Blog – Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers
The federal government’s bid to enact strict new impaired driving rules alongside its marijuana legalization bill hit a major snag last month when the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee voted to remove a key provision in the legislation. The move divided lawmakers, legal experts, road safety advocates, and Ontario personal injury lawyers.
Bill C-46 was introduced as a companion to Bill C-45, the bill to legalize the use of recreational marijuana in Canada. In addition to addressing issues around marijuana-impaired driving, Bill C-46 proposes allowing police officers to conduct random roadside breathalyzer tests without probable suspicion of impairment.
The provision is controversial, as Ontario personal injury lawyers can understand. Some legal experts believe it violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and “would lead to a decade of Charter challenge litigation,” according to Sen. Denise Batters, who proposed eliminating the provision. Activists have also suggested it would enable police to unfairly target minority communities.
Supporters of the bill see it as essential to ensuring safety on Canadian roads following the legalization of recreational cannabis. According to the National Post, more than 40 countries have enacted random roadside testing programs and experienced reductions in impaired driving fatalities of up to 36 per cent. When Conservative MP Steven Blaney proposed similar legislation in 2016, it received near-unanimous support in the House of Commons and praise from Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Many personal injury lawyers in Ontario believe the policy could significantly improve road safety in the province.
Some of the bill’s supporters believe that politics, not constitutional concerns, inspired the committee’s decision. The Conservative Party of Canada has emphatically opposed the Liberals’ efforts to legalize marijuana, and it was Conservative senators who spearheaded the committee’s vote. Indeed, Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais, who voted to eliminate the roadside testing provision, was an early and vocal proponent of Steven Blaney’s bill just two years ago.
“It appears as though obstruction of the policy agenda of the government of Canada is of higher priority than consistency of policy position,” said Sen. Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Senate.
“This is shocking,” added MADD CEO Andrew Murie, according to the Post. “You kind of wonder if this is based on what they say is legal concerns or is this politics being played out?”
After much debate, the Senate voted in June not to reinstate mandatory roadside testing. The amended bill will now move to the House of Commons, where it will likely be rejected and returned to the Senate. This cumbersome process may delay the bill’s passage, meaning Bill C-45 could be passed without accompanying impaired driving legislation, which puts road users at risk.
If you’ve been injured in an impaired driving accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ team of Ontario personal injury lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you understand your legal situation and provide guidance as you pursue fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries.
Almost every Toronto personal injury lawyer has, at some point, fielded an inquiry relating to a vulnerable road user being struck by a vehicle. In Canada’s biggest city, cyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicles all share limited space on the roads. As the city has grown, this arrangement has led to tensions and, unfortunately, a rising number of serious injuries and fatalities.
City planners, local politicians, and victims’ advocates have all proposed solutions to Toronto’s road safety woes, including increased funding for public transit programs, infrastructure updates, harsher penalties for dangerous driving, and stricter enforcement of existing traffic laws. Several months ago, Liberal MPP Yvan Baker even proposed the “Phones Down, Heads Up Act,” a so-called ‘zombie law’ targeting pedestrians who use their smartphones in crosswalks.
The Phones Down, Heads Up Act was an outlier; safety measures designed to protect vulnerable road users rarely target pedestrian behaviours. But in a recent Toronto Star editorial, contributor Royson James suggested that maybe they should.
Pedestrians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) “exhibit a wanton disregard and disrespect of the car as a killing machine,” Royson writes. He posits that a healthy fear of automobiles and a sense of responsibility for one’s own safety would contribute to a decrease in pedestrian injuries in Toronto.
“Narrow sidewalks. Poor street design. Lack of safe cycling space. Insufficient speed controls. Inattentive drivers. These are some of the frequently cited reasons for the carnage on our streets when pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles converge,” Royson says. “We should loudly, boldly resolutely address another, less politically correct reason – the culture of pedestrian disrespect of the car as an agent of danger and death.”
However, in a separate Star editorial, Edward Keenan points out that the stats don’t back up claims that pedestrians are ultimately to blame for their injuries. He cites a May 2018 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an American organization, that found that problematic road design and an increase in large passenger vehicles were primarily to blame for spiking pedestrian fatalities in that country.
