Holiday Season Brings More Car Accidents

Holiday Season Brings More Car Accidents

A study done by All State Insurance shows that in the past 20 years, most car accidents have happened on three days: December 21, 22 and 23. The study counted insurance claims for car accidents in 50 separate communities in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and New Brunswick.

 A separate Global News study showed that December 23 is the worst day for car accidents in Toronto. An interesting chart showing the average amount of car accidents each day for 2001-2011 can be found here.

 

police at car accident scene
In Toronto, pedestrians accounted for almost 2/3 of all car accident fatalities in 2013.

Data for car accidents occurring on December 23 in Toronto shows that the top locations for car accidents were Scarborough Town Centre and Dufferin Mall. If you include the rest of the week, the top locations for car accidents also include Yorkdale Mall, Sherway Gardens and Fairview Mall.

Why the spike in car accidents? Clearly there is a link between last minute holiday shopping, rushing and car accidents. Other possible reasons include more people on the roads visiting friends and family, as well as poor weather conditions typical of the winter months.

In 2013, there were 63 total car accident fatalities in Toronto. Of those car accident fatalities, 40 were pedestrians, 7 were drivers, 7 were motorcyclists, 5 were passengers and 4 were cyclists. On a positive note, only 3 car accidents were attributable to drinking and driving.

The car accident fatality rate for Toronto is 2.26 deaths per 100,000 people, which is lower than Edmonton (3.30), Winnipeg (3.12), Ottawa (3.10), Calgary (2.86), Vancouver (2.85), Hamilton (2.62) and Montreal (1.76).

A large part of our practice is representing the families of loved ones that have been killed in car accidents while walking, jogging, running or cycling. More people have died on Canada’s roadways due to car accidents in the past 50 years than the number of Canadian soldiers killed in both world wars.

If a loved one has been died in a pedestrian or bicycle car accident, it is important that you contact a specialized lawyer immediately. The laws concerning pedestrian and cyclist fatalities due to car accidents and auto insurance are quite complex. For example, the Highway Traffic Act tells us the rules of the road and how to obey those rules, however, they do not mandate for or against pedestrians crossing at uncontrolled intersections. Also, when a pedestrian is hit by a car, the law imposes a reverse onus, meaning the driver must prove that he or she was not at all negligent – at all. Every motorist has a duty to be observant of the conditions surrounding them while operating their vehicle and this duty includes keeping a lookout for pedestrians. When the driver of a car ignores safety, there is negligence.

There are also certain issues that a specialized lawyer will be able to assist you with. There may be certain financial benefits available to a person who was hit or killed in a car accident to cover death and funeral costs. There is also the availability of a wrongful death claim which would seek compensation to all eligible surviving family members entitled to financial compensation and recovery for their loss. There may also be death and funeral benefits that a family may be entitled to, as well as financial income losses to help compensate the surviving spouse or child for financial losses they suffer due to increased family responsibilities or perhaps even the loss of a dual family income. Our Oakville car accident lawyers can provide you the specialized representation you need to bring claims for pedestrian or cyclist fatalities due to car accidents. Please contact us for a free consultation.

To see an old post about car accident statistics in Toronto, please click HERE.

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Please contact our law firm for representation in car accidents.

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.

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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Taking on big companies in big ways!

Class actions vs. Mass Tort Litigation

judge gavelThere are many reasons why class actions may commence. The basic reason is that a group of people have all been harmed in a similar way. This could be, but not necessarily,  as a result of product, company, or environmental issues. All of these may require a class action or mass tort litigation for those impacted to receive compensation.

 

When a person purchases something, whether for medical reasons or simply “just because”, there is a certain trust we as consumers have that the product will not be defective. On many occasions, a defective product is not the end of the world. One may simply need to call the company and request a new product. On the other hand, there are times when a defective product can cause serious health, economic and psychological issues, in which the consumer deserves compensation accordingly, which is when a class action or mass tort litigation action may be necessary. A class action or mass tort litigation action can arise when it is not only one consumer that has been impacted by the defective product.

