When are Hosts Responsible for Guests’ Injuries?

A personal injury lawsuit in British Columbia’s Supreme Court could inform Canada’s evolving social host liability rules. The case, in which Calder McCormick is seeking damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident following a 2012 house party, went to trial in mid-February. Personal injury lawyers are eagerly anticipating the decision.

What is Social Host Liability?

Social host liability applies when the host of a social gathering owes a duty of care to an injury victim. It is generally considered in cases involving alcohol.

Determining social host liability requires answering numerous questions. If, for example, a host provides alcohol to his or her guests and one of those guests becomes impaired, is the host responsible for the safety of that guest when they leave the premises? Is the host responsible for the safety of people the guest might come in contact with? Does liability still exist if the guest consumes his or her own alcohol? How does the equation change when the guest is underage?

Relevant Cases

Some of these questions have been answered in resolved cases that personal injury lawyers are well aware of, including Childs v Desormeaux and Wardak v Froom.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s 2006 ruling in Childs v Desormeaux informs much of what is known about social host liability. In that case, the plaintiff, Childs, was injured in a drunk driving accident caused by the defendant, who had recently left a private New Year’s celebration. The courts were asked to determine whether the hosts of the celebration were liable or partly liable for Childs’ injuries.

All three courts found that the hosts were not liable as they had not served alcohol to Desormeaux (the event was BYOB – Bring Your Own Booze) and had monitored his drinking to the same extent as other guests. The hosts also asked Desormeaux whether he was alright before he left and did not realize the extent of his inebriation. In other words, the hosts were not reasonably able to foresee that Desormeaux would cause an accident resulting in injuries to himself or others. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled that the proximity between the hosts and the plaintiff was insufficient.

“Hosting a party at which alcohol is served does not, without more, establish the degree of proximity required to give rise to a duty of care on the hosts to third party highway users who may be injured by an intoxicated guest,” the ruling reads.

In Wardak v Froom, a case from 2017, Ontario Superior Court Justice Wendy Matheson interpreted “without more” to mean that a duty of care could arise. In that case, the plaintiff, Dean Wardak, suffered catastrophic injuries in a single-car accident after attending the 19th birthday party of his neighbour, Graeme Froom. Froom’s parents hosted the gathering. They did not serve alcohol but understood that guests were drinking. During the evening, Wardak became intoxicated, left the Frooms’ residence, walked home, got into his car, and drove into a fire hydrant. Evidence suggests the hosts knew Wardak was intoxicated when he left. He is now quadriplegic.

Justice Matheson ruled in the plaintiff’s favour. Although she did not find that Wardak’s injuries were reasonably foreseeable, she determined that the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant was one of paternalistic supervision. The fact that the plaintiff was underage and showed signs of intoxication also played into the decision, as did the fact that he was an invited guest, unlike the plaintiff in Childs v Desormeaux

The Case in British Columbia

The case in British Columbia also involves underage drinking at a supervised party. In September 2012, young people, including 18-year-old Ryan Plambeck and 17-year-old Calder McCormick, gathered at the home of Stephen and Lidia Pearson on Salt Spring Island. The couple were parents to teenage children.

After spending time at the party, the boys ventured across the street to a neighbour’s lot. There, they found an unlocked, uninsured for-sale automobile with the keys inside. They took the car. Plambeck drove with McCormick in the passenger seat. Before long, they lost control of the car and crashed off the road. Plambeck died and McCormick suffered catastrophic, life-changing injuries, including a severe traumatic brain injury.

In 2014, McCormick filed a lawsuit against the Pearsons and several other parties. The lawsuit alleged that the Pearsons breached their duty of care to their underage guests by allowing them to drink on their property and failing to stop them from leaving while impaired.

“Basically, [they] did nothing to stop him from ending up on the road,” one of McCormick’s personal injury lawyers told CBC News British Columbia.

The Pearsons have denied all allegations. However, the case against them appears to resemble Wardak v Froom more than Childs v Desormeaux, in that it involves an underage plaintiff who consumed alcohol on their premises. The BC Supreme Court’s decision could influence how and when hosts invite guests – particularly underage guests – to consume alcohol on their property.