If you were to ask a Toronto personal injury lawyer, they might tell you that the best solution to surging pedestrian fatalities is a mix of infrastructure updates, changes to the rules of the road, and public messaging campaigns that promote awareness among pedestrians. Blaming vulnerable road users for the dangers they face may be irresponsible, but asking them to take reasonable precautions is not.
If you have been injured in a road accident in Toronto, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Toronto personal injury lawyer. Our team can help you understand your legal options and put you in touch with leading medical and rehabilitative care providers. At Neinstein, your recovery comes first.
The perils of driving in busy city centres are well known to car accident lawyers – traffic congestion, distraction, intoxication, and the intermingling of multiple types of road users create a slew of potential dangers.
However, driving on rural routes poses its own risks, including speeding, careless driving by locals who know the area like the back of their hands, a lack of traffic signs and lighting infrastructure, and small roads struggling to accommodate increasing traffic.
According to a recent report from the St. Catherines Standard, speeding is an especially common risk factor. The article references numerous serious injuries and fatalities along ‘accident alleys’ in southern Ontario with direct links to excess speed.
Niagara Region is acting to address the issue. In the Hamlet of Caistor Centre, it added digital “Slow Dow” signs that show drivers’ speeds along Regional Road 65. New lighting is likely to be added along Moyer Road outside the City of Welland. And a four-way stop sign has been approved for the intersection of Four Mile Creek Road and Line 3 Road near Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Other municipalities are lobbying the region for similar changes. In West Lincoln, Mayor Doug Joyner is advocating for four-way stops where Regional Road 65 intersects with Port Davidson Road and Regional Road 14.
“For years I have been saying I want a four-way stop at both those intersections because of the high fatality rate,” Mayor Joyner told the Standard. “The Region says that four-way stops aren’t the answer…. There will be confusion about who has to stop and who doesn’t; but, at the end of the day, a four-way stop sign is the best solution. You have to stop. You have to follow the Highway Traffic Act.”
Niagara Regional Police, like car accident lawyers, are aware of the dangers posed by rural speeders and have launched targeted enforcement operations along routes they know to be problematic. However, it will take a combination of awareness, infrastructure changes, and law enforcement to create meaningful behavioural change.
The City of Toronto, facing another year of elevated fatality numbers among vulnerable road users, is currently ground zero for road safety advocacy in Ontario. Significant changes are undoubtedly needed in the provincial capital, but governments also have an opportunity to implement modest changes that have meaningful impacts on the safety of rural drivers. Four-way stop signs along country roads are the perfect example.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident in rural Ontario, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of car accident lawyers can help you access the compensation you need to fund your recovery.
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On May 11, the Supreme Court of Canada found Chad Rankin, the owner of a garage in the Southwestern Ontario town of Paisley, not liable for injuries sustained in an accident involving a stolen vehicle. The finding – which attracted the attention of more than one curious car accident and personal injury lawyer – overturned an earlier Ontario Court of Appeal decision.
The case centered on an event that occurred in July 2006. Late one night, two teenagers illegally entered Mr. Rankin’s property. Both had been drinking alcohol, some of which was provided by one of the teens’ mothers, and both had smoked marijuana. The intoxicated teens decided to steal a car and drive to nearby Walkerton, Ontario. They discovered a vehicle with an unlocked door and found the keys in the ashtray.
Tragically, the teens crashed en route to Walkerton. The passenger in the vehicle suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
The victim’s litigation guardian, with the help of a personal injury lawyer, sought compensation from the driver of the vehicle, the driver’s mother, and Mr. Rankin.
At trial, the court ruled that Mr. Rankin should have realized his garage was vulnerable to theft. He was found 37 per cent liable for the teen’s injuries; the driver of the vehicle was found 23 per cent liable, the driver’s mother 30 per cent liable, and the injured teen 10 per cent liable. This ruling was upheld at the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court disagreed in a 7-2 split decision. While the majority agreed that Mr. Rankin should have understood the risk of theft, they also found that “the fact that something is possible does not mean that it is reasonably foreseeable.”
“It does not automatically flow from evidence of the risk of theft in general that a garage owner should have considered the risk of physical injury,” wrote Justice Andromache Karakatsanis on behalf of the majority. “I do not accept that anyone that leaves a vehicle unlocked with the keys in it should always reasonably anticipate that someone could be injured if the vehicle were stolen. This would extend tort liability too far.”
The dissenting justices found no ‘overriding error in the lower court findings,’ and thus chose not to overturn the decision, according to the National Post.