One of Will Davidson’s defective product experiences is with allegedly defective pelvic mesh devices, where hundreds of plaintiffs have come forward with claims. Will Davidson had to decide the best way to proceed for their clients and the claimants of this action. Therefore, the following is an important question: What is the difference between a class action and mass tort litigation?

In class actions, the plaintiffs involved need to fall under a strict “commonality” requirement, amongst other things. Remember that class actions are tried together-as one. An example of the consequences of this, is the following: When a settlement is paid out, it is split between the parties. Therefore, you may not get as much as you feel fair in class actions. In class actions, all plaintiffs are in it together and there are many restrictions and court proceedings that need to be followed to ensure a proper class action. Despite the complications, certification, which is the ability to begin a class action, is a lot less difficult in Canada than it is in the States. This is a positive reason to proceed under this umbrella.

Mass Tort Litigation: Mass tort litigation allows for individuality. The commonality requirement is not there as it is in class actions. Defective products, although they might injure many people, may not cause the exact injury and therefore, a commonality requirement is difficult to satisfy. This is one of the positive reasons why one should proceed under mass tort litigation.

In the end, individual circumstances are the deciding factor as to whether a case proceeds in a class action or individually with mass tort litigation. As courts get more and more comfortable with these types of cases, either the class action route or the mass tort litigation route, may come out as the winner. Despite the “newness” of these types of class action legal proceedings in Canada, do not be afraid to take on who you need to, to get the compensation you deserve! If you have sustained personal injury from a defective product, 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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Accident Benefits Denials 101

Accident benefits being denied? You can do something about it!

Denied DocumentIf you have been in a car accident you may apply for and receive accident benefits. Accident benefits can be in the form of income replacement benefits or a caregiver benefit, but accident benefits also can help with medical costs, treatments and attendant care costs. The insurance company will pay these accident benefits to the person injured in the car accident once the appropriate Auto Insurance Claim Forms are filled out.

However, accident benefits are not necessarily a long-lasting payment and it is important to understand what happens if you receive a letter denying your claims.  Take the following example: When you submit a form to the insurance company for a treatment plan, the insurer will often set up a medical examination to confirm the necessity and reasonableness of the proposed treatment plan. Depending on what the insurer’s medical examiner determines, you may be denied accident benefits for that treatment plan.

What happens next? It is important that you understand that this does not always mean accident benefits are no longer possible for you. You must apply to the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO). If your medical treatment benefit, or other benefit, has been denied  it is important you take action and contact FSCO for mediation. FSCO will then schedule a mediation, supposedly within 60 days of receiving the application for mediation, but this might take longer. At mediation, negotiations around your disputed accident benefits will take place. You can negotiate for yourself, or through your lawyer. These negotiations will ideally come to a resolution of the disputed accident benefit that pleases both parties.

If mediation fails, your plight is not necessarily over with. You may either file a Statement of Claim through the Courts, which will begin a court action, or you can apply for arbitration through FSCO. With both of these, a decision-maker will decide what, if anything, you receive. Like any court action, there are deadlines to submit a Statement of Claim or an application for arbitration. Make sure to educate yourself on these deadlines so you are not prevented from getting what you deserve! This is basic information regarding the process you can do if and when your accident benefits are denied. An important website you can check out for information/instructions and important forms is:

http://www.fsco.ca/en/forms/Pages/default.aspx

If you or a loved one has sustained personal injury from a car accident and wish to gain more information on accident benefits, accident benefit denials, and tort claims and legal options, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm 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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Halloween horrors-slip and falls and accidents that lead to frightening injuries

Halloween accidents causing injury

On Halloween, children and adults alike will be wandering about in frightening costumes looking to receive delicious treats and provide a few “scares”. You may expect to jump from an actor causing horror and to see lots of fake blood, but it is important to ensure that you stick to the fake stuff and not have to worry about real injuries and real blood that may occur from a slip and fall or other accident.

