Toronto considers allowing motorcycle lane filtering – is the practice safe?

The City of Toronto is considering a proposal to allow motorcyclists to move between lanes of traffic while stopped at red lights, a practice known as “lane filtering.” Advocates of the proposal believe it will reduce congestion and improve safety among motorcyclists; however, from a motorcycle accident lawyer’s point of view, it has the potential to complicate already dangerous riding conditions.

Michel Mersereau, a senior instructor for The Rider Training Institute who helped draft the proposal, described the project as such, according to Global News:

“Lane filtering, basically what we are looking at is a pilot project around Richmond and Adelaide streets which represents the highest motorcycle collision zone in the city and this would allow motorcyclists at a red light to filter up between a row of stopped cars to the stop line and proceed through the intersection once the light turns green.”

Lane filtering should not be confused with “lane splitting,” wherein motorcyclists navigate between moving vehicles.

Proponents say that lane filtering protects motorcyclists from a major safety concern: being rear-ended by drivers in intersections. Toronto Councilor Anthony Perruzza, who brought forward the motion and is a motorcyclist himself, said lane filtering puts riders “in a much safer place because they’re ahead of the cars and they’re not just sitting in a lane looking behind them to see someone in a vehicle looking at their phone or being distracted.”

Lane filtering is legal and popular in cities around the world, including in California where it helps address significant congestion concerns. However, the practice has a long history in these jurisdictions, meaning drivers are used to keeping an eye open for lane filtering motorcyclists. In Toronto, a widespread awareness campaign would be necessary to reduce injuries.

“All of a sudden this motorcyclist appears next to you and the car beside you, so it’s not something you can just implement overnight,” a spokeswoman for the Canadian Motorcycle Association told Global.

As any motorcycle accident lawyer in Ontario can attest, motorcyclists are already more susceptible to serious traffic injuries than most drivers on the road. Lane filtering might have benefits, but it shouldn’t be implemented until the risks are identified and soberly considered.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer today. Our team can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance on your road to recovery.

 

Image credit: Roland Dobbins/Wikimedia Commons

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.

Wicked Winter Ahead: Safety Tips for Preventing Car Accidents

Winter is coming and with it, an increased risk of car accidents

Holiday season is fast approaching, and with it, winter weather and more car accidents.

Car accidents are common sights on our roadways during the winter. In an effort to reduce car accidents, we’ve put together this list of tips to keep you safe this winter.

 
tire on the snow

 

1. Check coolant levels: Coolant is responsible for making sure the engine warms up properly. Many people are unaware that coolant should be changed every two years. Reduce your risk of getting into car accidents by keeping proper levels of coolant in your vehicle.

2. Warm-up your car: Letting your car idle for a minute after starting allows fluids to move throughout the engine, ensuring that it is protected. This too can prevent car accidents.

 3. Check and change your tires: Winter snow tires should be placed on cars when the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius. Winter snow tires are important for preventing slippage on ice and snow, a major cause of winter car accidents. Check your tires for wear, as worn down treads increase the risk of car accidents.

4. Keep your speed down: While it’s always important to drive cautiously to prevent car accidents, in the winter it’s important to drive at an appropriate speed given the weather conditions. Speed is a leading cause of car accidents. Never use cruise control and accelerate with caution.

5. Keep ice off: Keep a window scraper and brush in your car to keep your windows clear of ice and snow. You may also want to consider keeping a small shovel in your trunk in the case your car becomes stuck in a snow bank. Snow and ice on the windshield, mirrors and windows can cause car accidents.

6. Keep your fuel tank full: In the unfortunate case you end up getting into one of the many car accidents that will happen this winter or other situation where you are stranded, having extra fuel in the tank can keep you idling and warm for hours.

7. Don’t be distracted: Texting and driving is a leading cause of car accidents anytime of the year, so put down the phone to lower your risk of car accidents. Nothing is as important as the safety of you and your passengers.

Claims for Car Accidents

Every driver in Ontario is required by law to have an automobile insurance policy in the case that they are involved in car accidents . If you have been injured in a car accident or multiple car accidents, you have legal rights to sue the at-fault driver. Contact our Oakville personal injury and car accidents law firm for more information and a free consultation about your claim. The statute of limitations to start a law suit, including car accidents lawsuits, is two years from the date of the car accident. If you miss this limitation period, you will not be able to bring a claim for injuries sustained in the car accident or car accidents. Our Contact our Oakville law firm respecting car accidents.
 

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Ins-and-outs of e-bikes

The Regulation of E-bikes in Ontario

E-bikes (electric bicycles) are an increasingly common sight on Ontario roads and sidewalks. They can be the cause of significant personal injury.

Many people wonder – are e-bikes regulated the same as motor vehicles?

e-bike
An E-bike

For all regulatory purposes, e-bikes are treated the same as non-motorized bicycles. Riders must be 16 years of age or older, wear an approved bicycle or motorcycle helmet and follow the rules of the road applicable to cyclists. Fines for riding an e-bike without an approved helmet range from $60 to $500. E-bike riders are subject to the same laws and penalties under the Highway Traffic Act and other legislation applicable to cyclists.

E-bikes are required to have pedals are not permitted to travel faster than 32 kilometres per hour. It is also an offence to modify an e-bike to operate at speeds faster than 32 kilometres per hour. It is up to each individual city or town to decide where e-bikes can be operated – whether it is on municipal streets, bicycle lanes or walking trails. In Toronto, e-bikes are not permitted to ride on bicycle paths or in bicycle lanes if they are making use of the motorized. E-bikes with over 24 inch wheels are not permitted to ride on Toronto sidewalks. E-bikes are not permitted on any 400-series highways or expressways anywhere in Ontario.

What is concerning about e-bikes is the fact that e-bike owners and operators do not need to hold a valid drivers license or insurance. E-bikes are frequently seen weaving in and out of vehicular traffic on busy city streets. Many owners remove the pedals from their e-bikes. However, removing the pedals will classify the e-bike as a motor vehicle, and riders of such modified e-bikes will then run the risk of being convicted under the Highway Traffic Act for driving without a license or driving without insurance.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury due to an accident with an e-bike, please contact our Oakville personal injury law firm for more information about personal injury sustained due to e-bikes.

 

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The Dreaded Pothole Situation

Car Accidents and Potholes

They seem to be everywhere. They cause bumps, delays and even car accidents. What are they? They are the dreaded potholes.

After the winter we have just had, it seems that the pothole situation is at an all-time high. They are causing damage to vehicles and causing car accidents if someone loses control when hitting a pothole.

If your car has been damaged in an accident caused by a pothole, or simply by the pothole itself, what are your avenues to seek compensation for such damage from the accident? Can you hold the municipality responsible for any damage that was caused to your vehicle due to a pothole? It is important to understand the standard of care for a municipality as it relates to potholes and any damage to vehicles or accidents potholes may cause.

Justice Leach of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice spoke to this issue in the recent decision of McLeod v. General Motors of Canada Limited et al., 2014 ONSC 134. This case was about a young woman who was driving her vehicle on a country gravel road when she lost control of her vehicle and had a car accident due to potholes on the road. She sustained serious and life-threatening injuries as a result of the car accident. The young woman began an action against the rural municipality.

Justice Leach determined that the action should be dismissed. This means that the municipality would not be held responsible for the accident caused by the potholes. For the municipality to be responsible, certain things must transpire. They are the following:

Potholes

  1. Official Complaints to the Municipality should be made.

This does not mean complaining around your city or town, but actually submitting formal complaints to the municipality about the potholes.

  1. The condition of the road must be in a state of disrepair.

A road that is in a reasonable condition, does not count! For instance, a gravel road is expected to have bumps and holes and thus it is not in a state of disrepair.

Additionally, these two points have to coincide. What this means is, even if the road is in disrepair, the municipality can rely on the defence that it had no knowledge of the defect and thus it is not held responsible for any accident.  The municipality has the responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent the defect from arising by having regular systems of grading and it must meet the minimum standards of inspection and pothole repair. If it does these things, it may not be held responsible for any accident and/or damage that may occur as a result of potholes.