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If you have been injured in a car accident, contact a personal injury lawyer from Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help. Our experienced, understanding team can guide you along your road to recovery.
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An updated report suggests that insurance companies have overcharged Ontario motorists for auto insurance by billions of dollars since 2011. For every Ontario car accident lawyer, the report is a sad reminder of the difficulties facing the province’s injury victims.
The report was commissioned by the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) and authored by Fred Lazar, an economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. He estimates that between 2011 and 2016, insurers’ profits rose 60 per cent.
“Given the levels of excessive profitability, consumers almost certainly have paid too much for their insurance coverage,” the report reads.
“I estimate that in the last five years alone, overpayments may have totaled $5 billion,” Lazar added in an OTLA release. “This represents 9.5 per cent of total premiums paid during the same amount of time.”
It also represents annual overpayments of about $143 for each insurance policy in Ontario.
Claire Wilkinson, OTLA’s President, called the results of the report “just another example of how Ontario’s auto insurance system is in need of a complete rethink,” in the release.
“It underscores the extent to which our system is completely dysfunctional,” she added.
OTLA is calling for the insurance industry to be more transparent when reporting profits, a suggestion that any Ontario car accident lawyer would support.
“By increasing transparency and reporting the government and consumers would have a better understanding of just how much profit is currently enjoyed by auto insurance companies in Ontario,” said President-Elect Rob Bohm. “These are the first steps in restoring balance to ensure justice for accident victims and fairness for drivers.”
The political response to the report has also been emphatic. During question period at Queen’s Park, NDP MPP Wayne Gates asked: “why did the premier deliver a 60 per cent increase in the profits to insurance companies, instead of delivering 15 per cent in savings for Ontario families?”
Finance Minister Charles Sousa acknowledged the “alarming costs” Ontarians faced in relation to auto insurance, and pledged to “increase consumer protection, combat fraud and ensure those injured in an accident get the care they need when they need it,” CTV News reports.
However, members of the insurance industry refuted the report’s findings.
“OTLA falsely claims insurers are making excessive profits. Let me be clear – this is not true,” Steve Kee, a spokesperson of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, told Canadian Underwriter. “GISA [the General Insurance Statistical Agency], the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), and the government’s independent auto insurance expert David Marshall have all reviewed insurer operations and agree that profits are not significant.”
One thing all stakeholders can agree upon is the need for change within Ontario’s auto insurance system. Ontario’s motorists pay some of Canada’s highest premiums despite nation-leading motor vehicle collision rates, and government initiatives to improve the situation have reduced benefits without reducing costs.
If you or a member of your family have been injured in an automotive collision, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced Ontario car accident lawyer. Our team can start you on your path to recovery.
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In the near future, Ontario’s drivers will share the road with autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Their presence will present new challenges for personal injury lawyers: Who is to blame for collisions involving autonomous vehicles? From whom can injury victims pursue compensation in civil court?
The auto insurance industry is confronting similar questions:
“We all know the automated vehicle revolution is coming with major ramifications for auto insurance,” said David McGown, the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s (IBC) senior vice president of strategic initiatives at an April event. “In the new paradigm, product failure rather than human error will become the key factor for liability coverage. And we must prepare for a messy transition during a time when fully automated vehicles will share the road with less automated ones.”
In order to address potential complications arising from collisions involving autonomous vehicles, Canadian insurers are developing a framework to ensure claims can be processed quickly and efficiently, Canadian Underwriter reports. Members of the industry say their share a common goal with personal injury lawyers: to ensure that injured Canadians have timely access to the compensation they need.
“Product liability claims are more complex and take longer to settle than typical vehicle collisions liability claims,” IBC director of policy Ryan Stein told Canadian Underwriter. “Do you want a person who is injured in a collision caused by an automated vehicle to go through a protracted period of uncertainty during the claims process?”
The framework is modeled in part after the United Kingdom’s Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which stipulates that injury victims be compensated by their insurance provider for damages caused by faulty autonomous vehicle technology. The insurer may then seek liability payments from the manufacturer of the vehicle, effectively removing from the injury victim the burden of pursuing a product liability claim.
