While many Ontarians look forward to Victoria Day weekend as an official summer kick-off, it is also the beginning of trauma season; the time when getting to and from the cottage can be a killer, Toronto critical injury lawyer Dale Orlando writes on Huffington Post.
“The Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s latest statistics show that in 2010, seven people died and more than 300 were hurt in over 1,300 collisions on Ontario roads on the Victoria Day long weekend,” the article says.
“A check with the City of Toronto’s traffic safety unit confirms that in Toronto alone, more than 130 people were hurt in over 400 collisions on this holiday weekend last year.”
Orlando, partner with McLeish Orlando LLP, says impaired driving is a major issue on holiday weekends, and notes it’s worth making the time to take safety precautions. Watch Video
“If you can avoid the rush-hour cottage country drive, do so; you won’t be sharing the road with those who, no matter how many aggressive lane changes they make, will only arrive about 15 minutes ahead of everyone else who is keeping their cool,” he writes.
“And it may seem obvious, but step away from the cellphone. Put it in your briefcase or trunk and out of your hands so you won’t be tempted to check just one last email.”
When it comes to boating safety, take extra caution on the first time out, advises Orlando.
“Wear a life jacket, and while it’s obvious, leave the alcohol on the dock because it’s just as dangerous as drinking and driving,” he says.
Toronto critical injury lawyer Dale Orlando says the Victoria Day long weekend is the beginning of trauma season and has some important safety tips to avoid serious injuries.
As the spring and summer rides are starting, cyclists and ride organizers should be aware of the recently released (April 05, 2013) Ontario Superior Court case, Kempf v. Nguyen.
Madam Justice D.A. Wilson found a cyclist liable for injuries sustained by another cyclist when a crash occurred at the Becel Ride for Heart on the closed off Don Valley Parkway. The Defendant cyclist was found responsible for the crash when he made a sudden and erratic move without signaling, causing a rear approaching rider to lose control and crash. Both were experienced cyclists. In finding the Defendant liable, Justice Wilson stated,
I find that Nguyen was negligent, that his negligence consisted of making a sudden movement while riding in a group, failing to maintain a straight line, failing to signal his intention to move and moving directly into the path of the Plaintiff when he could have moved out to the right.
The case is significant since their has been few civil actions where a cyclist has been held liable for the injuries of another cyclist. As many aware, most cycling claims arise when the cyclist is struck down by a car or truck. The Court held that their is a duty to take care amoung cyclists and went on to find,
the participants … in a group ride had to ensure they did nothing to put the safety of the other riders in peril. There is an element of trust between cyclists who ride in a group because of the proximity to others and the fact that any sudden or unexpected movement can have a disastrous effect on the safety of the other rider
The Defendant cyclist had argued that there was an “inherent risk” associated with the sport and the ride and therefore there ought not to be a duty of care. In dismissing this defence, the Court stated that the fact that cycling carries with it some inherent risks does not mean the duty of care of Nguyen is negatived.
As to what standard will a cyclist be put to in regards to their fellow riders, the Court concluded,
reasonable care depends on what the participant agreed to reasonably expect given the nature of the sporting event, in a case involving cycling, there is no reason to impose a higher onus on the Plaintiff, to prove that the Defendant conducted himself in a reckless fashion. By its nature cycling is not a contact sport or one that involves physical encounters with opponents such as football or rugby
Although the injured cyclist had signed a waiver, it was held that it did not release a claim for negligence against another rider. The lawyer for the injured cyclist did not pursue any case against the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
For those ride organizers, a review of the case and the commentary regarding the waiver is essential. When dealing with the issue of the waiver, Justice Wilson noted,
The waiver is poorly drafted and confusing … While there is reference to the “participants”, the waiver does not release other participants, but rather the various organizations from claims against them, including damages occasioned by the negligence of a participant or other competitor. It clearly does not release other riders from claims arising from their negligence during the ride.
Toronto Critical Injury Lawyer John McLeish, partner with McLeish Orlando LLP, has some important advice for parents of children involved in a traumatic event.
As seen on AdvocateDaily.com:
The driver behind the wheel of a City of Toronto garbage truck that struck and killed a five-year-old girl, and injured others, may be civilly responsible to the families even if he isn’t ever formally charged, says Toronto critical injury lawyer John McLeish.
Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger was steps away from her Scarborough school Thursday afternoon when the truck struck her, the Toronto Sun reports. She was one of four children crossing the street – two others suffered injures, the report continues. Read more of this article »
As the Provincial Government grapples with a new cycling strategy, anyone engaged in the debate understands that there are no simple solutions or quick fixes. An old infrastructure designed for cars, clogged roadways with users competing for space, and a limited amount of funding make meaningful change at all levels seem next to impossible. Where do we begin? A one meter passing rule. That’s a good start, but not a long term solution. Riding paths that circle the City, although valuable do not get you safely to the store to buy bread, work or go to the local café. The implementation of bike lanes seems to be like trench warfare. Gains and losses are determined street by street, ward by ward, city by city. Exhausting, slow and for the most part disjointed.
However there is hope! It emerges from the forward thinking of our Chief Coroners’ Office. It is not based on specifics, but on how decision makers are to look at things. A new culture perhaps. Its called “Complete Streets”. Words, that to date, are not mentioned in any provincial policy statement, legislation, or standard. An approach that is growing in US. One that has been advocated for the last few years by active transportation advocates like TCAT and Cycle Toronto.
One that now has some wheels. In 2012 the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario released the Cycling Death Review. During the course of the review, various stakeholders including the Coroner’s Office, medical professionals, law enforcement, Toronto Transit Commission, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), Ontario Medical Association, City of Toronto, and various cycling and road associations participated.
Following the review the Dr. Dan Cass, Deputy Chief Coroner made his number one recommendation to be “Complete Streets”. The words were clear. “To the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing a complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario.”