Potholes are going to continue to be the bane of many peoples’ existence. They are something that we all have to live with, however they should be fixed as soon as reasonably possible by the municipality. You have the responsibility to avoid dangerous accident-causing situations, if possible and you must make formal and detailed complaints about potholes, so that if any damage occurs because that pothole has not been reasonably fixed, you will have avenues of recourse!

If you have sustained personal injury from an accident or car accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.

 

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Beware: Social Media and the Courtroom

Social Media can be a Plaintiff’s Enemy

Facebook has taken over the globe in unimaginable proportions. Many people use Facebook daily, especially for posting photographs of fun nights out with friends and family vacations. Privacy settings can be set quite high; however it is important to know there might always be a way around privacy settings. As an injured party, Facebook and other social media websites may become your enemy.

When you are involved in an accident, personal injury has been sustained, and a law suit has commenced, it is important to take into consideration that surveillance may be placed upon you. Another consideration to be made is that, after an accident, the opposing side may very well do investigating by way of social media sites too. When you have suffered personal injury from an accident, be sure to take extra precaution of what you are posting on these websites, because any inconsistencies between what you are saying and what is being shown, may be brought to light, despite those photographs not actually depicting the true extent of your pain from your accident injury that you may have most of the time.

Counsel has not been afraid to use Facebook and other social media cases for credibility issues during questioning and in Court for people who are claiming pain and suffering from injuries sustained in an accident.  In the Ontario Superior Court of Justice case, Kourtesis v. Joris, a young woman’s photograph postings led to her claim for damages for pain and suffering to be dismissed. The young woman claimed her social life had been ruined by the accident and subsequent injuries; however Facebook photographs depicted her out partying with friends. This led to the demise of her “ruined social life” claim and in the end, undermined her claim to have suffered other problems from the accident.

Despite irrelevant searches being looked down upon, Courts have tended to find that photographs relevant to accident injury claims on social media sites should be disclosed. For instance, if you manage to climb the tallest mountain, this should be made known. Lying and hiding those facts, even if you do have legitimate injuries, could lead to your case failing in every way. If you are on social media websites, be careful as to what you post, even if you are not part of a law suit. You never know how people may gain access to your profiles and nothing is off limits if it is relevant to your case. Always tell the truth and admit, for example, if your injuries from an accident do not cause you constant limitations and pain.

If you have sustained personal injury from an accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.

 

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Watch out for that Tree: Personal Injury and Property Damage

Falling trees causing personal injury and property damage

Fallen Tree on roadIt has been an icy winter to say the least. Personal injury and property damage have been sustained due to icy trees falling on cars, houses and people. However, trees do not only fall in the winter and falling trees can cause personal injury and property damage at any point during the year. What responsibility do you, as a property owner, have if a tree has fallen onto a neighbor or a neighbor’s property causing personal or property damage? On the other hand, what avenues of recourse do you have as a personally injured person or a person who has sustained property damage, against your neighbor?

If your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, or your car, the following should be taken into account: Many times, a tree falling on your property will be covered by insurance. There are times, when this is not the case and therefore neighbors begin law suits for personal injury and property damage against other neighbors. A 1996 Ontario Superior Court Decision, ruled that a neighbor, whose tree fell onto Mr. and Mrs. Parent’s property causing damage to their home and snowmobile, was not responsible for the damage. The judge reasoned that growing a tree is a natural use of the land and the owner of that land is under no obligation to his or her neighbor with respect to what is growing on his or her land. The neighbor has a responsibility to protect him or herself from personal injury or property damage. However, if an owner knows of, or can plainly see, warning signs that the tree is, for instance, decaying, they must take steps to ensure the tree is not hazardous to others.

There is also a British Columbia Court of Appeal case that involves a tree falling onto a woman’s property after a wind storm. The owners of the tree were found responsible for the damage, because the neighbor had warned them about the condition of the tree, and despite that, they did nothing to avoid the hazard. Therefore, to avoid property damage, and at times personal injury, it is important for everyone involved to be responsible property owners.

