Canadian air, rail accidents rose in 2017

 

Each year, thousands of Canadians are killed or seriously injured in motor vehicle accidents. A personal injury lawyer spends a significant portion of their time responding to inquiries from and providing legal representation to victims of motor vehicle accidents.

However, traffic accidents are by no means the only source of injury in Canada. Indeed, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB), the federal agency responsible for advancing transportation safety across Canada, recently reported that 2017 was an above average year of incidents involving commercial aircraft. Ninety-four incidents occurred, more than the five-year average of 79 and well above last year’s total of 63. Nine of those incidents involved passenger aircraft, including Canada’s first fatal accident since 2011. Individuals who have been injured in aircraft accidents can seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.

The Canadian Federal Pilots Association (CFPA) placed blame for the increase on cutbacks by the federal government, including less oversight and fewer in-person reviews by Transport Canada.

“They’re down to doing process inspections, which is sort of the third level of inspection that the department can do,” CFPA national chair Greg McConnell told the Canadian Press. “An analogy that I like to use is if you were going to buy a car, and you brought a mechanic with you, you would want the mechanic to check the whole car. You wouldn’t want the mechanic to just check the electrical system.”

The number of fatalities and serious injuries that occurred on Canadian railways also rose slightly last year. Between collisions at railway crossing and incidents involving trespassing, 72 people were killed and 44 seriously injured in 2017. Forty-five per cent of the deaths occurred in Ontario.

For comparison, 65 people were killed in 2016, 45 were killed in 2015, and 54 were killed in 2014. Serious injuries for those years ranged from 35 to 50.

This February, the TSB issues a call for governments and rail companies to improve safety at railway crossings following a report on the 2016 death of a disabled man in Moncton, New Brunswick. The man was struck and killed by a train after his wheelchair became stuck while he attempted to navigate a public railway crossing in the city’s downtown.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury as a result of a railway accident, a car accident, or an accident involving an aircraft, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer like those working at Will Davidson LLP. Our team can assess the validity of your case and offer advice on how to proceed with your claim.

Q&A: Will Davidson LLP’s Meghan Walker discuss nursing home abuse

 

The residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities are among Ontario’s most vulnerable residents, and as the province’s population ages, the size of this demographic is set to grow dramatically. Unfortunately, some residents of Ontario’s old-age homes are already subject to neglect and abuse. We spoke with Will Davidson LLP’s Meghan Walker to learn a little bit more about abuse in nursing homes and how a personal injury lawyer can help.

Question: What qualifies as nursing home neglect or abuse?

Meghan Walker: Nursing home abuse and neglect can take many forms. It can include physical violence, emotional abuse, medical neglect, social isolation, and failing to assist the resident with their basic needs.

Q: What are common signs of nursing home neglect or abuse?

MW: There are many different examples of these types of abuse and neglect.

For example, if a staff member within a nursing home intends to cause harm to the resident, it would certainly constitute abuse. Neglect of a resident can include failing to provide adequate safety measures or failing to properly care for their medical conditions, mobility issues, or cognitive issues. Failing to provide adequate food or water or failing to provide a clean and safe environment for the resident to live will also constitute neglect. Where a resident also does not have proper assistance with bathing and other types of hygiene care, the nursing home may be found liable for their neglect. A resident being ignored by staff members of the nursing home, or a resident who is left alone without access to socialization is a victim of social and emotional neglect.

Q: Are there signs of abuse that family and friends should look out for?

MW: It is important that friends and family members visit their loved ones to ensure they are being well cared for within the nursing home. Common signs of abuse and neglect that family should watch out for include:

  • Weight loss, which could possibly be the result of malnourishment, or illness
  • Bruises or other unexplained sores that could have resulted from falls or abuse
  • Withdrawn behaviour or a depressed mood
  • Changes in personal hygiene
  • Exhibiting pain behaviours when sitting or lying down, which may be the result of bed sores

When visiting a loved one, it is also important to look around the common areas of the nursing home. Do other residents seem happy and well cared for? Are there any trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall hazards around the nursing home?

While some family members are not able to visit their loves ones as much as they like, communication with the nursing home is vital. Ask for frequent updates from staff; if your calls or e-mails to staff at the nursing home go unanswered, it can be a red flag. It is also important that family members participate in care plan meetings to ensure all of the emotional and physical needs of their loved on are being addressed.

Q: When should my family contact a personal injury lawyer about nursing home abuse?

MW: Families should contact a lawyer if they have any concerns about the care their loved one is receiving as a resident in a nursing home, or if they have any questions about the rights their loved one has as a resident in a nursing home. Call or e-mail the lawyers Will Davidson LLP and we would be happy to give you a free consultation, either in person or over the phone.

Q: What should I take to my meeting with a personal injury lawyer?

