Brain injury survivor shares story to promote understanding

For some doctors, non-profit employees, personal injury lawyers, and the family and caregivers of survivors, brain injury is a daily fact of life. Yet despite it being the leading cause of death and impairment in Canadians under the age of 44, and even though roughly 1.5-million people currently live with acquired brain injuries nationwide, many Canadians don’t fully understand the challenges faced by brain injury victims.

Christie McLardie of Oshawa, Ontario, wants to change that. In August, she spoke with DurhamRegion.com about the significant struggles she has overcome during her two-year recovery from an acquired brain injury. By discussing her recovery and the challenges still to come, she hopes to inspire hope in fellow survivors and improve awareness in the wider community – an aim that is sure to be lauded by personal injury lawyers.

McLardie suffered her injury when she was struck by a line-drive during a softball game in September 2016. Not yet 40, she was professionally successful, athletic, and the mother of two children.

“I was hit on the right side of my head – I don’t remember much and a lot of traumatic brain injury people don’t remember immediate times (before the hit) – but what would have happened is that line drive was coming and I knew I wouldn’t be able to react and catch the ball so I must have turned my head and as I turned my head the line drive hit me smack in the temporal area of the right side of my brain,” she told DurhamRegion.com.

McLardie was transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto for emergency craniotomy surgery to remove shattered bone fragments, address brain bleeding, and replace a large section of skull with a titanium plate. Walking was difficult following the surgery, and she had trouble communicating due to slurred speech. However, McLardie was cognitively intact.

“I was slow, but Christie was there, I was just a lot slower,” she said.

After six weeks in and out of hospital, McLardie returned home to face a new challenge: the emotional journey that often accompanies recovery from a serious personal injury.

“You’re in shock for a long time, that shock turns to complacency and you feel like this is it,” she said. “Then you go into that anger mode, why is this happening to me, and they you go into a mourning so it’s like you morn the old self, and then after that – and this is where I’m at right now – I’m into acceptance and that journey to acceptance has taken me almost two years.”

If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury or other serious injury in an accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with our experienced team of personal injury lawyers. We can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you seek compensation.

Safer boating in Ontario starts with two simple steps

 

Residents of southern Ontario are blessed with convenient access to an extensive network of lakes and rivers that are perfectly suited to summertime boating. Unfortunately, as every Ontario boating accident lawyer knows, many of the province’s boaters fail to adhere to basic safety principles, which causes accidents, injuries, and in some cases, deaths.

In late May, CBC News Toronto reported that a 25-year-old North York woman had died in a boating accident on Lake Couchiching, near Orillia. The story broke on the second day of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week and at the onset of boating season in Ontario. The circumstances of the accident appear benign: two women were paddling a canoe just 100 metres from shore. However, neither was wearing a life-jacket, a fatal and all-too-common mistake in this province.

“[Life-jackets] will save your life,” André Mollema of the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition told CBC Ottawa. “If you fall in, even though you’re an experienced swimmer, you never know. You can knock your head on the boat on the way in, and then if you don’t have that life saving device on, you will drown.”

Transport Canada requires every boat to carry a life-jacket or flotation device for each person on board. Failure to do so can result in hundreds of dollars in fines.

An experienced Ontario boating accident lawyer can tell you that intoxication is another prevalent risk factor on Canadian waterways.

“Alcohol is a contributor in nearly 100 per cent of cases of boating fatalities in Manitoba and in 90 per cent of them they were not wearing life jackets,” Kevin Tordliffe of the Livesaving Society’s Manitoba branch told CTV Winnipeg. “These are two easy things that we can address quickly to address those statistics.”

Tordliffe is absolutely correct. Last year, boating deaths in Ontario reached an eight-year high of 31, up from 23 in 2016. CBC Ottawa reports that there have been more than 12,000 water-related deaths in Canada between 1991 and 2014, 82 per cent of which were boys and men. Reducing alcohol consumption and promoting life jacket use could go a long way in reducing those elevated numbers.