If you sustain personal injury due to a tree falling on you and it is a fluke accident, do you have any means of compensation? In some cases, personal injury from a tree falling can even result in death, which was the case of a Port Colborne woman. She was driving by in her car this winter when a tree, due to natural phenomenon, fell upon her car, crushing it and causing her fatal injuries. Again, insurance routes are available to most. As well, if the tree was not owned by a civilian, the City (or Town) has responsibility to ensure the safety of their property-this is true of trees, and even pot holes. If these avenues are unable to be used, or if they have been exhausted, legal action may need to be pursued.

Know your legal options and if you have experienced personal injury, do no hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out about your legal rights.

 

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Are you a Victim of a Hit and Run Accident?

Victim of a Hit and Run Accident? You Have Legal Options!

Picture this: You are driving your bicycle along the street carefully and prudently. You are using your hand signals and watching your surroundings. Despite this, a car comes behind you and strikes your bike causing you to have an accident. Even if the car only clips you, your balance is thrown off and you fall from your bicycle. An accident has happened.  Now picture another scenario: You are driving your car down the street carefully and prudently. You are using proper signals and watching your surroundings. Despite this, another vehicle strikes your car causing you to spin out of control and have an accident. These two accident scenarios I am putting forth have something in common: The vehicle that struck the cyclist and other motorist causing an accident, has fled the scene. Not only has the vehicle fled the scene, but the driver is never heard from again. This is not an uncommon situation, especially in busy cities such as Toronto.

As the victim in situations such as these, what are you to do? How are you expected to get compensation for any injuries that were sustained due to the hit and run accident?

When the other vehicle sticks around, usually it would be the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident that would be brought to court. However, if it is impossible for this to occur, the victim of the accident is forced to bring a claim forward against their own insurance company. The problem is, just because they are your own insurance company, it does not mean that they will easily compensate you for your injuries that you sustained in the accident. They become the Defendant in the case and you are the Plaintiff, thus you are put into an adversarial relationship with one another.

One of the major issues in cases such as these comes when there is a question of liability. Liability concentrates on who was at fault for the accident and how did it occur. A real situation occurred when a woman was driving her bicycle in Toronto and was struck by a car before it fled the scene, a witness also saw this accident happen. Despite the eye-witness, it would maybe be difficult to prove that she was indeed struck by a car causing the accident or if her wheels got caught in the streetcar tracks causing the accident. This issue with liability, does not necessarily mean you will not be compensated for your injuries, and you certainly always have the right to proceed to trial, but it may impact how much you’re awarded. It brings a risk factor, that would not necessarily be there if the unknown vehicle driver stayed at the scene and admitted to striking the cyclist.

It is for these reasons, that is important to have your lawyer bring forth all of the evidence, including your expertise as a cyclist and the eye-witness report, forward so that a settlement can be made in your favor or a judge or  jury will understand what really happened and you can be compensated for your injuries and other damages caused as a result  of the accident. When  hit and run occurs, cases can become difficult. However, do not think that just because there is no individual that you can bring a claim against, that you have no legal options to pursue…You do.

hit and run accidentIf you or a loved one has sustained personal injury from a hit and run accident, or other type of accident, not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm about your legal rights.

 

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What is this “threshold” that lawyers keep talking about???

Oakville Lawyers Car Accidents and the “Threshold”

We often make case comments about the Bill 198 threshold.   Based on this our clients have asked us for a better definition of the threshold.

The threshold applies if you were involved in a collision involving the use or operation of a motor vehicle as defined by the Insurance Act.  We may or may not have discussed this with you, but victims that are injured as a result of the carelessness or negligence of someone operating a motor vehicle are technically not allowed to claim compensation for pain and suffering unless he or she has met a certain “threshold”.

If you have been in a car accident, motorcycle accident or any other type of motor vehicle accident it is important to get the right advice. Contact us to learn your rights.