MW: If you are interested in pursuing an action for abuse or neglect against a nursing home, it is helpful but not essential that you provide us with a copy of any records you have from the nursing home, including correspondence. Photographs of the alleged abuse or neglect are also helpful, but not essential.

 

If you believe that a family member has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with a personal injury lawyer like Meghan Walker. Our team can help you understand your options and guide you through the legal process.

 

Image credit: Ann/Flickr

Study reveals link between 4/20 and traffic deaths

 

For a car accident lawyer in Oakville, Toronto, or anywhere across Canada, the upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana is cause for concern.

This February, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) released an analysis of 25 years of data around fatal traffic accidents on April 20. The date, sometimes styled as 4/20, is an unofficial, self-proclaimed holiday for marijuana users, generally marked by peaceful gatherings in cities like Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, and Ottawa.

While 4/20 celebrations are generally quite benign, UBC’s analysis revealed a dangerous link to traffic deaths. According to the study, which compared data from April 20 with data from control days one week earlier or later, drivers were 12 per cent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident on 4/20.  Among drivers under the age of 21, the risk was 38 per cent higher. Overall, the study found that 142 additional deaths took place on April 20 between 1992 and 2016.

Similar spikes in drunk driving deaths have been reported on Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve, the CBC reported.

“Assuming fewer than 10 per cent of Americans drive while high on April 20, our results suggest that drug use at 4/20 celebrations more than doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said University of Toronto professor Dr. Donald Redelmeier in a UBC release.

Despite complications and controversies, recreational marijuana will almost certainly be legalized across Canada this summer, which makes the study’s timing particularly sensitive. Road safety advocates and law enforcement officials have consistently warned of the dangers of drug-impaired driving in the lead-up to legalization. If you’ve been injured in a crash involving drug impairment, contact a car accident lawyer today.

“One-fifth of Americans now live in states that have legalized recreational cannabis, and legalization is set to occur for all Canadians in July 2018,” said lead research Dr. John Staples of UBC’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences. “We hope that legalization doesn’t lead to more people driving while high.”

The federal government hopes the same thing, and has invested millions of dollars in public awareness campaigns targeted at young people and other vulnerable populations. However, dangerous misconceptions about marijuana and its effects on drivers persist in Canada, as we discussed in a blog post at WillDavidson.ca. To make matters worse, there is no foolproof roadside test for marijuana intoxication. In short, all levels of government have their work cut out for them prior to nationwide marijuana legalization.

“Driving is a potentially dangerous activity,” Staples said. “Improving road safety requires both policymakers and drivers to make smart decisions. If you’re going to get behind the wheel, buckle up, put the phone away, don’t speed, stay sober and don’t drive high.”

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact an Oakville car accident lawyer at Will Davidson LLP to learn how we can help.

 

Image credit: Ethan M. Long/Wikimedia Commons

Fatalities on Ontario’s Highways Continue to Rise

 

In 2016, 307 people were killed in car accidents on Ontario’s highways, including 61 in the province’s Eastern region. In 2017, 341 were killed – an eleven per cent increase – including 79 in the east. During the first 15 days of 2018, a further 26 people died on Ontario’s highways, seven more than last year, or a 271 per cent increase. The trend is clear: Ontario’s highways are becoming more dangerous, a fact that should worry all Ontarians, including personal injury lawyers.

Law enforcement and safety experts can’t fully explain the increase, though messy winter weather has likely contributed to this January’s fatality surge. Still, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt reminded the CBC last month that “poor road conditions and poor weather conditions don’t cause crashes … it’s poor driving that causes crashes.”

Ontario Provincial Police have called for drivers to slow down during bad weather and are continuing public awareness campaigns around distracted, impaired, and dangerous driving. Other stakeholders are calling for more substantial changes.

“I think that the fines should be more. I think that you should lose your licence. I think that we have to be starting to be held responsible for what’s going on,” Mayor Erika Demchuk of Gananoque told Global News.

The Town of Gananoque has asked the province to implement various safety improvements, including electronic speed limit signs that can be changed based on weather. However, changes like these happen slowly, as personal injury lawyers are well aware.

“Looking at it now means that maybe by 2025 or 2026, they’ll actually be able to start doing something about it,” Demchuk said.

In Northern Ontario, retired traffic inspector and current traffic safety consultant Mark Andrews also expressed frustration at the slow rate of change when he spoke with CBC Sudbury.

“I hear the same issues being raised again and again of the cause [of collisions] … and ideas being raised that were raised 10 years ago,” he said. “The roads haven’t been developed, the cars haven’t been developed and the users haven’t kept up with what we now have for a vehicle to drive in.”

Long-term safety solutions, Andrews said, will require significant cooperation between all levels of government, vehicle manufacturers, and business stakeholders like the trucking industry. In the meantime, he suggested that improved winter maintenance and small infrastructure upgrades could prevent some traffic fatalities.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident on Ontario’s highways, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to discuss how we can help.

 

Photo credit: Floydian/Wikimedia Commons

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