Once autonomous vehicles make up the majority of vehicles on the road, it is reasonable to assume that accident rates will fall significantly. Until that time, however, drivers, insurers, and personal injury lawyers will have to navigate a murky transitional period that places AI and human drivers alongside each other on Canadian roads, an arrangement that will surely lead to complex, precedent-setting legal disputes.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team can help you understand your legal situation, assess the validity of your claim, and guide you on your first steps toward recovery.
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In a recent decision, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck a damaging blow to the province’s Consumer Protection Act. The three-judge panel ruled in favour of the defendant in Schnarr v. Blue Mountain Resorts Limited, a case involving two skiers who were injured after signing liability waivers. Personal injury lawyers have criticized the decision.
At question in the case was whether provisions included in Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA) trumped provisions in the more recent Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
The decision, which personal injury lawyers believe will have implications across the province, essentially affirms that liability waivers are valid and that they are an effective defence against these types of civil actions.
“Waivers are designed to explain the risk to the participant and insulate to some degree the facility from being sued because you can’t have a recreational facility being sued every time everybody gets injured,” a defence lawyer told Law Times.
Under the OLA, which was adopted in 1980, occupiers – in this case Blue Mountain Resorts – have the right to obtain waivers that exempt them from injury liability from individuals who use their premises. The act stipulates that occupiers’ duty of care is suspended in respect of “risks willingly assumed by the person who enters on the premises.”
When the CPA came into force in 2002, it was intended to bolster protections for consumers in the Province of Ontario. It states that suppliers must provide a warranty of quality of service which cannot be waived; the Court of Appeal’s decision weakens this provision.
“The OLA permits an occupier to obtain a waiver of liability,” wrote Justice Ian Nordheimer on behalf of the panel. “The CPA precludes a supplier from obtaining a waiver of liability. In other words, what the OLA permits, the CPA prohibits.”
Justice Nordheimer goes on to write that it would be “absurd” if businesses were held liable for “something that they though they had lawfully protected themselves against.”
It is not known whether the plaintiffs will take their case to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, personal injury lawyers will have to operate under more limited consumer protection laws.
If you, a friend, or a member of your family have been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team can help you understand your legal position, assess the viability of your claim, and guide you on your road to recovery.
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As we discussed recently, and as most car accident lawyers in Ontario are aware, 2017 was a deadly year on the province’s roads. Statistics released by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) indicated significant increases in fatal traffic collisions, particularly those involving transport trucks and motorcycles.
In a statement, the OPP blamed dangerous driver behaviours for the spike in serious accidents, noting that fatal crashes involving distracted driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt had all increased year-over-year. Human error undoubtedly contributes to many accidents, but as car accident lawyers understand, other factors, like poor road design, can come into play. In some instances where poor road design contributes to an injury, the Province of Ontario may be held liable.
Highway 3 in Essex County, Ontario, connects some of Canada’s southernmost municipalities, including Windsor and Leamington. Between 1993 and 2015, a five-kilometre, two-lane stretch of the road has been the site of 11 fatal car accidents, according to the CBC. Local community members, including NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, have been lobbying the province to widen the deadly stretch for years.
“If [the Liberals] really wanted to do it, they would have done it six years ago, eight years ago, 20 years ago,” Natyshak told the CBC. “There’s no project more shovel-ready in the province of Ontario than the expansion and third phase of Highway 3.”
An environmental study of the project was completed in 2006, and design work is well underway, but the project remains in queue for the Southern Highways Program for Planning for the Future, meaning construction won’t begin for at least five years.
In an effort to exert pressure on the province, some survivors of Highway 3 accidents are considering legal action. The risks associated with the stretch of the road are irrefutable, and victims believe the province’s unwillingness to make safety improvements makes it liable for their injuries. If the roadway had been widened, they say, the accidents could have been avoided or, at the very less, might have been less severe.
In an email to the CBC, Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry promised that the Liberal government remains “committed to widening the remaining two-lane section of Highway 3 between Leamington and Windsor.” Community members are unlikely to be encouraged by the vow, considering the province’s history of inaction on the issue.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive accident in Ontario, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help you access compensation for your injuries.
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On April 9, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released 2017 traffic data which showed a “dramatic increase” in fatalities from traffic, boating, and snowmobile accidents. Any Ontario personal injury lawyer that represents traffic injury victims understands the potentially devastating impacts of these types of accidents.
The OPP responded to 68,794 traffic collisions resulting in 343 fatalities in 2017; in 2016, 307 people died in 67,450 crashes. Disappointingly, the OPP saw an increase in three of what it calls the ‘Big Four’ causal factors: inattention while driving, excessive speed, not wearing a seatbelt, and alcohol or drug impairment. Twenty-one more deaths were attributed to excessive speed in 2017 than 2016, and 19 more were attributed to inattention. One less death was attributed to drug or alcohol impairment.
Transport trucks were involved in 76 collisions resulting in 91 deaths last year, a ten-year high. Of those 91 fatalities, just 18 were occupants of the trucks, while 76 were in another vehicle and four were pedestrians.
Fatalities among motorcyclists, snowmobilers, and boaters also hit unfortunate peaks last year. Forty-eight motorcyclists were killed on Ontario’s roads, including 27 who were not at fault; both numbers mark ten-year highs.
Twenty-nine snowmobilers died in crashes, the most ever recorded in Ontario. Excessive speed and driver inattention were common factors in these accidents, just as they were in road collisions.
Marine fatalities hit an eight-year high of 31 last year, with many deaths caused by falling overboard while not wearing a life jacket.
Twenty-two people were killed in off-road vehicle accidents, the same number as in 2016.
Somewhat surprisingly given the current state of road safety in the provincial capital, fewer pedestrians were killed on Ontario’s road in 2017 (27) than in 2016 (39).
Not released by the OPP were the number of individuals seriously injured in road, off-road, and boating accidents in 2017. These individuals can seek compensation with the help of an Ontario personal injury lawyer.
“The OPP is saddened and disappointed to see 2017 mark one of the worst years in recent history for fatalities on and off the road,” OPP Commissioner J.V.N. Hawkes said in the release. “As is the case every year, the majority of these deaths were preventable and attributed to poor driving behaviours. Until all drivers respect and observe road, off-road and marine laws that are designed to keep us all safe, these tragic deaths will continue.”
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer. Our team can assess the validity of your claim and help you on your road to recovery.
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Marijuana legalization is a pressing and contentious issue in Canada. From an injury lawyer’s perspective, there are obvious concerns about the impacts of legal cannabis on road safety. We’ve discussed the risks associated with driving while high before, and touched on the complications surrounding accurate and reliable road-side testing.
But legalization isn’t a one-dimensional issue, even for a car accident or personal injury lawyer. Take, for example the many challenges faced by injury victims who suffer from chronic pain. As we’ve written, chronic pain patients are often misunderstood by juries and face an uphill path to compensation. To make matters worse, aggressive prescribing methods have made them disproportionately at risk of falling victim to North America’s opioid epidemic.
Canada is currently the second-largest per capita prescriber of opioid painkillers in the world, and the rate at which these powerful pills are distributed has contributed to a national health emergency. Last year, Canada set a new national record for the number of deaths linked to opioids, with those occurring between January and September surpassing the total number from 2016.
Legal marijuana could be part of the solution. Two American studies published in early April in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine linked the availability of medical and recreational marijuana with lower rates of opioid prescription.
One study, led by University of Georgia researchers Ashley Bradford, David Bradford, and Amanda Abraham, showed that states with medical marijuana laws filled 8.5 per cent fewer daily opioid doses than states without. The gap was even larger – 14.4 per cent – in states with medical marijuana dispensaries.
The second study, written by the University of Kentucky’s Hefei Wen and Emory University’s Jason Hockenberry, linked the passage of medical marijuana laws with a 5.88 per cent reduction in opioid prescription rates, and the passage of recreational marijuana laws with 6.38 per cent reduction.
“Marijuana liberalization may serve as a component of a comprehensive package to tackle the opioid epidemic,” the research duo wrote.
Former British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake, who is now the vice-president of a marijuana company, recently told Global News that legal marijuana can contribute to easing the opioid epidemic in Canada.
“I’m not saying it’s the answer to the opioid crisis,” Lake said. “I’m saying it’s one of the options we should explore. It’s very promising and deserving of further research.”
With Canada’s tentative date to legalize recreational marijuana just months away, experts of all stripes continue to dispute the potential benefits and harms to society. While road safety worries are absolutely legitimate, the loosening of marijuana laws could be a blessing for injury victims suffering from chronic pain.
If you or a member of your family has suffered from a serious injury, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a no-obligation consultation with an experienced and understanding injury lawyer. We can help you understand the validity of your claim and guide you on your path to recovery.
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