Who is responsible for damages caused by a borrowed car?

As summer approaches, Toronto residents are bracing for an annual influx of tourists; last year, the city welcomed a record number of visitors. While those of us living in GTA cities like Oakville won’t experience the summer rush as acutely as our downtown neighbours, many of us will be visited by friends and family intent on exploring the region – and that means lending out your car.

If you’re thinking about letting a friend or family member borrow your car this summer, there are a few things your GTA car accident lawyer would like you to consider.

Liability

The owner of a car is nearly always responsible for damages caused by that vehicle, including when it is driven by someone else. Even in situations where the borrower has their own insurance policy, the primary policy is likely to be that of the vehicle’s owner.

“When you lend your auto, you also share your auto insurance,” writes the Insurance Bureau of Canada on its website. “Typically, a guest driver is also covered under your policy. Should the guest driver cause a collision while driving your vehicle, your premium may increase.”

That means that collisions or accidents caused by the driver of your borrowed car could result in increased insurance rates or liability payments. A GTA car accident lawyer can help you assess your level of responsibility.

With that in mind, there are a few precautions you should take before you lend anyone your car.

  • Look up the number of an experienced GTA car accident lawyer and have it on file – when an accident occurs, it’s important to consult with a lawyer as quickly as possible.
  • Make sure the borrower has a valid driver’s license. This might seem obvious, but if you lend your car out to an unlicensed driver, you will likely by on the hook for damage or injuries they cause.
  • Ensure the borrower has access to the vehicle’s registration and proof of insurance.
  • Determine where the car is going and agree upon how the car will be used.
  • Make sure you know exactly who will be driving your car – if you lend it to a group, single out a designated driver.
  • Ensure the car is in good working order. Signals, brake lights, and other functions should be running smoothly.

Contact a GTA car accident lawyer

If your vehicle has been involved in an accident or if you have been hurt in a collision, contact a GTA car accident lawyer at Will Davidson LLP to set up a no-obligation consultation. Accidents involving borrowed cars can lead to complicated liability and benefits claims, and our team of experienced lawyers can help you through the legal process.

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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Ins-and-outs of e-bikes

The Regulation of E-bikes in Ontario

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

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

e-bike
An E-bike

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

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

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

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

 

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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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When the Doctor Gets it Wrong: Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice

Medical Misdiagnosis

Doctors are human and mistakes can happen. There are times when these mistakes, despite being perhaps detrimental to the patient, would not result in a successful medical malpractice case. However, the malpractice of a doctor and/or hospital can be brought to the courts, so the patient can receive compensation, when the doctor or hospital has been negligent.  An interesting area in medical malpractice law is when there is a lack of diagnosis, an incorrect diagnosis or a failure to relay a diagnosis. If these issues are as a result of a doctor’s negligent behavior, a medical practice claim may be brought against them.

gavel and stethoscopeA leading case on this area of medical malpractice and doctor negligence is that of Lawson v. Laferrière, where a woman had a biopsy in 1971, which revealed she had cancer. She was never told this and it was not until 1975 that she realized she had cancer. The court found that this failure to diagnose the patient did not ultimately cause her death in 1978, but they still awarded damages to the Plaintiff side for the psychological stress she must have felt by wondering what would have happened if she had been diagnosed in 1971  ̶̶  the “what if” type of questions. Even with an absence of trauma, a patient can still recover damages in a medical malpractice case for misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis if mental distress exists (Anderson v. Wilson).

An American case that was recently in the California courts also delved into the topic of doctors’ and hospitals’ negligence and medical malpractice claims for problems surrounding the diagnoses of a patient. In this case, Myrick v. Hansa, a young man of 19 years old was brought to the hospital after being unable to sit or speak at work. There was a possible stroke diagnosis, but despite this more examinations were not completed and a doctor did not even see the young man until the following morning. It was not until the next day, when his condition deteriorated, that he was diagnosed as having an ischemic stroke resulting in significant brain damage. The hospital, emergency room physician were diagnosed for failing to diagnose and thus treat his impending stroke. After some settlements, the medical malpractice case against one of the defendants went to trial and the jury awarded 36.61 million to the young man.

 It is not just a wrong cut in a surgery or a bad cast-job that can result in doctor’s negligence. Misdiagnosis, as seen above, can also bear with it extremely detrimental consequences. Even if a condition did not worsen because of a misdiagnosis or lack of diagnosis, one may still be able to recover compensation from the doctor or hospital in a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one has sustained personal injury due to the actions of a hospital or doctor, do not hesitate to contact us 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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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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