If you, a member of your family, or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with an experienced Ontario boating accident lawyer. Our team can help you assess your legal options and decide whether to launch a personal injury claim.

Winterize your pool to avoid injuries

 

After a long, warm autumn the cold weather has arrived to stay in southern Ontario, which means the time has come to winterize your pool. Backyard pools pose a variety of safety risks during the winter months, so taking the time to carefully inspect your property and establish proper safeguards will reduce your risk of accidents and hopefully eliminate any need for an Ontario personal injury lawyer.

Here are some things to consider when winterizing your pool this year.

Children

Pools are dangerous to young children during the winter and summer months. It’s important to educate your kids about the dangers pools can present: make sure they understand and adhere to general pool safety rules and ensure they are confident and capable swimmers.

Toys and accessories

At the end of the swimming season, be sure to carefully remove clutter from the poolside and place all toys and accessories in your garage or shed. Obstacles around your pool present a tripping hazard, particularly as the days become shorter and darker.

If a person suffers an injury by tripping over an item left around your pool, they may have reason to contact an Ontario personal injury lawyer. Make sure your yard is clean, clear, and safe.

Winterization

Freezing can do extensive damage to your pool. Before sub-zero temperatures reach your city, you should drain some of the water from your pool, put away your diving board or slide, and drain your filter, pump, and chemical-feeding equipment.

Once your pool is ready for winter, make sure to cordon it off to prevent pets, children, or visitors from straying too close. Remember: just because your pool isn’t full doesn’t mean that it’s safe.

Cover

A strong, sturdy winter cover is an essential piece of safety equipment, particularly for in-ground pools. Make sure your cover conceals the entire pool and ensure that it is properly secured; you don’t want it to become dislodged during a winter storm.

Each year, make sure to inspect your cover for tears or holes. These can be caused by falling tree branches, heavy snow buildups, or even jagged pieces of ice.

Contact an Ontario personal injury lawyer

If you suffer an injury relating to a residential pool, consider contacting an Ontario personal injury lawyer for advice. The seasoned professionals at Will Davidson LLP have been serving clients in Oakville and the wider GTA for years, and have experience in a wide range of personal injury and accident cases. Call us today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

 

Ontario personal injury lawyers worry Law Society policy is step towards non-lawyer ownership

In September 2012, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) formed its Alternative Business Structures (ABS) Working Group to explore alternative options to permitted law and paralegal firm structures. In general, ABS’s – which are legal in England, Wales and Australia, but not Canada – allow individuals without legal licenses to own organizations that provide legal services.

Alternative Business Structures are a controversial topic among Ontario personal injury lawyers. Their proponents argue that they could lead to innovation and wider access to legal services, while their detractors believe they increase the risk of conflicts of interest and compromised confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege agreements.

In September 2017, the LSUC’s Board of Directors approved, in principle, “a policy to permit lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services through civil society organizations (CSOs), such as charities and not-for-profit organizations,” according to the Law Society Gazette. The society stated that the policy aims to improve “access to justice for individuals who may have legal issues but who have traditionally faced barriers to receiving legal advice from a lawyer.”

The move was met with criticism by some Ontario personal injury lawyers.

“It’s just simply the first step and, two years down the road, we’re going to have full non-lawyer ownership of law firms,” one injury lawyer told Law Times’ Alex Robinson. “That’s where this is headed.”

The Working Group originally intended to table the policy in June, but delayed the decision after backlash from prominent provincial legal groups, including the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) and Federation of Ontario Law Associations (FOLA), felt unable to provide sufficient input.

Despite the criticism, the Working Group insisted that the measure would help marginalized individuals access legal aid.

“What I would say to those who take the position that one shouldn’t do a good thing because it might lead to a bad thing is that they should analyze each proposal on its own merits,” Working Group chairman Malcolm Mercer told Robinson. “It would be a shame if the profession, if it was concerned about non-lawyer ownership, would not permit charities and not-for-profits to serve needs that we all know exist.”