Contact Will Davidson LLP to Learn More

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced Oakville personal injury lawyers. Our team has expertise in a wide variety of personal injury claims, including matters involving social host liability. Reach out today to learn more.

Time Limits in Personal Injury Law

One of the first pieces of advice that a personal injury lawyer offers potential clients is to act quickly. This isn’t done to pressure clients into legal action – it’s done because personal injury lawsuits in Ontario are subject to time limits, sometimes referred to as statutes of limitations, under the province’s Limitations Act. In the following article, we’ll explain how time limits affect personal injury claims, why they are in place, and their variations and exceptions.

Time Limits in Personal Injury Law

Ontario’s Limitations Act states that ‘Unless this Act provides otherwise, a proceeding shall not be commenced in respect of a claim after the second anniversary of the day on which the claim was discovered.’

In other words, people who have been injured by the error or negligence of another person generally have two years from the time of the accident to file a claim against an insurer or the at-fault party. This rule applies to anyone that suffers immediate serious injuries, such as spinal injuries, brain injuries, paralysis, etc.

In cases where the injury is discovered later than the date of the accident, the two-year limitation period starts from the moment of discovery. When the injury initially appears to be minor but deteriorates to the point where a lawsuit is warranted, the limitation period starts at the moment it becomes clear that legal action is necessary.

Why Are Time Limits in Place?

Ontario’s two-year limitation period is predominantly in place to protect defendants. Almost every personal injury lawyer agrees that limitation periods are necessary – claims filed decades after an accident would be plagued by insufficient evidence, unreliable testimony, and other challenges.

Some lawyers believe two years is insufficient, however. The number was chosen because it was presumed to give plaintiffs and defendants enough time to hire representation, and provide lawyers with leeway to perform research, gather evidence, file paperwork, and generally build a case. However, personal injury lawsuits can be extremely complex and time-consuming. Two years sounds like a long time, but it isn’t always enough.

Variations and Exceptions

The standard two-year limitation for filing a claim isn’t the only time limit affecting Ontario injury victims. For example, victims in motor vehicle accidents must notify their accident benefits insurer within seven days that an accident as occurred; they then have just 30 days to submit an accident benefits application.

For more information about accident benefits representation, click here.

Motor vehicle accident victims also have just 120 days (three months) to notify the at-fault party or insurance provider that they intend to file a lawsuit. Doing so does not require you to pursue a claim.

Unique time limits also exist for claims against local and municipal governments. Claims against government agencies include those involving poorly maintained streets and sidewalks, icy or snowy surfaces on city property, injuries involving public transit or city maintenance vehicles, etc. In these cases, plaintiffs are required to provide written notice within 10 days of the accident. The notice must include the date, time and location of the accident, and other details.

Regarding the standard two-year limitation period, two important groups are largely exempted: minors, whose two-year limitation period begins when they turn 18, and individuals who are mentally incapable of initiating a claim.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

For more information about limitation periods in personal injury law, filing a personal injury claim, filing a claim for accident benefits, or any subject related to personal injury law, contact Will Davidson LLP to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Will Davidson LLP’s personal injury team has represented seriously injured accident victims in Ontario for over 90 years. Our expertise ranges from motor vehicle accidents to medical malpractice claims to slip and fall injuries.

Will Davidson LLP is proud to offer legal representation on a contingency basis, meaning you will not be charged hourly fees for our services. Instead, our team will accept a pre-approved percentage of your settlement at the time that it is delivered. This arrangement is beneficial for two reasons: first, it ties our payment to the success of your case; we don’t get paid unless you receive compensation. Second, it allows financial flexibility during your recovery. Serious personal injuries can have lifechanging consequences. You may no longer be able to work and may need long-term medical care, rehabilitation, and home care. You may even need to explore home renovations or long-term care options. By foregoing upfront payment, we hope to reduce financial pressure and make it possible to access the resources you and your family need.

