Liability waivers and the personal injury lawsuit

Liability waivers are often a point of dispute in legal circles. In some cases, businesses may use waivers to shield themselves from the consequences of neglecting their duty of care. For instance, this blog recently looked at Woodhouse v. Snow Valley Resorts, a personal injury lawsuit in which Elizabeth Woodhouse sought compensation for injuries sustained at the resort, despite having signed a waiver. Ontario Superior Court Justice J.R. McCarthy decided in the plaintiff’s favour, thus ensuring that injured individuals are able to pursue compensation against negligent suppliers.

Today, we’ll look at a similar case with a different result in British Columbia, where a personal injury lawsuit deriving from a mountain biking accident has been resolved in favour of the waiver issuer.

In 2009, Blake Jamieson was injured while attempting to jump down a rock face on Whistler Mountain Resort’s A-Line trail. His rear wheel clipped the edge of the rock, and Jamieson was propelled over the front of the handlebars. He landed on the trail below and was paralyzed from his waist down.

Jamieson’s personal injury lawsuit argued that Whistler Mountain Resort did not adequately warn him of the dangers of mountain biking when he signed a waiver for a season pass. In particular, he stated that he was unaware that he could suffer a spinal injury by falling over the front bars of his bike.

The resort responded that ‘Jamieson had worked as both a volunteer trail builder and patroller at the bike park for three seasons and had already completed two years training to be a medical doctor at UBC prior to the accident,’ reports the CBC. ‘The resort’s legal team produced accident reports signed by Jamieson showing he had provided first aid at six accidents in the park involving either head or spinal cord injuries.’

Jamieson stated that his time working at the park had in no way informed him of its potential dangers. The presiding judge, Madame Justice Neena Sharma, found his statement unreliable.

“I find any reasonable person who can read English, faced with the [waiver], would understand that the risks of using the park are very serious,” Sharma said in her decision. “In my view, the release is comprehensive, clear and blunt.”

Justice Sharma also pointed out that staff and signage around the park provided clear and consistent reminders of the dangers that riders faced.

Blake Jamieson’s lawyers have since stated that the use of legal waivers “removes the legal incentive [for companies] to protect their customers,” according to the CBC. This is a valid concern: individuals should not be stripped of their fundamental rights simply for signing a waiver. However, responsible organizations should be protected from undue legal action when they provide appropriate protection to their clients.

If you have suffered an injury after signing a legal waiver, you may still be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Contact the team at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you access compensation for your injuries.

Is improper car seat usage contributing to children’s car accident injuries?

There are few things more distressing for car accident lawyers than litigating injury claims involving children. Unfortunately, these cases are a reality of the job: according to Transport Canada, more than 2000 Canadian children between the ages of 1 and 4 are injured or killed in car crashes each year. Quebec’s auto insurance board, SAAQ, recently reported that car accident injuries to children had risen by 8 per cent between 2012 and 2016, even while injuries and fatalities fell across the general population. According to an SAAQ spokesperson, improperly used car seats may have played an important role in this trend.

With that in mind, the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP would like to offer an overview of proper car seat and booster seat use, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What type of car seat does my child need?

Your child’s age and size generally dictates which car seat is best suited for them. Infants should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one-year-old, and weigh at least 22 lbs. Even if your child is over one year of age, you should abide by the car seat’s instructions: if your child fits the seat’s recommended height and weight, keep them in it. There’s no need to rush to a front-facing seat.

At a certain point, however, your child will outgrow the rear-facing seat and will need something bigger. Children between 22 lbs. and 40 lbs. will generally be well-suited to a front facing seat. This stage usually lasts until the child is around four years old.

When your child gets too big for a front-facing car seat, it’s time to graduate to a booster seat, which they will occupy until they grow taller than 4’9”, or older than 9-years-old.

Proper rear- and front-facing car seat use

New car models must be equipped with a Universal Anchorage System (UAS), which facilitates the installation of both front and rear-facing car seats. Before you install your car seat, however, be sure to carefully read the manual and check that your child fits its specifications.

For rear-facing car seats, make sure the seat is positioned at a 45° angle. If the slope of your seat does not allow for this, you can use a firm towel roll or pool noodle to ensure the seat is positioned safely.

Front-facing car seats must be secured with a tether strap, which is attached at the top of the car seat. If your car doesn’t come equipped with tether anchors, consider asking your automotive dealer to install them.

Booster seats

Once your child has graduated to a booster seat, they will begin using your car’s installed seatbelt system. The seatbelt should fit your child like it does an adult: make sure the shoulder strap lays over the middle of your child’s collarbone rather than the neck, and that the lap belt lays over the hips, not the stomach.

Even with a properly installed car seat or booster seat, some automotive injuries are unavoidable. If you or your child has been injured in an accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how we can help.

 

Photo credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr

Avoid summer-ending injuries at the cottage this year

Cottage season is in full swing in Ontario, meaning that each weekend major cities empty and small towns in Muskoka, the Rideau Lakes, Kenora, and dozens of other regions swell with seasonal newcomers. Will Davidson LLP’s personal injury lawyers work out of offices in Midland, Orillia, and Huntsville to serve cottage country residents.

The cottage is a place of rest and relaxation for many big-city Ontarians, but it’s also a place where injuries can occur. In today’s blog, we’ll go over some guidelines to help you stay injury-free this summer.

It all starts on the road

As all personal injury lawyers know, the majority of personal injuries occur in car accidents, which is why your cottage safety guide begins on the road. On Friday afternoons in June, July and August, it isn’t uncommon to see traffic backed-up for kilometres on the routes out of Toronto. The combination of week-ending fatigue, steamy weather and frustrating road conditions can lead to reckless driving decisions. While driving up to the cottage this summer, do your best to avoid major arterial roads by taking alternative routes and leaving work early. Stay cool and collected on the trip, too – cutting a few minutes off your drive with dangerous maneuvers isn’t worth a serious injury.

On the water

If there’s a polar opposite to being stuck in traffic on the 401, it’s boating on one of Ontario’s hundreds of thousands of lakes. We discussed boat safety in detail at WillDavidson.ca and how personal injury lawyers can help boating accident victims recover last month, but it’s never a bad time to brush up on the basics.

First and foremost, never drink and boat: more than a hundred Canadians die in boating accidents each year, with alcohol playing a role in more than 40 per cent of those fatalities.

It’s also important to wear a life jacket: only about 13 per cent of individuals who die in boating accidents wear one.

Finally, always make sure to keep your boating licence updated and be aware of the condition of your craft. Check fuel lines and tanks before heading onto the water, and ensure that the boat is stocked with safety equipment.

Fire safety

Camp fires are the cherry-on-top of long summer days at the cottage, but they also carry certain inherent risks. Before you light your first campfire of the season, make sure you clear away low overhanging branches, which could cause serious damage if lit.

You should also ensure that your roof and eavestroughs are cleared of dry twigs and leaves, which are highly flammable. Most cottages are made of wood, and a stray ember from your campfire could spread quickly if it came to rest in a trough filled with dry debris.

Watch out for one another

Nothing ruins summertime like an injury. While you’re at the cottage this season, keep an eye on your friends and family to ensure that they’re behaving safely and avoiding unnecessary risks. And, if someone should suffer an injury, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how we can help.

 

Photo credit: Gary J. Wood/Flickr

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