Whether the LSUC’s new policy eventually leads to the formation of Australian-style, publicly traded law firms remains to be seen. For now, the LSUC appears to be taking the feedback from Ontario personal injury lawyers to heart and proceeding with cautious, marginal steps along the road to ABS’s.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury, contact Will Davidson LLP’s team of experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers today to learn how we can help you on your road to recovery.

Brain injury is a Canada-wide issue

Brain injuries are an exceptionally common and unusually diverse affliction. As brain injury lawyers know, they can happen to any person of any age at any time, and vary widely in severity. The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) estimates that nearly 500,000 people in this province are currently living with a brain injury, and 18,000 new cases are added to that total every year.

A recent article from CBC News Nova Scotia highlighted both the prevalence and variety of brain injuries in Canada. It focused on Paul Marvin, who suffered successive concussions in 2010 and 2011, and was diagnosed with an acquired brain injury several years later. His biggest struggle today is with gaps in his memory.

“After the fourth time going to the bottom floor, it was so frustrating that I couldn’t remember what I was doing there,” Marvin told the CBC. “You just sort of stand there in a fog going, ‘What am I doing here?’ It was so frustrating I broke down and cried.”

Paul is one of roughly 100,000 Nova Scotians living with a brain injury, an affliction that has consumed his wife’s life as well as his own. Paige McFarlane left her job with the federal Department of Defence in order to assist her husband in day-to-day tasks. Injury victims’ family members are often forced to make significant personal sacrifices in support of their loved ones, a fact that brain injury lawyers are keenly aware of.

“I have to cue Paul, gosh, probably like three or four times an hour,” she said. “I cue him on different things depending on what’s going on throughout the day. ‘Hey honey, you’ve gotta get ready. We’ve got to get to that appointment.’ And then I have to remind him again, like, ‘Hey, c’mon downstairs and get your shoes on,’ because he has no sense of time. It’s exhausting to keep almost dragging somebody along.”

In the past, Nova Scotian politicians signaled that they understood the scope and gravity of brain injury in their province, and as recently as 2014 the provincial government had discussed the creation of a provincial brain injury strategy.

“We know we need to do more to support those with an acquired brain injury and their families,” former health minister Leo Glavine told Nova Scotia’s legislative assembly at that time. “This strategy will serve as an important road map to determine what needs to be addressed and what the outcomes we expect to see are and how we get there.”

However, plans to create a strategy to aid brain injury victims in Nova Scotia have fallen by the wayside, and the system remains roughly the same today as it was in 2014.

Brain injuries are a daily reality for families in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and around the country. If you or a loved one has suffered a blow to the head, contact Will Davidson LLP’s brain injury lawyers today to learn how our team can help you access compensation.

 

Image Credit: U.S. Army graphic

Does the Ontario Court of Appeal grant enough deference to jury decisions?

In Canadian law, jurors are understood to be an equalizing force that absorbs two sides of an argument and makes a fair, balanced decision. Judges, meanwhile, are expected to grant juries’ decisions with a high level of deference. Personal injury lawyers must communicate with juries in clear, transparent terms in order to secure the best possible outcome for their clients.

In a recent article for The Lawyer’s Daily, lawyer Patrick Brown argued that obtaining ‘high personal injury awards’ has become exceedingly difficult, thanks in part to the Ontario Court of Appeal’s unwillingness to treat juries’ decisions with due deference.

Brown cites several cases where personal injury lawyers have persuaded juries to award generous compensation, only to have the amounts whittled down in the higher courts.

In Hamilton v. Canadian National Railway Co., for instance, a jury awarded Suzanna Hamilton $115,000 for the loss of her young daughter. The Court of Appeal reduced the amount to $50,000.

In To v. Toronto Board of Education, the Court of Appeal found the jury’s award of $50,000 to be “inordinately high,” and instead granted $25,000 to an 11-year-old girl for the loss of her brother.

Finally, a jury awarded Jared Padfield, an elite volleyball player, $500,000 in 2003 for severe injuries that derailed his playing career. The trial judge reduced the amount to $274,000, and the Court of Appeal lowered it further to $150,000, stating that the amount was “outside the range of reasonableness.”