Call today to discuss your legal options and review the viability of your claim. Our team will provide the compassionate, committed support you need during this difficult period of your life.

How Do Trial Delays Hurt Personal Injury Victims?

In October 2019, Waldock v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, which was initially a dispute between plaintiff Thomas Waldock and his insurance provider over the severity of his injuries, was resolved by an Ontario divisional court panel. Through appeals and reviews, the case was heard by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), the Director’s Delegate, and the Superior Court. It took more than 10 years from the time of his accident in March 2008 for Waldock and his personal injury lawyer to be awarded compensation – unless, of course, State Farm decides to appeal the divisional court ruling.

Unfortunately, years- and even decade-long personal injury and insurance dispute cases are no longer unusual in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, as a recent Canadian Lawyer article makes clear. In Waldock v. State Farm, the insurance provider’s decision to file numerous motions and appeals caused the bulk of the delay, but defendants aren’t always to blame.

What Causes Trial Delays?

According to the plaintiff and defence side lawyers interviewed for the Canadian Lawyer article, are a range of structural issues cause trial delays in Canada. In Alberta, parties must complete expert reports, certify that they’ve attempted alternative dispute resolution processes, and demonstrate that they’ve completed questioning before a trial date can even be scheduled.

“You’ve got about two years – on a large case – of taking all those preliminary steps and getting everything in order,” one insurance defence lawyer in Alberta told Canadian Lawyer. “And then [there’s] another two-year wait for the date itself.”

“Judges want to know you’ve done all your work and you’re very serious and you’ve been forced to think through all the issues before using judicial resources, because those are really short in Alberta,” the lawyer added.

Mandatory mediation is also an issue in Ontario, according to one personal injury lawyer. Prior to recent changes, parties in personal injury cases or insurance disputes could schedule a trial date as long as a mediation date was also set. Now, the mediation must be complete before a trial date is approved.

“That delays the whole process by a number of years. … I’m finding that very, very frustrating,” the personal injury lawyer told Canadian Lawyer. “It’s just adding another year to the process.”

In contrast, British Columbia has no restrictions on trial scheduling, meaning fewer trial delays.

“You can get a trial date right away if you want,” a personal injury defence lawyer practicing in B.C. told Canadian Lawyer. “I really haven’t had any issues with trial delays. I think we have overall a very reasonable system. Two years is a pretty reasonable time frame for trials, and we seem to get those dates relatively easily.”

Further delaying matters is the fact that criminal and family law cases take precedence over personal injury claims and insurance disputes.

The parties’ actions can also have an effect, as in Waldock v. State Farm. One civil litigator who spoke with Canadian Lawyer said civil disputes now involve more numerous and extensive reports; plaintiffs will often submit economic loss, future care, and vocational reports, while the defence side prioritizes lengthy examinations for discovery, medical examinations, and other processes.

Who is Affected by Trial Delays?

Personal injury lawyers tend to blame powerful defendants like insurance providers and the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) for trial delays. They claim that organizations with deep pockets prefer to ‘wait out’ plaintiffs with limited resources, forcing them to accept less compensation than they deserve. But most insurance providers prefer swift resolutions to legal disputes – years of litigation involving lawyers and expert witnesses is extremely costly.

Plaintiff side lawyers are also hurt by years of slow-moving litigation. When a case drags on for months or years longer than expected, clients have a tendency to second-guess their lawyer’s expertise.

“That might seem reasonable to a lawyer that’s practiced in the area of 10,20, 30 years,” one personal injury lawyer told Canadian Lawyer. “But it’s a long time for my clients that don’t understand the process. And a lot of times they’re concerned that the lawyers are dragging their heels.”