Shortly after that, the Coroners office released the Pedestrian Death Review. Again, the very first recommendation was “Complete Streets”. “The complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the development of new communities and the redevelopment of existing communities in Ontario. Complete streets should be designed to be safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability, or age.”
Read more of this article »
Halloween is just around the corner and there will be a number of kids across Ontario going door-to-door trick-or-treating.
To avoid personal injuries McLeish Orlando is sharing a list of tips n’ tricks collected by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) for drivers, parents and kids to make sure safety and accident prevention is top of mind this All Hallows’ Eve.
• When pulling in or out of driveways stay alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid driving during the hours of 6-9 pm when most trick-or-treating takes place.
• Stay well below the speed limit and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
• Do not use a cell phone while driving. Driving must be your main focus as a little trick-or-treater could pop out any time.
• Pay extra attention to what is going on around you. Be conscious of sidewalks and roadways and watch for any children darting across the street or in between parked cars.
• Replace your child’s mask with makeup to make sure that they have a clear, unobstructed view of their surroundings.
• Avoid costumes that have dark colors and that will go unnoticed by drivers. Instead choose bright colors, or add reflective tape.
• Accompany your child, or if they are old enough make sure they are with a group of responsible friends.
• Instruct children to stay on sidewalks where they are available, but if they must cross, to look both ways before walking across the street. They should check for cars, trucks and motorcycles
• If your community has no sidewalks, walking beside the road at night can be very dangerous – adult accompaniment and flashlights are a must, regardless of the child’s age.
• Halloween isn’t just for the young. If attending a party with the intention to drink plan ahead, make arrangements to get a ride with a designated driver or a taxi.
• Use a flashlight so you will see and be seen more easily.
• Costumes should be short enough to avoid trips and falls.
• Remember not to eat any of your candy until an adult at home has checked them over. Don’t eat candy that has already been opened.
• Stay out of dark areas. Keep to well-lit areas and only visit homes that have their outside porch lights on. Trick-or-treaters should not go inside homes.
Sources (IBC, CAA and Safe Kids Canada)
For more information from IBC on Halloween safety tips click here
The Supreme Court of Canada has held that motorists ought to be held liable for injuries when they fail to slow down and drive carefully in areas where there is a possibility there may be children, including playgrounds, schools and built up residential areas.
In the case, Anapolis County District School Board v. Marshall, a 4 years old suffered “catastrophic” injuries when struck by a school bus. The Supreme Court upheld the trial judges direction to the jury that recited the law, as it applied to children, is as follows:
In a school or playground area or in a built up residential district, a motorist should drive more slowly and carefully and keep a lookout for the possibility of children running out into the street. Here you must decide whether the circumstances were such as to put the defendant motorist on notice that he was approaching an area where children were likely to be, and therefore should exercise greater care in the operation of his motor vehicle.
In dissenting reasons for Judgement, Justice Cromwell found that the Jury charge was in fact confusing and that the heightened standard of care when driving near children needed to be stressed even more by the trial judge.
The ruling is consistent with the recent Ontario Coroners’ Review on Pedestrian Deaths that calls for reduced speed limits in areas with children. Simply going the speed limit may not be enough. The actions of a child are clearly different than adults. When drivers are entering areas where there is a possibility of children running out, they ought to slow down and keep a keen eye out. The ruling adds to a long list of authorities that require extra care must be taken when children are involved.
The Chief Coroner for Ontario has just released the Office of the Chief Coroner’s Pedestrian Death Review.
In 2010 there had been a rash of pedestrian deaths. The review was initiated after Patrick Brown of McLeish Orlando LLP and enviromental lawyer, Albert Koehl gathered a coalition of interested groups and requested a review of cycling and pedestrian deaths within the province. Last summer, the Toronto Star posted Patrick and Albert’s request and later that fall, after several meetings, the review was launched. The purpose of the review was to examine the circumstances of the deaths that occurred from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010 and make various recommendations. The report itself was dedicated to the 95 Ontarians who lost their lives in preventable pedestrian collisions in 2010.
The review resulted in 26 recommendations covering many areas and includes:
• Reduced speed limits in residential areas and amendments to the Highway Traffic Act
• Adopting ‘Complete Streets’ aprroach to ensure the roadways are designed and maintained for all users including pedestrians and cyclists
• Installing side guards on heavy trucks
• Creating more pedestrian crossings, longer times to cross, and developing a “walking stratedgy for Ontarians”
• Educating drivers on the scenarios that can lead to a pedestrian collision
• Increasing enforcement
Read more of this article »
The Insurance Bureau of Canada and McLeish Orlando have found common ground – on the prevention of collisions. Below are the IBC’s top ten road safety tips as we near long weekend driving:
- Avoid driver distractions. Distracted drivers can be just as impaired as drunk drivers.
- Ensure proper use of seat belts, child car seats and booster seats at all times.
- Obey the rules of the road, respect posted speed limits, the rights of other drivers and drive according to road conditions.
- Understand graduated licensing restrictions. Encourage yourself to learn more about being a safe road user at every age.
- Always have a designated driver. Impaired driving is a serious danger to public safety as alcohol and drugs can reduce a driver’s reaction times and attention to the road.
- If you’re experiencing driver fatigue pull off the road to a safe spot and have a nap as driving while drowsy can be just as fatal as impaired driving.
- Be alert to the presence of all vulnerable road users and operate your vehicle safely around them.
- If you are a medically-at-risk driver, protect yourself and consistently refresh your driving knowledge.
- Share the road with trucks. Be visible and be aware of a motor carrier’s capabilities and limitations.
- Spread the word to friends and family about safer road behaviour and road safety issues. Education starts with you.
(Source: IBC, Transport Canada, Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists)