to the weather, not the speed limit.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident, contact the auto accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our experienced team can help you advance a personal injury claim.

 

Photo credit: W. Robert Howell/Wikimedia Commons

Are liability waivers a thing of the past?

For active Ontarians, liability waivers are a fact of life. If you’re a member of a fitness centre or recreational sports leagues, or enjoy participating in outdoor activities or visiting amusement parks, you’ve probably filled out a large number of waivers that aim to reduce companies’ risk of being held liable for your injuries.

But how much power do liability waivers really hold? Do they fully exempt businesses from liability? Can a personal injury lawyer help you, even if you’ve signed one?

In early 2017, Justice J.R. McCarthy of the Ontario Superior Court came to a decision that could change the way waivers are treated in the province.

Woodhouse v. Snow Valley Resorts

Elizabeth Woodhouse visited a ski facility run by Snow Valley Resorts in December 2008. She bought a beginner ski package, which included a lift ticket, rental equipment, and a lesson. The lift ticket included a liability release, and she also signed a “Rental Agreement & Release of Liability” containing a section titled “Waiver of Claims.”

Woodhouse was injured during her stay, hired a personal injury lawyer, and sued Snow Valley for injuries and loses.

During the trial Snow Valley Resorts acknowledged that it did not fully explained the waiver to Ms. Woodhouse, who in turn admitted that she reviewed its wording on the company’s website prior to her trip.

Because Woodhouse had signed both the lift ticket release and the Rental Agreement & Release of Liability, Snow Valley Resorts asked Justice McCarthy to dismiss the case. McCarthy disagreed, and ordered that the case proceed to trial. The Justice argued in his decision that Ms. Woodhouse was a consumer entitled to protection under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

Section 9(1) of the CPA dictates that “a supplier of services is deemed to warrant that the services supplied under a consumer agreement are of a reasonably acceptable quality,” and section 9(3) states that parts of consumer agreements that attempt to negate this implied warranty are void.

In other words, “a supplier of services cannot contract out its duty to provide services of a reasonably acceptable quality,” explained Kris Bonn in an excellent blog post for the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association. “That is, those parts of a waiver that limit or negate a supplier’s duty to provide safe service – which would be included in the terms “of reasonably acceptable quality” – will have no force or effect.”

The ruling is good news for injury victims and their personal injury lawyer. Does the fact that Justice McCarthy sent the case to trial mean liability waivers cannot be enforced in Ontario? Not quite. But it does guarantee that individuals who suffer an injury as a result of a supplier’s negligence will be able to pursue compensation for their injuries, regardless of having signed a waiver.

If you or a member of your family has been injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how we can help.

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