A slip and fall can happen at any time or any place and injuries can be quite futile, but also extremely dangerous. Nobody wants to see a true Halloween horror occur, but it is important to understand what may happen if you slip and fall as you are roaming around to different neighbors’ houses collecting goodies. It is not only your neighbor, as an occupier of the property, that has responsibility (a duty of care) to reasonably ensure people on their property are kept safe from a slip and fall, but you the patron, visitor, pedestrian or even the trick-or-treater, have a responsibility to be careful too.  If you are injured in a slip and fall, you must prove that there was a dangerous condition and that dangerous condition caused you to slip and fall. You must also prove that the owner was aware of this dangerous condition and had the chance to reasonably fix the danger. Dangerous conditions can be many of a thing, but some include an uneven sidewalk, ice on the walkway that has not been attempted to be remedied or a dangerous object lying on the ground.

Jack O LanternAnother Halloween horror, that has been an increasing problem, is the danger of haunted hay ride accidents. Whether a horse is spooked, or you are spooked and fall off the hayride, they can be a dangerous activity. Only a couple of weeks ago, 5 teenagers were injured in a hay ride accident in Alabama. There is always a risk of an accident when partaking in these types of rides; however, if there has been negligence on the part of the hay ride owners or drivers, as to the trail they use and the manner in which the ride is operated, there could be a case to be made. Currently, in Michigan, a lady who was operating the hay ride tractor had an accident, fell and became paralyzed. She has begun a law suit for compensation for her injuries from the accident. According to CBS Detroit, the claim may include that the trail the hay ride took was down a dangerous and steep hill with uneven grounds which caused the accident. If this case does not go through workers compensation, this is one of the factors that the Plaintiff will argue was an act of negligence on behalf of the Defendant.

A final Halloween horror can happen as you are being terrified at a Haunted house. In the case of Deborah Mays v. Gretna Athletic Boosters Inc., the Plaintiff went to a haunted house for a fright, but ended up with an injury: a broken and bleeding nose. The Plaintiff got so spooked that she ran directly into a cinder block wall. In this case, the Defendant was not responsible for the Plaintiff’s injury. The haunted house was not unreasonably dangerous, nor was the Defendant’s actions unreasonable, since the Plaintiff presumably went to the haunted house for a good scare, which is what she got.

Whether you are trick-or-treating on your neighbors’ properties, or taking part in Halloween adventures that cause you to have a slip and fall or other accident, it is important for you to take the proper precautions to ensure your own safety. However, if someone else has not taken the proper and reasonable precautions to ensure your safety and a slip and fall or accident occurs, you may have questions about what your legal options are. If you or a loved one has sustained personal injury from a slip and fall or another accident, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm about your legal rights. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

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Overseas adventure gone bad: Do you have legal recourse?

Having an accident overseas in a foreign jurisdiction can happen.

Resort trips down south can be full of fun and adventure, however accidents can happen that cause injuries anywhere, including on your 5 star resorts in the middle of Cuba or Mexico (for example).  If you get injured overseas, will a Canadian province have jurisdiction to enable you to commence an action against the foreign defendant where the accident occurred? What are your options to commence an action against those that have caused or contributed to your injury overseas in another jurisdiction? Unfortunately, due to a new case, it is harder for Canadians injured while traveling to get compensation for those injuries.

Prior to the case of Club Resorts Limited v. Van Breda, Canadians could successfully bring an action forward if there was a real and substantial connection between the foreign defendant and the forum asserting jurisdiction (Canada). This allowed for more lenient arguments to be made, but Van Breda has made the test for jurisdiction over a foreign defendant that much harder.  The following has to be determined, and at least one of these has to be proven, for a Canadian province to deem jurisdiction over a foreign defendant:

overseas accidentsa)           the defendant is domiciled or resident in the province;

(b)         the defendant carries on business in the province;

(c)         the tort was committed in the province; and

(d)         a contract connected with the dispute was made in the province.