Plaintiffs are acutely affected by trial delays. Recovery from a serious personal injury can be costly, especially if the victim is unable to work. Between rehabilitation, medication, home and attendant care, home renovations, and other expenses, many injury victims struggle to keep their heads above water financially. Every trial delay, every appeal and motion, puts fair and reasonable compensation further out of reach.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident or are engaged in a dispute with your insurer, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with an Ontario personal injury lawyer. Our experienced team will assess your claim, explain your legal options, and describe what to expect from a civil claim. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Ontario is a Global Leader in Concussion Research and Prevention

Concussions are a serious problem in Ontario. Between 2008 and 2016, more than a million Ontarians were diagnosed with this common form of traumatic brain injury. Children and youth make up 40 per cent of all concussion patients in the province (totalling roughly 60,000 doctor visits per year), with children under five the most likely to be affected.

The ubiquity of these injuries has put brain injury lawyers on notice. Research suggests that even mild traumatic brain injuries can have major long-term health impacts. This is especially true when they occur in children and youths: kids with brain injuries do less well in school, are more likely to receive disability benefits as adults, and are more likely to be hospitalized with psychiatric illnesses, according to the Guardian.

Ontario is a World Leader in Concussion Research and Prevention

Over the past several years, Ontario has established itself as a national and even global leader in concussion research and prevention. In 2018, the provincial government passed Rowan’s Law, legislation named in memory high school rugby player Rowan Stringer who died after suffering multiple concussions in quick succession. The law lays out regulations for youth sports leagues and educational institutions, and provides guidelines to help coaches and teachers recognize and prevent head injuries.

More recently, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation published a new ‘living guideline’ to help reduce childhood and youth concussions. Aimed primarily at doctors but featuring sections for coaches and parents, the Living Guideline for Diagnosing and Managing Pediatric Concussion was created over three years by a group of more than 50 physicians, nurses, diagnosticians, and rehab specialists. The resource can be accessed online by users around the world.

“We want to harmonize the messages so it doesn’t matter where you are injured, people will be getting the same messages,” said Judy Gargaro, acquired brain injury program director at the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, to the Ottawa Citizen.

The foundation’s previous guideline, published in 2014, attracted users from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, and New Zealand. What sets the new version apart is its dynamism – contributors will review new concussion research and make revisions and updates at least once a month. The recent surge in interest in concussions – from brain injury lawyers, the general population, and medical professionals alike – makes this a necessary feature.

“People are much more aware of concussion,” said Dr. Roger Zemek of the CHEO Research Institute to the Citizen. “My own work has shown that visits have increased four-fold in emergency rooms and family physicians offices over 10 years.”

As the healthcare industry has come to recognize the scope of the concussion problem, treatment best practices have evolved quickly. Until recently, for example, young people who suffered concussions were generally instructed to disconnect from screens, school, social activities, and sports until their symptoms cleared up. The new guideline recommends 24 to 48 hours of rest followed by a gradual reintroduction of physical activities.


“We need to consider that locking people away from their lives and all the things that make them smile may be causing some secondary harm,” said Dr. Nick Reed, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and one of the co-project leads, to the Globe and Mail.

How Can a Brain Injury Lawyer Help?

In a perfect world, Ontario’s aggressive approach to tackling concussions will reduce their prevalence and act as a blueprint for the rest of Canada. For now, though, concussions remain a major concern for brain injury lawyers, particularly as they relate to young people. If your child has suffered a brain injury in an accident, a brain injury lawyer may be able to help your family access compensation for the damages you have suffered. Not every accident causing a concussion will be grounds to launch a personal injury claim – reach out today to discuss your options.

Contact Will Davidson LLP

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced brain injury lawyers has represented seriously injured accident victims for decades. We will happily review the specifics of your case to determine whether a personal injury claim makes sense.

Will Davidson LLP provides legal services on a contingency basis, which means you will never be asked to pay fees until your claim has been successfully resolved. In other words, rather than charging hourly fees, our team will accept a percentage of your final settlement as payment – if you do not receive a settlement, we do not get paid.

