Avoid Injuries this Holiday Season


Even in the best of years, the holiday season is a stressful time. Between the kids being home from school, financial pressures piling up, and extended family pouring in from out of town, there’s not much time for relaxation. Now, imagine adding a serious injury to that mix; suddenly you’re in Clark-Griswold-from-ChristmasVacation territory. While it’s easy to laugh at Clark’s troubles on the big screen, holiday injuries are a reality that Ontario personal injury lawyers confront year after year.

Unsurprisingly, the most common accidents related to the holiday season are car crashes. The combination of worsening winter weather, more vehicles on the road, plenty of distractions, and alcohol-fueled holiday parties make December a dangerous month for driving. If you’re spending time on the road this holiday season, be especially cautious and avoid all alcohol, if possible.

Once you’ve navigated the treacherous holiday traffic, you’ll face more injury risks at home. According to Quartz, the United States’ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that roughly 1,700 Christmas-related injuries occurred between 2011 and 2015. In 2014, Metro News reported that 40 critical injuries and two deaths related to Christmas decorating had occurred over the previous ten years in Calgary alone.

The CPSC dataset included brief descriptions of the events causing the injuries, shedding light on the risks Christmas decorators face. For example: “33-year-old male standing on a stool hanging Christmas light when fell backwards striking head onto a TV stand,” or “44-year-old female was trying to throw out a Christmas tree, was unable to get the tree into the bin, [causing] her to fall.”

Ontario personal injury lawyers understand that serious injuries can result from these types of seemingly harmless scenarios. For example, Will Davidson LLP client Howard Milthrope suffered a serious head injury after tripping over a Christmas light cord.

“I went to see Howard to make sure they didn’t need anything, and Pat [Howard’s wife] and I started chatting and she told me about how the accident occurred,” said Will Davidson LLP Law Clerk Coleen Skynner. “I mentioned to her that [Will Davidson LLP Managing Partner Gary Will] might be able to help them in making sure that Howard had all the services that he needed once he was released from hospital.”

You can learn a little bit more about Pat and Howard’s case through their testimonial, available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgu3Xp0XC04.

Speaking to the National Post, University of Calgary surgery professor Dr. Chad Ball cautioned that certain demographics – “slightly older, Caucasian men” – are particularly susceptible to these types of injuries. The solution? Ask for help when decorating your home. Enlist someone to hold your ladder and check for broken ornaments. If you have a bad back or feel unsteady on your feet, swallow your pride and ask someone younger to do the work.

Slip and fall accidents are also quite common during the holidays, for many of the same reasons that car crashes increase: bad weather, alcohol, and the presence of people who are unaccustomed to navigating slippery sidewalks. If you’re expecting guests this holiday season, ensure your driveway and walkway is clear of snow and well-salted.

Finally, children often suffer injuries over the holiday, often due to lack of supervision. Christmas trees and Christmas ornaments can be dangerous to kids, as can wrapping paper and new toys. Keeping an eye on children who are intoxicated by time off school, sugary treats, and the promise of presents isn’t always easy, but it will keep them safe.

If you or a member of your family suffers an injury this holiday season, contact the experienced Ontario personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP. Our team can help you access compensation for you injuries and can guide you on your path to recovery.


Highway 400 crash prompts calls for safety


A multi-vehicle collision involving fully loaded tanker trucks on provincial Highway 400 has spawned calls from safety advocates and motor vehicle accident lawyers for improved road safety on Ontario’s highways. The 14-vehicle accident, which occurred north of Toronto on Halloween night, caused three fatalities and left a small patch of the highway engulfed in flames. One police officer described the scene as “Armageddon.”

The Ontario Safety League (OSL), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing preventable deaths and injuries on the province’s roads, is calling for a coroner’s inquest to determine how similar accidents can be avoided.

“All of the parties that are involved in road safety in this province want to see things get better,” OSL President and CEO Brain Patterson said to the CBC. “There is no finger pointing, there’s just an opportunity to bring good parties together and come up with best practices for this province.”

Police believe both distracted driving and impaired driving contributed to the carnage: a suspected impaired driver is thought to have caused the initial backup, and an oncoming tanker truck collided with the delayed vehicles, the CBC reports.

Distracted driving has been an area of acute concern for law enforcement officers, motor vehicle accident lawyers, and safety advocates over the past several years. Unfortunately, efforts to curb the behaviour have been largely unsuccessful. In 2016, distracted driving contributed to more road fatalities than drunk driving or speed-related accidents.

“The message has not hit home to everybody. There are still many individuals who think they can multitask,” said Elliott Silverstein, government relations manager for the Canadian Automobile Association. “Your hands need to be on the wheel, your eyes on the road and focused on that, not stopping to rubberneck and look at incidents on the road, but making sure you are keeping the right amount of distance, following the rules of the road.”

The Government of Ontario recently tabled legislation to harshen distracted driving penalties, and numerous road safety groups have initiated awareness and education campaigns.

Addressing the Highway 400 accident, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes warned against distracted driving while also urging truckers to exercise greater caution, particularly when carrying dangerous substances.

“These trucks are, in essence, missiles,” he said.

Though road fatalities have fallen in Ontario in recent years, from 517 in 2014 to 439 last year, trucks contribute to roughly 20 per cent of those deaths. Members of the trucking industry acknowledged they have room to improve.

“We are at a level of excellence with regards to mechanical fitness and driver behaviour,” said Ontario Trucking Association president Stephen Laskowski. “But we know we can do better and we know that through technology, enforcement and education we are going to get there.”

If you have suffered an injury in a traffic accident, contact the motor vehicle accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how our experienced and compassionate team can help.


Image credit: Sgt Kerry Schmidt (@OPP_HSD on Twitter)

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