Are Changes Coming to Ontario’s Slip and Fall Laws?

A Progressive Conservative (PC) politician has proposed changes to the rules around slip and fall lawsuits involving snow and ice in Ontario. Bill 118, sponsored by Parry Sound–Muskoka MPP Norman Miller, would update the Occupiers’ Liability Act and compel plaintiffs in slip and fall cases to notify defendants of their intention to sue within 10 days of the accident. The provincial NDPs and several slip and fall lawyers have criticized the proposal.

Today, personal injury victims in Ontario have two years from the time of their accident to initiate a civil lawsuit. This grace period provides time to seek medical care, pursue rehabilitation, assess financial needs, and decide whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. Reducing the grace period puts potentially-traumatized injury victims on the hot seat and may limit their ability to pursue a lawsuit.

“How is the customer who slips and falls in the parking lot of a strip mall supposed to find out the landlord’s name and address within the time frame?” asked Tom Rakocevic, NDP critic for Government Services and Consumer Protection, according to Canadian Underwriter. “That information is not readily, and certainly not publicly, available, as in the case of municipalities, except to a small segment of industry insiders who work in real estate.”

“A 10-day notice to serve is simply not an adequate time frame, especially for those who have been injured and may be dealing with doctors’ appointments and medical treatments,” added NDP deputy leader Sara Singh.

But the Bill’s sponsor believes changes are necessary to protect businesses in the province. MPP Miller argued that snow removal contractors and other seasonal service providers sometimes have difficulty purchasing insurance due to delayed personal injury claims.

“In many cases, as soon as there is compensation involved for clearing snow, a company’s premiums increase significantly,” Miller said. “This comes from the insurance company’s fear of having to cover potential lawsuits as far as one or even two years into the future.”

The plan would allow businesses to maintain records and preserve evidence following an accident, the Bill’s supporters argue. It would also allow plaintiffs who miss the 10-day window to pursue their claim provided they have a “reasonable excuse.”

While private member’s bills are rarely passed into law, slip and fall lawyers and opposition politicians have reason to be concerned in this case. According to Canadian Underwriter, most PC MPPs ‘spoke generally in favour’ of the bill.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our team of experienced Oakville slip and fall lawyers can help.

Weather Causes Lawsuit Landslide in Windsor

An “unprecedented” number of damages claims were filed against the City of Windsor last year, with most of the increase attributable to pothole claims and slip and fall injuries. The city awarded very few payouts, however; lawsuits against municipalities are often uphill battles for plaintiffs, as any slip and fall lawyer can attest.

“When we’re assessing a claim and whether or not to pay it, we look at: were we acting reasonably, did we do everything we could have done in the circumstances,” deputy city solicitor Dana Paladino told the Windsor Star in April. Plaintiffs in these cases must prove that the municipality was negligent in its duties, a difficult claim to substantiate.

The City of Windsor received 185 claims for damages relating to potholes in 2018, up from 51 the year before. It also received 37 slip and fall claims, up from 22. The slip and fall claims were of more concern to the city: pothole damages usually range from $500 to $1,000; slip and fall damages are generally much higher.

Indeed, of the $2.5-million that the city paid to claimants last year, 37 per cent went to slip and fall victims and 29 per cent went to trip and fall victims. Just five per cent addressed property damages.

What caused the sudden surge of lawsuits? The city blames the weather.

“We’re unfortunate in that we’re probably in the worse weather zone in North America for freeze/thaw cycles,” city engineer Mark Winterton told the Star. “That’s a recipe for a pothole, numerous freeze/thaw cycles.”

Wild temperature fluctuation in February and March also caused sidewalks to become extremely slippery, which led to the uptick in slip and fall claims.

Even with extreme weather causing hazardous conditions, every slip and fall lawyer recognizes the challenges of lawsuits against municipalities. Ontario’s cities and towns are hard-pressed to maintain roads and sidewalks during the winter. High-density and high traffic neighbourhoods must be prioritized, which leads to safety risks in other areas. If a person is injured due to a slippery sidewalk in a low-priority zone, they have little legal recourse.