Contingency fees, along with free consultations, are part of our commitment to access to justice for all Ontarians. During our decades in practice, we have come to understand that serious personal injuries present numerous complex challenges. A long-term recovery effort takes more than a physical toll; it may also affect your mental health, family dynamics, and personal finances. Contact us today to learn more.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jonathon Fowler

Study Reveals Best and Worst Driving Cities in Ontario

InsuranceHotline.com, a website that compares auto insurance quotes, recently named the ten best and worst driving cities in Ontario based on how likely residents are to have tickets, collisions, or a combination of the two on their records. The study, which looked at quotes from 2018 and 2019, showed that drivers in high-density urban neighbourhoods are less likely to have infractions than their more rural counterparts. The results came as a surprise to insurance professionals and car accident lawyers.

Oakville is One of the Best Driving Cities in Ontario

Province-wide, 3.5 per cent of drivers admitted to having at least one at-fault crash and one ticket on their record; 6.9 per cent admitted to having at least one ticket and 8.9 per cent admitted to having been in a collision in the last ten years.

Drivers in Orangeville, Ontario, located roughly an hour northwest of Toronto, were the most likely to report at least one crash and one ticket, at 9.4 per cent. Fifteen per cent of Caledon drivers reported having at least one ticket, and 13.6 per cent of Woodstock drivers admitted being involved in a crash in the last decade.

The report assigned letter grades for each municipality based on the increased or decreased likelihood of drivers reporting an infraction. The communities of Orangeville, Bradford, Woodstock, Sault Ste. Marie, Brantford, and Orillia all received ‘D’s, while Thunder Bay, St. Thomas, Caledon, and Barrie rounded out the bottom ten with ‘C’s.

The top ten driving cities in Ontario – North York, Toronto, East York, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Brampton, Scarborough, York, Thornhill, and Oakville – are all in the GTA, to the surprise of the study’s authors.

“We were as surprised as pretty much everyone when we saw these results and really looked at the data and saw how this was shaking out,” InsuranceHotline.com senior manager of partnerships Anne Marie Thomas told Canadian Underwriter. For car accident lawyers, the finding bolsters concerns that downtown clients don’t receive good value for their insurance dollars.

Insurance Rates Don’t Reflect Study Findings

Drivers in cities like Brampton, Mississauga, and Toronto pay stubbornly high auto insurance rates which, as Ontario car accident lawyers know, have become more unreasonable given recent accident benefits cuts by the province. BramptonGuardian.com reports that Brampton residents pay an average $2,494 per year in insurance premiums, more than $1,000 above the provincial average. Mississaugans pay an average of $2,086 per year.

Auto insurance premiums are based on more than collision and infraction rates. Urban drivers may pay more due to the sheer volume of accidents downtown, or perhaps because collisions in city cores tend to be more serious than accidents on rural roads. Lower per capita collision rates also don’t necessarily mean that city dwellers drive more safely; they may simply drive less. After all, it’s more difficult for people in rural areas to get from point A to point B by transit, bicycle, or foot. Average population age could also play a role.

“It’s everything factored in together,” Thomas said in her interview with Canadian Underwriter. “It’s where you live, how you drive, how long you’ve been licenced – it’s the whole package. Saying that this one city is worse or this one city is better, for everyone, that may not necessarily be the case.”

“Maybe [the lower average premium in rural areas] speaks to the accidents not being at-fault accidents,” Thomas continued. “Maybe rates are more expensive in these cities … because of the cost to settle the claim versus somewhere in Orangeville. Maybe those drivers have had an accident, but it’s a single-vehicle accident that had a couple of thousand dollars in damage, whereas in a more congested areas, maybe the accidents are more significant and more expensive to settle.”

Flipping the Script

Regardless of insurance prices, the InsuranceHotline.com study challenges assumptions about rural vs. urban driving. It may feel safer to coast along a provincial highway than navigate multiple lanes of impatient traffic on the Don Valley Parkway, but the stats suggest rural drivers are ticketed more often and involved in more accidents than their urban peers.

Contact an Ontario Car Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident anywhere in Ontario, contact Will Davidson LLP to learn how our experienced team of car accident lawyers can help. Will Davidson LLP has been representing injured Ontarians for decades. We understand the serious physical, mental, emotional, and financial challenges that accompany serious car accident injuries, and are committed to helping our clients secure compensation for the damages they have incurred.

Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation where we will discuss the viability of your claim and explain your legal options. Will Davidson LLP is proud to work on a strict contingency basis, meaning you will not be asked to pay legal fees until your case has been successfully absolved. Reach out now to learn more.

Should Roll Bars be Mandatory on ATVs?

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents are a prevalent issue across Canada. Each year, dozens of riders die and thousands are hospitalized (more than 2,800 in 2017) in single- and multi-vehicle crashes. Despite how common these accidents have become, little is being done to improve safety on Canadian trails, much to the frustration of Ontario ATV accident lawyers.

One common sense move would be to mandate roll bars, sometimes known as crush-protection or operator-protection devices, in new vehicles. Australia is considering doing so, which has prompted manufacturers Honda and Yamaha to threaten withdrawal from the country. The effectiveness of roll bars has not been proven, the manufacturers say, and may even make accidents worse.

But other experts, including some ATV accident lawyers, disagree. ATVs’ high centre of gravity and narrow wheelbase make them inherently unstable, and their weight – between 200 and 400 kilograms – puts riders at risk of broken necks or being pinned beneath their vehicle.

“All of a sudden, you’re in a situation that you can’t correct,” said Don Voaklander, director of the University of Alberta’s Injury Prevention Centre, to CBC British Columbia. “That’s when you want a crush-protective structure to prevent that machine from rolling on you.”

David Sullivan, an Australian now living in British Columbia, manufactures roll bars for ATVs. He agrees that they save lives.

“This is absolutely a no-brainer,” he told the CBC. “It will prevent families from experiencing grief.”

However, many ATV riders and riders’ associations don’t want to be forced to drive ATVs with roll bars. They believe, correctly, that most ATV injuries and deaths are caused by human error.

“If a person rides within the limits of the machine, you shouldn’t have a problem,” said Quad Riders ATV Association of B.C. president Ralph Matthews. He believes roll bars should be “a personal choice.”

Dangerous behaviour like drinking and driving, speeding, and reckless driving cause the vast majority of serious ATV accidents. While roll bars won’t stop riders from engaging in these behaviours, they might protect them from death or serious injury when accidents occur. With riders unlikely to embrace roll bars willingly, it may be up to lawmakers and manufacturers to insist on them.

If you or a member of your family have been injured in an off-roading accident, contact Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville office to arrange a free consultation. Our team of experienced ATV accident lawyers can assess the viability of your claim and help you understand your legal options.

Should seatbelts be mandatory on school buses?

In January, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the formation of a task force to investigate the possibility of installing seatbelts on Canadian school buses. The announcement, which was cheered by safety advocates and car accident lawyers, marks a reversal of the government’s longstanding assertion that seatbelts in school buses make children less safe.

“We’re ready for this and we’re going to act as quickly as possible,” Garneau told Radio-Canada last month.

No seatbelts on school buses

The government’s anti-seatbelt policy was informed by a 1984 Transport Canada study that said seatbelts on school buses did not prevent – and may in fact cause – injuries to school children. The study was extremely influential. Its findings dictated seatbelt policies across Canada and the United States.

Why the sudden change?

More recent research produced dramatically different conclusions than the 1984 study. Today, safety experts, academics, American governmental bodies, car accident lawyers, and scientists are united in their belief that seatbelts in school buses save lives. National Safety Councils on both sides of the border have dismissed Transport Canada’s antiquated findings, as has the United States’ National Transportation Safety Board. In a 2015 speech, then-head of the US Highway Traffic Safety Administration Mark Rosekind said: “There is no question that seatbelts offer improved safety. Seatbelts [in school buses] will save the lives of children who we might otherwise lose in crashes.”

Yet it took an investigation from CBC News’s The Fifth Estate, published in October, to convince Transport Canada to change course. The investigation found that “thousands of injuries and numerous child deaths could have been prevented across Canada and in the United States in the past three decades had school buses been equipped with seatbelts.”

In December, for the first time, the ministry affirmed on its website that seatbelts “offer added protection for school-age children” when worn properly.

Next steps

The federal government can mandate that new school buses come with seatbelts, but it must work with the provinces to retrofit older buses. That’s where the task force comes in: Garneau intends to collaborate with provincial counterparts to organize and pay for upgrades.

“There are school boards that have to invest in the additional resources, so these are all things that are being looked at at the moment with the provinces,” he said.

In November, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne called for mandatory school bus seatbelts in her province, and transportation ministers in Alberta and British Columbia echoed her call last month. There is optimism among safety advocates that positive change is on the way.

“I would like them to make it a priority,” said Petra McGowan, founder of Manitoba Parents for Mandatory Seatbelts, per the CBC. “It should be thoroughly uncontroversial…. There is no question that seatbelts offer improved safety.”

Contact an experienced car accident lawyer

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

 

 

Durham Region adopts public messaging in bid to improve road safety

In Durham Region, the municipality directly east of Toronto, a motor vehicle accident occurs every 48 minutes and someone is injured in a crash every five hours. Since 2012, the region has endured a 33 per cent increase in fatal collisions, with approximately 37 per cent of those collisions linked to distracted driving. For local law enforcement and every car accident lawyer in the Greater Toronto Area, the prevalence of serious accidents in Durham is cause for concern.

In response to the region’s road safety issues, Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) has launched an expansive public messaging campaign promoting education and awareness. The program underlines the dangers of impaired driving, distracted driving, aggressive driving, and not wearing a seatbelt, the “Big Four Killers” on Ontario roads.

“We wanted something that would create more enduring change than just getting a ticket,” said Const. Shawn Finley, chair of the north Durham traffic committee, according to DurhamRegion.com. “When you get a ticket, that might alter your behaviour for a short period of time, say the time it takes you to think of what that ticket cost, but we wanted something to get people thinking about the controllable behaviours that contribute to the big four killers.”

The DRPS’s approach, which includes installing posters at LCBOs and grocery stores and distributing pamphlets, is a breath of fresh air to any Ontario car accident lawyer, many of whom have advocated for public messaging and education to be deployed alongside tough traffic laws.

“It’s important to educate the public so they understand texting and driving is killing people, it’s raising the possibility of an accident,” said Staff-Sgt. Colin Shaw of DRPS North Division. “We don’t want to wait for someone to have an accident before we deal with the fact that they were speeding, drinking and driving or texting and driving.”

In 2015, impaired driving caused 166 DRPS-investigated collisions leading to 22 injuries and four deaths. The Service laid more than 700 impaired driving charges that year, in addition to more than 2,700 distracted driving charges and around 2,500 speeding charges.

As new road safety challenges like distracted driving and marijuana legalization emerge across Canada, police services and lawmakers at all levels of government are turning to innovative public messaging campaigns in a bid to influence driver behaviour. The approach has proven effective in the decades-long fight against drunk driving; however, distracted driving fatality rates have yet to fall, and the impact of marijuana legalization on road safety remains to be seen.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive accident, contact Will Davidson LLP to speak with an experienced Oakville car accident lawyer today. Our team will provide guidance and advice as you pursue compensation for your injuries.

 

Image credit: Zachary77F/Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Birthing injuries involving forceps are on the rise in Canada

Childbirth is an unforgettable experience, but also a risky moment in a woman’s life, even in a country like Canada where doctors have access to advanced medical technology. As obstetrical malpractice lawyers can attest, medical errors or omissions during childbirth can cause injuries that have serious, long-lasting impacts on a mother or child.

A study published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that injuries during childbirth are on the rise in Canada, especially among deliveries involving forceps.  The study included almost two-million one-baby deliveries occurring in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario between 2004 and 2015.

The Mayo Clinic describes forceps as “an instrument shaped like a pair of large spoons or salad tongs.” They are used in operative vaginal deliveries where certain problems exist, such as stalled labour, heartbeat issues, or the baby facing the wrong direction. The benefits of forceps deliveries include reduced delivery times and avoiding Caesarian-section (C-section).

However, there are also risks, and the risks are growing. The authors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal study declared that their findings suggest “the safety of the procedures is declining in Canada, especially after forceps use.” In 2004, 19.4 per cent of first-time mothers suffered birthing injuries during forceps- or vacuum-assisted delivery; in 2014, 26.5 per cent did. Women with previous C-sections saw an even steeper climb, with just 17 per cent experiencing injuries in 2004 and 26 per cent experiencing them in 2014.

Trauma to babies also increased but remained relatively rare: the study reported 4.5 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2004 and 6.8 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2014.

The most common injuries to mothers were third- and fourth-degree perineal tears; babies most commonly suffered brachial plexus injuries.

Increasing injury rates have prompted doctors and obstetrical malpractice lawyers in Canada and around the world to suggest changes. In Australia, some experts have called for a ban on forceps use, while some American hospitals already prohibit it. As C-section deliveries become increasingly common – a third of babies are now delivered by C-section – young doctors will have fewer and fewer chances to become comfortable with the practice. According to the National Post, a 2007 study found that only about half of American residency program graduates felt competent using forceps.

If your family has been affected by a birthing injury involving the use of forceps, contact the obstetrical malpractice lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how we can help. Our experienced team of personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers can explain your legal options and guide you on your path to compensation and recovery.

 

Image credit: Gilberto Santa Rosa/Wikimedia Commons

Survivors of sexual assault can pursue justice through civil claims

 

When the #MeToo movement emerged in October 2017, it helped demonstrate the terrible prevalence of sexual assault and harassment in our society. The courageous individuals – most of them women – who stepped forward sparked an unprecedented wave of acknowledgement, discussion, and empathy that may create a safer society for future survivors.

Despite the movement’s remarkable impact, however, monumental progress is still desperately needed. According to Unfounded, an exhaustive Globe and Mail report on police handling of sexual assault allegations in Canada, as many as 1 in 5 sexual assault claims are dismissed as baseless. Just 34 per cent of claims lead to charges, and fewer still result in convictions. For this reason, many survivors of sexual assault have limited faith in the criminal justice system.

Today, Canadian survivors of sexual assault have options, including contacting a sexual assault lawyer and initiating a civil claim. Will Davidson LLP can help in this regard. Our team is committed to providing compassionate and discreet representation with the goal holding perpetrators responsible and securing compensation that facilitates survivors’ recoveries.

As Canadians have come to better understand the profound and lasting impacts of sexual assault, many jurisdictions have taken steps to improve survivors’ access to justice. In 2015, for example, the Ontario government pledged to eliminate time restrictions on filing lawsuits against perpetrators of sexual assault, bringing the province in line with British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

However, this represents a small step on a long road toward the creation of a more equal and compassionate justice system.

“[Dropping the limitations] is a trend across the country for sure, and Ontario is a bit behind,” University of Ottawa law professor Elizabeth Sheehy told the National Post in 2015. “But I don’t know that women are going to be flooding in to file these kinds of lawsuits. They still need to go through cross-examination, it just won’t be criminal cross-examination.”

Indeed, as every Ontario personal injury and sexual assault lawyer knows, civil cases demand significant time and energy and are subject to numerous rounds of appeals. Plaintiffs may be forced to relive and dwell on experiences that they would rather put behind them. To make matters worse, personal injury cases involving sexual assault seldom lead to large payouts, especially for clients who suffered the injury as adults. The courts must take steps to acknowledge the significant harm caused by sexual assault and adjust damages accordingly.

Despite these challenges, some survivors have benefited from pursuing civil claims. Individuals who have experienced sexual assault can seek compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for economic loss including reduced income potential, and compensation for past and future counseling and other costs. Most importantly, some clients have found closure in the successful pursuit of civil claims.

If you are a survivor of sexual harassment or assault and are interested in launching a civil lawsuit, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with an experienced sexual assault lawyer. Our team can assess the viability of your claim, advise you on the challenges you may face, and help you take important steps towards recovery.

 

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