Is improper car seat usage contributing to children’s car accident injuries?

There are few things more distressing for car accident lawyers than litigating injury claims involving children. Unfortunately, these cases are a reality of the job: according to Transport Canada, more than 2000 Canadian children between the ages of 1 and 4 are injured or killed in car crashes each year. Quebec’s auto insurance board, SAAQ, recently reported that car accident injuries to children had risen by 8 per cent between 2012 and 2016, even while injuries and fatalities fell across the general population. According to an SAAQ spokesperson, improperly used car seats may have played an important role in this trend.

With that in mind, the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP would like to offer an overview of proper car seat and booster seat use, and answer some frequently asked questions.

What type of car seat does my child need?

Your child’s age and size generally dictates which car seat is best suited for them. Infants should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least one-year-old, and weigh at least 22 lbs. Even if your child is over one year of age, you should abide by the car seat’s instructions: if your child fits the seat’s recommended height and weight, keep them in it. There’s no need to rush to a front-facing seat.

At a certain point, however, your child will outgrow the rear-facing seat and will need something bigger. Children between 22 lbs. and 40 lbs. will generally be well-suited to a front facing seat. This stage usually lasts until the child is around four years old.

When your child gets too big for a front-facing car seat, it’s time to graduate to a booster seat, which they will occupy until they grow taller than 4’9”, or older than 9-years-old.

Proper rear- and front-facing car seat use

New car models must be equipped with a Universal Anchorage System (UAS), which facilitates the installation of both front and rear-facing car seats. Before you install your car seat, however, be sure to carefully read the manual and check that your child fits its specifications.

For rear-facing car seats, make sure the seat is positioned at a 45° angle. If the slope of your seat does not allow for this, you can use a firm towel roll or pool noodle to ensure the seat is positioned safely.

Front-facing car seats must be secured with a tether strap, which is attached at the top of the car seat. If your car doesn’t come equipped with tether anchors, consider asking your automotive dealer to install them.

Booster seats

Once your child has graduated to a booster seat, they will begin using your car’s installed seatbelt system. The seatbelt should fit your child like it does an adult: make sure the shoulder strap lays over the middle of your child’s collarbone rather than the neck, and that the lap belt lays over the hips, not the stomach.

Even with a properly installed car seat or booster seat, some automotive injuries are unavoidable. If you or your child has been injured in an accident, contact the car accident lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how we can help.

 

Photo credit: Lars Plougmann/Flickr

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.

Personal Injury Awards in Canada

Personal Injury

While we are used to seeing sky-high personal injury awards in the United States, Canadian courts occasionally award personal injury awards in the millions. In an article published by the CBC here, a number of large court awards were discussed.

So what kinds of claims get these high personal injury awards? Keep reading…

Justice pillar

 

Marcoccia v. Gill, Purba Furniture Ltd. and Ford Credit Canada Ltd.

$16.9 million personal injury award by jury in 2009

Robert Marcoccia, 20, collided head on with a furniture delivery truck that entered the intersection on the amber was trying to turn left on the red at Rexdale and Humberwood in Toronto.  The driver of the furniture truck, Bhupinder Singh Gill, was found 61% at fault because he failed to make his left turn safely. Mr. Marcoccia suffered personal injury to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain. This affected his behavior, social abilities, emotional regulation, ability to plan and ability to understand the consequences of his actions.  He will never be able to  He requires 24/7 care for the rest of his life due to this personal injury.

 

Sandhu v. Wellington Place Apartments

$14.2 million personal injury award by jury in 2008

On June 5, 1997, Harvinder Sandhu, 2, fell five stories through a damaged window at his relative’s apartment on Martin Grove Road in Toronto. He landed on concrete and suffered multiple fractures and a permanent frontal lobe brain personal injury. The landlord of the unit was found 90% liable, as it had not fixed a broken screen through which Harvinder fell, although it had been requested many times. Harvinder will function at the level of a 12-year-old child for the rest of his life and requires 24/7 care as a result of his personal injury.

 

Gordon & Morrison v. Greig

 $11.37 million for Derek Gordon and $12.33 million for Ryan Morrison personal injury awards by judge in 2008

In September 2003, Corey Greig was driving up to a cottage weekend with his friends Ryan Morrison and Derek Gordon.  Mr. Greig was intoxicated and while driving at a high speed, swerved to miss an oncoming car and lost control of the vehicle.  The vehicle rolled and Mr. Morrison and Mr. Gordon were thrown into the ditch. Both suffered serious personal injury: Mr. Morrison was rendered a paraplegic and Mr. Gordon sustained a catastrophic brain injury. Both require 24/7 care for the rest of their lives.

 

MacNeil v. Bryan

$18.4 million personal injury award by judge in 2009

On August 2, 2002, Katherine-Paige MacNeil, 15, was a backseated passenger in the car of 16-year-old Trevor Bryan. Mr. Bryan went through a stop sign on a rural road in Adjala-Tosorontio Township and the car ended up smashed in a ditch. Ms. MacNail suffered a skull fracture and catastrophic brain injuries.