Justice Patrick Galligan, a dissenting Court of Appeal judge in Hamilton v. Canadian National, wrote: “I think that there is no better forum than a jury composed of six representatives of the community to perform the impossible task of deciding what value should be placed upon the loss to family members of the companionship. The fact that it arrived at amounts which are substantially higher than I might have awarded, or which most judges in this province might have awarded, does not indicate to me that this jury was acting unreasonably.”

In other words, Judge Galligan argued for treating the jury’s decision with deference in this case. Personal injury lawyers encounter an array of challenges when representing their clients in court, from “hired gun” testimony to scorched-earth tactics from well-financed defendants. The Appeal Court’s unwillingness to honour juries’ decisions in lower courts is yet another obstacle to compensation for injured plaintiffs.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, feel free to contact Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a consultation. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers can help you access compensation that will make your road to recovery easier.

McMaster study warns against antidepressant use

Medical malpractice lawyers ensure that Canadians are protected from the negligence of medical service providers, including pharmaceutical manufacturers. When a medication or consumer medical product causes harm, a medical malpractice lawyer may be asked to seek compensation for the injured individual.

Canadian doctors prescribe a lot of antidepressants. According to a 2013 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as much as nine per cent of the population may be prescribed antidepressants at any given time, the third highest consumption rate in the developed world behind only Iceland and Australia. In 2015 alone, more than 50 million prescriptions were filled coast to coast.

To be sure, antidepressants save lives by providing much-needed relief for people experiencing severe depression or suicidal thoughts. However, as the National Post reported in September, psychiatrists and family doctors alike “have been accused by some … of being overly liberal with the use of the mood-altering pills,” prescribing the medication to treat illnesses from mild depression to insomnia to chronic pain. If these aggressive prescribing methods were to result in injury or illness, a medical malpractice lawyer might have grounds to file a personal injury claim. Recent research from McMaster University in Hamilton suggests this scenario is fairly common.

“Most people should not be given these drugs because it looks like, at least in the general population samples, they’re doing more harm than good,” Paul Andrews, the study’s lead author and an evolutionary biologist and associate professor at McMaster, told the Post.

Andrews’ research consisted of a meta-analysis of 16 studies involving close to 380,000 people, some who used antidepressants and some who did not. The research found that antidepressant users had a 33 per cent higher risk of death and 14 per cent higher risk of stroke or heart attack than people who did not use the medication. The study controlled for the higher risk of death generally affiliated with depression.

According to the McMaster study, antidepressant use poses a risk due to the medications’ impact on platelets, small cells that exist in the body’s bloodstream to form clots and stem bleeding. Platelets rely on the chemical serotonin to function properly, and many antidepressants prevent the body’s organs from absorbing serotonin. Thus, antidepressants may act as a de facto blood thinner, making it possible “for a normal person to have increased risk of stroke, or upper GI (gastrointestinal) bleeding or other sorts of abnormal bleeding events that could be harmful or deadly,” Andrews said.

Andrews’ team isn’t alone in linking antidepressant use to negative health outcomes. In January, the Post reported on a separate study which found that antidepressants “are associated with a twofold increase in the odds of developing some forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.”

Psychiatric and psychopharmacological experts have greeted Andrews’ and other studies criticizing the use of antidepressants with measured scepticism. Some admitted that the effects of long-term antidepressant use are not yet known, while others cautioned that individual studies are not cause for alarm.

If you have experienced negative outcomes as a result of being prescribed antidepressants, contact a Will Davidson LLP medical malpractice lawyer today to set up a free consultation. Our team can determine whether you have the right to launch a lawsuit and help you on your road to recovery.

For amusement park thrill-seekers, injuries are an unfortunate possibility

As a fixture in regional fairs and large events like the Canadian National Exhibition, Ferris wheels, rollercoasters, and other amusement park rides are a common scene across Canada and the United States during the summer months. These rides are, in general, a perfectly safe source of old-fashioned fun, but a small malfunction or instance of negligence can render them extremely dangerous. In fact, personal injury lawyers are hired each year to represent victims of amusement park ride accidents.