If you or a member of your family have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville Lawyers to speak with an experienced slip and fall lawyer today. Our team can assess the viability of your claim and lay out your legal options. Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.

Image credit: SmartSign/Flickr

Winter’s over; slip and fall season is not

With winter now over, it’s tempting to assume that slip and fall injuries will decrease across Canada. But as every slip and fall lawyer knows, new risk factors emerge with every season.

The tiny State of Vermont, home to just over 620,000 people, recorded 5,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths due to falls in 2018. The state’s harsh winters contributed to part of that total, but health officials say most falls occur during the spring.

“People don’t necessarily fall in the wintertime,” said Tanya Wells, injury prevention chief at the Vermont Department of Health, to WCAX. “What happens is they stay inside all winter, they get weak, they don’t get the vitamin D from the sun and they come out in the spring and summer and have a fall.”

Other springtime risk factors include unpredictable weather such as heavy rain; dangerous road and sidewalk conditions caused by winter weather and temperature fluctuations; and debris on road surfaces caused by a combination of the two. All of these factors are also common in Ontario.

Another reason for Vermont’s elevated slip and fall numbers is the age of the population. Vermont is a popular retirement destination, and seniors are at increased risk of both falling and sustaining serious injuries from falls. Ontario’s population is also aging, as every slip and fall lawyer knows, and may be fearful of suffering a slip and fall injury.

Worried about a fall? Here’s what to do.

As Wells noted to WCAX, “people who are afraid to fall are actually at a higher risk to fall.”

If you feel at risk of suffering a slip and fall injury, it may be useful to take some precautionary measures. First, arrange a visit to your doctor. They can help assess your fall risk and suggest exercises, procedures, or medications to improve your safety.

Next, develop a plan to follow in case of a fall. Ask neighbours, family or friends to check in if they haven’t heard from you in a while, and make sure you have a way to get in touch with someone if a fall should occur.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If you don’t feel confident about descending a flight of stairs in public, ask for a hand from a bystander. If you’re not sure you can walk to the grocery store or post office, ask for a drive from a friend.

Contact Will Davidson LLP if you’re injured in a fall.

If you suffer an injury in a fall, contact Will Davidson LLP to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced slip and fall lawyer. Our team will determine the viability of your claim and assemble a plan to help you access compensation.

New Developments in Personal Injury Cases: Fitbit Now Being Used to Prove Personal Injury Losses

New Developments in Personal Injury Cases

 Proving Damages in Personal Injury Matters Using “Fitbit”

fitbit tracker
Source: www.fitbit.com

 In Calgary, new developments in personal injury law permit personal injury lawyers to prove their client’s claims with quantifiable data.

Fitbit, a popular fitness tracker, is being used by a Calgary law firm to show a client’s diminished physical activity levels in a personal injury claim. The client was a personal trainer who suffered injuries that prevent her from being as active as she used to be. This is apparently the first time that Fitbit data will be used in a personal injury case in Canadian court, or any other case for that matter.

What does this mean for personal injury law? A more quantifiable way to prove a client’s loss due to personal injury. However, it also means that insurers may attempt to get orders for the production of this information from Fitbit’s owner, Vivametrica, in order to show that a plaintiff did not in fact suffer the personal injury to the extent they alleged.

Read more about this interesting development in personal injury law here.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury, whether it be from a car accident, slip and fall, or any other cause,  you have legal rights.

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Please contact our Oakville personal injury law firm for more information about bringing a claim for personal injury damages and scheduling a free consultation.

Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing Home Negligence

There comes a time in a person’s life, where they or their family members need to decide if a long-term facility, such as a nursing home, is the right move. One needs to be ensured that they will be taken care of in a nursing home and that no negligence will occur. Families worry about their loved ones just as much, and it is important for all that their mother, father, grandparents or any other relative is safe in a nursing home and does not fall victim to nursing home negligence. Although there are many fantastic nursing homes out there, there are many cases of nursing home negligence. In today’s era of aging baby boomers, nursing homes will only get busier, and thus more negligence cases may arise.

Nursing Home NegligenceNursing home negligence can be physical or emotionally caused. For example, in 2013, CTV news reported that an 85 year old woman was being mistreated in a nursing home in Peterborough Ontario. She was seen having a feces-covered rag waved in her face and also having her diaper changed with the door wide-open. There were also suspicious circumstances surrounding a black eye and bruises. Another example of nursing home negligence includes a growing concern regarding residents being given potentially lethal anti psychotic drugs, which can be used to help aggression and acting out. There are certain types of these drugs that can cause severe adverse reactions and many residents, who are not even prescribed these drugs, have been victim to this adverse reaction as they have been ingesting the drug. Other types of nursing home negligence include dropping residents, yelling at residents, neglecting residents and leaving residents unattended for hours upon hours, which can create bedsores. According to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, Nursing homes have a zero-tolerance policy for any time of negligence or abuse. Therefore,  if negligence occurs, those people injured, should be compensated.

Nursing homes are expected to provide a safe environment for those living there, and many are! A nursing home should be a clean, happy and pleasant place where people can live without worry of negligence. However, if you are a resident of a nursing home, or you are a loved one of a nursing home resident, that has been victim to nursing home negligence, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm to find out what your legal rights are.

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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Personal Injuries Can Impact The Entire Family

Family Law Claims

When you sustain a personal injury from a car accident, slip and fall or other accident, your injury can be detrimental to your normal lifestyle. However, those close to you may also be gravely impacted due to an injury that you sustained, despite them not being physically injured. It is because of this, that close family members have the option to bring forth a claim under the Family Law Act (FLA) to receive compensation for what they too have been put through because of their loved one’s injury from a car accident, slip and fall or other accident.

For instance, if you are in a car accident and suffer an injury which results in chronic pain, you may not have the same abilities as you once had.  In this example, your spouse may be required to take on extra responsibilities within the home. Additionally, your relationship may suffer or change due to the injuries you sustained in the car accident. If this is the case, your spouse would be able to make a claim under section 61 of the FLA, which can be summarized as follows: This section allows a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters of the person injured to recover damages for expenses incurred by them for their loved one’s injury, travel expenses, housekeeping and nursing services and compensation for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that the claimant might reasonably have expected to receive from the person with the injury, if the injury from the accident had not occurred.

In the recent case of Lee v. Toronto District School Board, et al. 2013 ONSC 3085 (CanLII), a little boy was severely injured in a school ground accident by another child. The boy’s parents and sister claimed under the family law act for an amount to compensate for the loss of guidance, care and companionship that the claimant might reasonably have expected to receive from the person if the injury from the accident had not occurred. The judge fixed the damages for the claimants at $50,000.00 for each parent and $30,000.00 for the sister.

Another example of an FLA claim occurs in the 2009 case of Degenarro v. Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. The plaintiff suffered an injury after an accident in a hospital was caused by a faulty bed. Her condition caused stressed in her marriage and relationships with her children which were unlikely to improve. The plaintiff’s husband was awarded $65,000.00 and her two sons were awarded $25,000.00 each for loss of guidance, care and companionship

Loss of guidance, care and companionship can mean the loss of contribution that the loved one that sustained the injury in an accident can no longer provide. It could also mean that the loved one’s relationships with his or her spouse and children have been negatively impacted. Perhaps a spouse can no longer be intimate with their partner, or a mother can no longer be attentive to their child; these are both examples of circumstances that may warrant an FLA claim. If you have questions about what your options are due to a personal injury that has befallen you or a loved one from an accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm about your legal rights and your family members’ legal rights.

 

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