Aviva Canada report highlights ongoing distracted driving issues

 

Distracted driving remains a serious problem in Canada despite increased penalties and aggressive public messaging from law enforcement, safety advocates, government agencies, and personal injury lawyers. The growing scope of the issue was recently highlighted by statistics released by Aviva Canada, a national insurance company.

According to an Aviva release, the company has seen a “trend of increased claims linked to distracted driving” since 2016. Twenty-three per cent more distracted driving claims were received in 2018 than in 2016 nationwide, driven by a 58 per cent increase in Alberta and 34 per cent increase in Québec.

In Ontario, claims increased by 12 per cent. Local personal injury lawyers will be disappointed to learn that claims jumped 18 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

“Despite increased penalties and awareness on this issue, too many Canadians are still driving distracted behind the wheel,” said Aviva Canada’s Chief Underwriting Officer, Phil Gibson, in the release. “The majority of these accidents are preventable – such as hitting stationary objects, rear ending other vehicles and inattentive lane changes.”

If an accompanying public opinion poll issued by Aviva is any indication, Canadians are profoundly aware of the dangers of distracted driving: 95 per cent of respondents confirmed that motorists who text and drive make them feel unsafe, and 78 per cent said they would support a technological solution to the issue, such as phones being automatically disabled while behind the wheel.

To date, all efforts to curtail distracted driving in Canada have been ineffective. Despite awareness of the risks and aggressive policing, drivers don’t seem able to put away their phones while on the road. It may be that only time can change this dangerous behaviour.

“People need to come to the realization that distracted driving causes all the damage, all the lives lost and all the hurt in society that impaired driving causes,” Calgary Police Service Sgt. Dale Seddon told CTV News Calgary following the Aviva release. “The two equate to each other just like that and even though distracted driving is newer, if you will, than impaired driving it causes all the catastrophe that impaired driving does.”

If you have been injured in a car accident involving distracted driving or any other form of negligence, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville office to learn how we can help. Our experienced, understanding team can assess the validity of your personal injury claim and suggest appropriate next steps. Call us today at 1 (866) 503 8757 to arrange a free legal consultation.

 

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Study establishes link between brain injuries and dementia

 

Every brain injury lawyer is aware of the diverse and long-lasting affects of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), but a study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry this April has revealed a stronger-than-ever link between TBIs and dementia. The findings could affect the amount of compensation available in future brain injury cases.

The exhaustive study examined nearly three million people in Denmark over a 36-year period. It found that individuals who suffered traumatic brain injuries had a 24 per cent higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia than individuals who had never suffered such an injury.

The correlation was particularly strong among people who suffered TBIs in their 20s. These individuals were 63 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with dementia by their 50s than individuals who did not suffer a TBI in their 20s.

The study also showed that a greater number of brain injuries means a greater risk of dementia.

“There was a clear pattern between the number of brain injuries a person has and their risk of dementia as well as the severity of the brain injury and their subsequent risk of dementia,” said study co-author Jesse Fann, according to Global News. Fann is a professor in the University of Washington School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry and behavioural sciences.

While the study’s findings are grim from the perspective of a brain injury lawyer or victim, experts on the subject believe it could inspire positive change in society. The clear link between brain injury and dementia may prompt governments to establish helmet and road safety laws and increase awareness of compounding risk factors like alcoholism, tobacco use, and obesity. It may also pave the way for more research.

“This is a solid research study with an impressively large cohort,” Dr. Tom Schweizr, director of St. Michael’s Hospital’s Neuroscience Research Program told Global News in an email. “This study provides compelling evidence of a link between TBI and dementia, that goes beyond typical studies focusing on professional athletes on contact sports (e.g., football), to include a broader representation of the general public.”

Individuals who have suffered a serious head injury should contact a brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. The personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP can explain your legal options and help you access compensation to finance your recovery. Contact Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville offices today at 1-866-503-8757 to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

 

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Can cities do more to protect vulnerable road users?

 

A healthy, efficient, and safe transportation network is critical to every city’s economy. Yet, as personal injury lawyers in Toronto and the GTA know, pedestrians and cyclists are perhaps more at risk in 2018 than they have ever been.

Road safety experts believe that there are several keys to protecting vulnerable road users, including improved road design, infrastructure upgrades, and traffic law changes. Below, we’ll look at how each of these could help improve road safety in your community.

Road Design

Perhaps the most effective way to protect vulnerable road users is to design roads that take them into consideration from inception. This March, Reuters reported that Florida’s Complete Streets policy, a 1984 law mandating that road design accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, has led to a significant reduction in pedestrian deaths compared to other American states. Fatalities dropped about a half percent more per quarter than in the rest of the nation, resulting in an estimated 3,500 and 3,900 saved lives between 1984 and 2013.

“While our conversations often focus on the problem, far more infrequent are discussions that focus on solutions and ways to prevent these deaths,” University of Georgia researcher Jamila Porter told Reuters in an email. “Complete Streets policies are one such solution.”

Infrastructure Improvements

Designing roads from scratch isn’t an option in most major cities, which means steady infrastructure upgrades are necessary to improve safety. In Toronto, the city has widened sidewalks, implemented bike lanes, installed speed bumps, and added crosswalks, all for the purpose of making streets as useful and accessible for pedestrians and cyclists as they are for motor vehicles.

However, many stakeholders say the city’s process to implement traffic-calming measures is unnecessarily slow and complex, the Toronto Star reports.

Rule Changes

Safety advocates, including personal injury lawyers, believe that reduced speed limits could have a significant impact on road safety in the City of Toronto. In theory, lowering a speed limit in an area where motor vehicle collisions are common shouldn’t require years of planning or significant investment. But, as Walk Toronto’s Dylan Reid told the Star, the city’s process makes minor changes incredibly challenging to institute.

“It’s definitely conceived at the moment as a way of discouraging measures unless they’re so obviously required that (city officials) can’t say ‘no,’” he said. “As opposed to taking an approach that says, ‘we’re trying to make the city safer in every possible way.”

Canadian cities are slowly implementing strategies to improve road safety and reduce serious injuries among vulnerable road users. If you or a member of your family has been injured, contact Will Davidson LLP’s team of talented personal injury lawyers today to learn how we can help.

 

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Medical regulatory body comes under fire for delayed, lenient punishments

 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is the regulatory body that oversees and disciplines doctors, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare professionals in the province. Its stated goal, according to its website, is to “regulate the practice of medicine to protect and serve the public interest.” Unfortunately, the CPSO’s long history of leniency toward its members has prompted critics, including some medical malpractice lawyers, to question whether the body is fulfilling its obligation to patients.

Two recent cases exemplify the issue. The first involves Toronto doctor Javad Peirovy, who the CPSO found guilty three years ago of sexually abusing four female patients, according to the Toronto Star.

While the CPSO’s prosecutor argued that Peirovy should lose his license, the body’s disciplinary panel decided on a much lighter sentence that included a six-month suspension. The prosecutor appealed the decision to the Ontario Divisional Court, where it was overturned.

“[The punishment] was inadequate to protect the public and vindicate the integrity of the profession,” the Divisional Court’s decision reads. “The public’s confidence in the medical profession demands more from the disciplinary process than recent sexual abuse discipline cases suggest.”

However, because no final decision has been made on Peirovy’s punishment, he is still actively practicing, with some restrictions.

The second case involves St. Thomas, Ontario, obstetrician-gynecologist Cathy Frank who, the Star reports, has been implicated in more than 60 lawsuits dating to 2003. In February, the CPSO suspended her for two years. Its decision cited numerous medical errors, including failure to determine the causes of patients’ symptoms before performing surgery; failure to establish consent before performing procedures; and failure to adequately monitor and assess post-operative patients.

Critics, including medical malpractice lawyers, have questioned whether Frank’s punishment matches the severity of her mistakes and whether injuries would have been avoided if the CPSO had acted faster.

“While there is that amount of relief, there is anger,” Lorraine Kinninmont, a former patient of Frank’s, told the Star. “Why did the (college) take so long and how can they be held accountable? How can they change their processes to avoid this in the future? This goes back to 2003. I look back and it makes me angry because maybe had the (college) acted properly the first time, I wouldn’t have been injured … My goal has always been to stop other women being hurt.”

When a doctor or other healthcare professional has a history of committing harmful errors, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario must act to protect the public. Unnecessary delays and lenient punishments put patients at risk of further injuries.

If you or a member of your family has been injured because of the error or omission of a healthcare professional, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a consultation. Our experienced team can help you understand your legal position and guide you on your best path to recovery.

 

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Would a national pain strategy improve life for chronic pain patients?

 

Chronic pain is among the most complex and misunderstood disabilities in our society today. Because its effects are often outwardly invisible, those suffering from chronic pain have difficulty accessing the treatment or, when the condition is caused by an accident, the compensation they need. Many personal injury lawyers consider cases involving chronic pain among the most challenging they will take on.

Millions of Canadians suffer from chronic pain, and most are treated with a cocktail of medications which often includes dangerous opioid painkillers. Alternative forms of treatment, such physiotherapy, psychiatry and support groups, and medical marijuana, are available, but most are expensive and difficult for chronic pain patients to access.

As the opioid crisis in North America has worsened, patient advocacy groups like PainBC and the Canadian Pain Society have pushed for a national pain strategy to boost awareness of chronic pain, provide education for health professionals, and fund research. Personal injury lawyers believe that a greater public understanding of chronic pain could facilitate access to compensation and help patients get the treatment they need.

“We’re now at what one might call a tipping point, where the ducks are aligning,” Dr. Fiona Campbell, president-elect of the Canadian Pain Society, told the Toronto Star in March. “There’s more of an appetite and awareness about pain, which has probably arisen related to the opioid crisis, which is not the same as saying all people with chronic pain are taking opioids or affected by the opioid crisis. It just means it’s become more sentient in the public mind.”

The impacts of a serious brain or spinal injury on a person’s life are evident, and the people who suffer these injuries deserve sufficient compensation to fund their recovery. Individuals suffering from chronic pain also deserve access to treatment, but because their injuries are invisible they often face significant barriers to compensation. A better understanding of what chronic pain is and how it affects the lives of those who suffer from it could significantly improve this situation.

If you or a member of your family have been injured in an accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our talented and experienced team can help. Whether you have suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury or are suffering under the burden of chronic pain, our team can assess the validity of your personal injury claim and advise you of your next steps. Start your road to recovery today by calling Will Davidson LLP.

 

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