Even more recently, in the case of Haufler v. Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, a young women was injured while on an ATV excursion in Mexico. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice decided Ontario did not have jurisdiction to bring an action against the Riu resort and the ATV company involved, as the foreign defendants did not fit within any of the above connecting factors. The parties all admitted that the only factor to be argued was whether or not the defendant(s) carries on business in Ontario, and thus allow Ontario jurisdiction over the case against the foreign defendant(s). Despite this, the court found that despite the defendant(s) carrying on a considerable amount of business with Ontarians, that did not mean that the defendant(s) actually carries on business in Ontario.

Do not cease to take part in adventures while in a foreign jurisdiction, but when you are snorkeling with the dolphins, hiking a mountain, riding an ATV or even lounging on a beach chair, realize that legal action from Canada may not be a possibility for you. Do not count on being able to bring a law suit against a foreign defendant, without understanding the factors that will allow Ontario jurisdiction over the defendant. Always have travel insurance and ensure that you are careful. Most of the time your travels will be injury free, but if an accident does occur in a foreign jurisdiction, it may not be as easy to bring a lawsuit against a foreign defendant as it once was. Despite this, it is important to remember that the four factors allow for some cases to be brought forward and Ontario will sometimes assume jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. If you have questions about what your options are due to a personal injury that has befallen you in Canada or afar, do not hesitate to contact our personal injury law firm about your legal rights.

 

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Distracted Driving Accident taken to New Heights

Texting while Driving interferes with driver multitasking

The statistics on distracted driving car accidents throughout North America are quite horrendous.  In the United States it’s estimated that approximately 5,400 people lost their lives in distracted driving car accidents in 2009. It’s further estimated that nearly half a million others suffered injuries in car accidents involving distracted driving.   In a recently released statement by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) we learned that we are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident if we text while driving and four times more likely if we talk on a cellphone (hand-held or hands-free) while driving. The IBC also told us that distracted drivers experience the same level of impairment as someone man driving and using cell phonewith a blood-alcohol content of .08 and that distracted driving is estimated to be a contributing factor in eight out of 10 police-reported car accidents. Distracted driving could be described as any type of activity that takes your attention away as a driver which takes away from the responsibility of controlling your car – thereby causing a car accident.  Distracted driving can be caused by a hand held devices such as a cell phone, smart phone or iPod but also caused by hand held GPS’, eating or drinking, watching a video, reading a map on your iPhone or even something as simple as putting on makeup.

In 2011 texting and driving was taken to new heights.  A recent NTSB investigation showed that a pilot that was flying a medic helicopter in Missouri was highly distracted from texting.  The NTSB documented 240 text messages sent and received by the pilot during his day shift leading up to the accident.   Right before the accident there was 20 recorded texts.  The distraction from texting prevented the pilot from taking off without enough fuel and without knowing he did not have enough fuel reserves.  The pilot also failed to properly perform a manoeuvre that could have possibly allowed a soft landing after the engine quit but he was not sufficiently trained to do so.  The NTSB found that the pilot had missed three opportunities or checks to discover that he did not have enough fuel and that he could have possibly made an emergency landing minutes before the crash.  The NTSB was unsure if he was texting during the flight or texting during the moments before the crash.  This unfortunate accident killed a patient that was being transported from one hospital to another as well as a paramedic and flight nurse.  This was the first time the NTSB had recorded a Smartphone device causing or contributing to a fatal commercial accident.

Distracted Driving Accidents

This is an extreme example of distracted driving although quite seminal for the fact that it  was the first recorded air crash which was caused or contributed to by being distracted by texting.  Texting was thought to have interfered with the pilot’s multitasking requirements to ensure flight safety.  Quite similarly distracted driving has become a major threat on Ontario’s roadways and a main contributor of car accidents.  Driving also requires multitasking and those who use hand-free devices, speech-to-text technology, texting while driving or emailing requires a technological “tunnel vision” level of concentration that prevents drivers from taking in the visual information of their surroundings.  Being distracted while driving with a Smartphone or any hand held device causes a fundamental constraint that limits ones ability to drive and cause deadly car accidents.  Unfortunately people are still disobeying the law in droves and car accidents keep happening.

If you have been the victim injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver you have legal rights.  Please contact our Oakville car accident law firm for more information.

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