In other words you cannot sue anyone that has caused you injury in Ontario unless your injuries fall within a certain “classification”.  The “classification” or threshold is defined as:

“did the plaintiff (you) sustain a permanent and serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function as a result of a motor vehicle accident in which he or she (you) was involved in”. 

You may initially think that yes, I have absolutely sustained a permanent and serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function, but the reality is that these words are complexly defined within the context of personal injury law.

threshold poster

How does this affect you? 

The rule states that an injured victim in a motor vehicle accident is barred from suing an at-fault operator of a motor vehicle unless they in fact fall within certain exceptions.  You have the burden of establishing that you fall within all of these exceptions.

How do I do this?

A plaintiff (you) must lead evidence from physicians and health advisors to explain the nature of your impairment, its permanence and the specific functions that are impaired and the importance of the functions to you. If your case ends up going to Court, evidence will be asked of your doctors, health practitioners, rehabilitation people, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, specialists in the medical field.  Opinion evidence will be asked of experts that you have seen or will see as set up by your lawyer and the opposing lawyer.

At the end of your case a jury will retire to determine how much compensation it will pay you.  When the jury retires the lawyer that represents the insurance company will then have the right, under the Insurance Act, to ask the judge whether or not he or she believes by the evidence you produced that you suffered a permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function within the meaning of the Insurance Act.  The jury will not hear this question.

At that time the Judge will dissect the words permanent, serious, impairment and important function.  These words will be defined in detail by the Judge that hears your case.  The Judge will then come to an answer as to whether or not yes or no he or she believes that you sustained a permanent and serious impairment on an important physical, mental or psychological function within the meaning of the Insurance Act.

What does serious mean?

Serious is normally defined three different ways.

  1. The first is whether or not an impairment substantially interferes with the person’s ability to continue his or her regular employment despite reasonable efforts to accommodate the person’s impairment and the person’s reasonable efforts to use accommodations to allow the person to continue employment;
  2. An alternative with respect to whether or not an impairment is serious also lies with whether or not that person is able to continue training in a field in which he or she was being trained in before the incident;
  1. The third alternative lies with respect to the definition of serious, that is whether or not impairments have substantially interfered with most of the activities of daily living of the victim, considering his or her age.  The daily activities, which are not defined in the Insurance Act have been defined by Judges in the past as being recreational activities, social activities, housekeeping activities and family activities.  This is why you have been asked, or will be asked about this at your examination for discovery. Also, when defence lawyers hire surveillance companies to survey you, it is often to dissect or take apart the daily activities to show that you do not suffer from a serious impairment or that your daily living is not affected by the accident.

What does the word important mean?

For the function that is impaired to be an important function, that function must be necessary to perform the activities that are essential to your regular or usual employment or necessary to perform the activities that are essential to your training in a career in a field in which you were being trained in before the accident.  For a function that is impaired to be an important function, that function must also be necessary for you to provide for your own care or well-being or be important to the usual activities of daily living, considering your age.  The same categories for daily living apply as above.

What does the word permanent mean?

For an impairment to be permanent the impairment must have been continuous since the accident and must, based on medical evidence and subject to you reasonably participating in recommended treatment of the impairment be expected to not substantially improve.  Also, the impairment must be an impairment that is expected to continue without substantial improvement when sustained by persons in similar circumstances.  This means that at some point a doctor must say that despite your participation in therapy, your injury is not getting better, and he or she does not think that it will substantially improve to any better degree.

Conclusion

Out of all of this it is important to take several things away.

  1. Medical evidence, in addition to other evidence, must support (it is legislated!) your claim that you have sustained a permanent serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function.
  2. Most people fall within the category of injuries interrupting their daily activities.  It is important that you keep notes to tell us how your injuries have interfered with your social, recreational, household or family activities.  This means that if you are subject to permanent symptoms such as sleep disorder, severe neck pains, broken bones, disc herniation, disc bulges, torn tendons and ligaments, metal or hardware that has been surgically involved with healing your fractures or anything that has a significant impediment on your enjoyment of life can be considered a serious impairment.  A Court will always look at your activities and your daily living prior to the car accident, and after the car accident to determine whether or not you meet this threshold.

 

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