 

MacNeil v. Bryan

$18.4 million personal injury award by judge in 2009

On August 2, 2002, Katherine-Paige MacNeil, 15, was a backseated passenger in the car of 16-year-old Trevor Bryan. Mr. Bryan went through a stop sign on a rural road in Adjala-Tosorontio Township and the car ended up smashed in a ditch. Ms. MacNail suffered a skull fracture and catastrophic brain injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury, you have rights. Contact our personal injury law firm confidentially for more information.
 

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Will Davidson: Personal injury law firm in Oakville.

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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When Poor Road Conditions Cause Car Accidents: What You Can Do

Poor road conditions, potholes and prevention

Have you been in a car accident caused by poor road conditions?

Poor road conditions cause up to 10% of car accidents.

Pothole Dufferin St Toronto
Pothole on Dufferin Street, Toronto, Ontario

While 90% of car accidents are caused by driver error, the other 10% are caused by poor road conditions such as potholes, erosion, shoulder drop-offs, missing guardrails, lack of maintenance and bad design. These accidents can cause car damage, serious personal injury and even death. In situations where poor road conditions led to a car accident, who is responsible?

In Ontario, responsibility for road conditions is shared between municipalities and the province. Municipalities are responsible for maintaining city streets. The Province of Ontario is responsible for maintaining provincial highways, such as the 400-series highways (401, 400, QEW, etc.) and smaller numbered highways (11, 35, 169, etc.). Provinces and municipalities are permitted to hire agencies and contractors to maintain roads and deal with poor road conditions. If your car was damaged or you suffered personal injury as a result of poor road conditions, it may be possible to bring a claim again the entities the city or province hired to complete the maintenance as well.

If you were involved in a car accident caused by poor road conditions a number of elements will have to be proven in order for liability to be found:

  1. First, it will be essential to show that the poor road conditions actually caused damage to the car and/or personal injury. In doing so, any arguments that the driver’s poor driving or other condition (such as weather) caused the accident will have to be dispelled.
  2. Second, it must be shown that the municipality or province (or the agency they hired) had a duty to maintain the road in question and keep it safe.
  3. Third, you must demonstrate that the municipality, province and/or agency were negligent in preventing and/or dealing with poor road conditions and maintaining the road. In some situations, it may also be incumbent on the plaintiff to show that the municipality, province and/or agency had a duty to warn drivers of poor road conditions where they presented a danger to drivers.

If you are considering suing a municipality, province or agency for damages for personal injury or damage to your vehicle due to poor road conditions, is very important to remember that there is a two year limitation period within which you must bring your claim. The two year limitation period generally starts on the day the car accident occurred. After this two-year period is up, you will not be permitted to make a personal injury claim.

One way we can all make the roads safer for everyone is to report poor road conditions to the municipality or province, as the case may be. Most municipalities have a 311 number people can call to report poor road conditions such as potholes, missing guard rails and road erosion. When calling about a pothole, be prepared to give the exact location of the pothole and a description of it. You can also report potholes to your local CAA branch or online at their website.

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or damage to a vehicle in a car accident where poor road conditions are a factor, please contact our Oakville personal injury law firm for more information about personal injury sustained due to poor road conditions.

 If you’re curious, here are the Top 10 Worst Roads in Ontario (2014), according to a CAA poll:

  1. Dufferin Street (Toronto)
  2. Stanley Avenue (Niagara Falls)
  3. Kipling Avenue (Toronto)
  4. Finch Avenue West (Toronto)
  5. Burlington Street East (Hamilton)
  6. Bayview Avenue (Toronto)
  7. Carling Avenue (Ottawa)
  8. Markham Road (Toronto)
  9. Lawrence Avenue East (Toronto)
  10. Wilson Avenue (Toronto)

Source: CAA

 

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Have you been hit by a city streetcar or bus?

Have you suffered a personal injury in an accident with a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit, Brampton Transit or other city streetcar or bus?

TTC City Bus

If you were involved in an accident that resulted in personal injury with a vehicle owned and operated by a city, such as the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit or Brampton Transit, you may have legal rights to seek financial compensation for your injuries. The legal process may seem daunting, but with the help of our personal injury law firm, you can get the just and fair compensation which you deserve. 

A personal injury lawyer can help you to understand your legal rights and the complicated process of obtaining financial compensation for a personal injury sustained due to an accident with a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit, Brampton Transit and/or other city streetcar or bus. Depending on the type of personal injury and your role in the accident, you may be entitled to statutory accident benefits coverage, which provides financial compensation for your personal injury. You may also have a civil personal injury tort claim against the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit, Brampton Transit or other city agency involved in the accident. A lawyer at our personal injury law firm will be able to give you more information about your legal rights to compensation for your injury.

If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to a collision with a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit or Brampton Transit city vehicle, please contact our personal injury law firm for a free consultation if you would like more information on your legal rights against the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), Oakville Transit, Mississauga Transit or Brampton Transit.  You may have legal rights due to your personal injury.

 

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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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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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