On July 16, a ride called the Fire Ball broke apart while in operation at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. Seven people were injured in the accident, and one teen boy lost his life. Organizers insisted that the ride had passed all required inspections.

The Fire Ball incident is not isolated: four people were killed in an accident at Australia’s Dreamworld amusement park in October 2016; last August, one boy was killed and three girls were injured in separate events in Kansas and Tennessee which occurred on the same day.

Even Canada is not immune: in 1986, a roller coaster crash at the West Edmonton Mall resulted in three deaths, and in 1998 a 21-year-old died when he was flung from a ‘reverse bungee’ ride at the Central Canadian Exhibition in Ottawa.

Experienced personal injury lawyers will tell you that amusement park accidents can be extremely serious. In 2013, for instance, 16-year-old Adam Martens suffered severe spinal injuries and was left quadriplegic after an accident at the Red River Exhibition in Winnipeg. What recourse do injury victims have in these situations? Martens sued the Ex and North American Midway Entertainment for damages.

Amusement park injury lawsuits

Amusement park injury lawsuits generally focus on either negligence or product liability. Negligence in this scenario can take many forms, including failing to post clear and visible warning signs; posting signs that don’t adequately describe the risks posed by the ride; failing to properly instruct riders; failing to train ride operators; failing to regularly inspect the ride; and improperly operating the ride.

In cases where the ride owners or operators have done nothing wrong, the manufacturer of the ride may be at fault. For instance, if a roller coaster’s safety bar becomes unsecured and a rider falls from their seat, the manufacturer of the ride – or the of safety bar – could be liable for the victim’s injuries.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury at an amusement park, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to learn how we can help. Our team has represented injured Ontarians in a wide variety of personal injury cases and would be happy to help you understand your rights and pursue compensation.

Safety tips for the new ATV season

This April, the CBC reported on the death of a four-year-old girl in Marchand, Manitoba who was killed when the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) she was riding flipped backward while climbing a hill. These sorts of incidents are all too common: ATVs are an extremely popular pastime in Canada, but also a fairly dangerous one. According to the Canada Safety Council, about 182 people lose their lives in off-road vehicle accidents each year, meaning ATV injury lawyers are sadly familiar with stories like the one out of Manitoba.

Luckily, there are a number of easy precautions you can take to stay safe on the trails this spring and summer. Let’s have a look at a few:

Basics

To begin with, most ATVs in Ontario must be registered and have rear license plates (exceptions exist in a few Northern regions), and must be insured. These measures promote accountability and provide coverage to injured ATVers.

ATV-riders should also abide by their vehicle’s specifications: in particular, two people should not ride a one-person vehicle, and three people should not ride a two-person vehicle. Doing so can greatly increase your risk of injury.

Age restrictions

ATV age restrictions are fairly flexible, though as this April’s Manitoba tragedy shows – and as all ATV injury lawyers would agree – very young children on ATVs are inherently at risk.

Children younger than 12 are permitted to ride child-specific ATVs, but only off-road and only under direct adult supervision. Older children are allowed to ride adult ATVs, but only while an adult is present.

To share a road with other automobiles, ATVers must be at least 16 years old and have a G2 or M2 driver’s license. In both on-road and off-road scenarios, an approved helmet is required.

Driving on shared roads

Both car accident and ATV injury lawyers understand the correlation between speed and injury. Because they lack other vehicles’ fundamental safety precautions, ATVs are subject to restricted speed limits. For instance, if a road’s posted speed limit is less than 50km/h, an ATV must travel no faster than 20km/h; if the posted speed limit exceeds 50km/h, an ATV must not travel more than 50km/h.

General tips

Do not drink and ATV! This rule needs no explanation; alcohol consumption dramatically increases your risk of serious injury or death.

ATVers should also be sure to plan their routes ahead of time and communicate those plans to a family member or friend. Regularly checking in via cell phone can also help you be found in the case of an accident.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an ATV accident, contact the ATV injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP to find out how we can help you access compensation and aid your recovery. Call today to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.

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