Blog – Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers
The rest of Canada tends to sneer at Toronto’s milquetoast winters, but the past month’s wild cocktail of blizzards, freezing rain and brutal cold showed that the GTA is as susceptible to messy weather as Manitoba or Newfoundland. (Okay, maybe not as susceptible, but susceptible nonetheless.) For car accident lawyers in Toronto, the spate of storms emphasized the importance of safe driving habits during the winter months. The worst weather of the season may be behind us, but it’s not too late to review winter driving tips to help you stay safe until spring.
First things first: if your car doesn’t have winter tires, get them now. Winter tires are critical to ensuring your safety on slippery roads. While all-season tires lose traction below 7°C, winter tires improve handling and performance and can shorten braking distance by as much as 25 per cent. Plus, cars with winter tires may be eligible for insurance discounts!
You should also consider assembling a ‘survival kit’ for emergencies. Getting stranded on a snowy highway isn’t unheard of in Ontario; CBC News Toronto recommends keeping a kit in your trunk containing gloves, booster cables, a small shovel, windshield wiper fluid, a first aid kit, a flashlight, a snow brush, candles, a safety vest, water bottles, and non-perishable foods like energy bars.
Plan Your Trip
In bad weather, a little planning can mean the difference between a safe trip and a serious accident. Check the weather forecast ahead of every trip. If snow or ice are on the horizon, be sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Plan a route that you’re comfortable with – if driving the 401 in a blizzard sounds intimidating, consider taking side roads; if the forecast looks particularly foul, consider staying home.
Make sure you’ve got phone numbers for emergency services and your insurance provider handy, as well.
Winter Driving Basics
After reviewing the basics of winter driving, it is clear that steady, cautious driving is your best chance for a safe commute. Take full advantage of that extra time you planned for: drive more slowly than usual, leave more space between cars, and avoid using cruise control.
Unfortunately, sometimes even the safest drivers are involved in car accidents. If you or a member of your family has been injured on an Ontario road, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers in Toronto will assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance as you embark on your legal journey.
Each winter, slip and fall lawyers in Ontario receive a surge of consultation requests related to falls on snow and ice. While most slip and fall events are unavoidable, a small number can be attributed to municipalities’ failure to maintain safe, accessible sidewalks. In Toronto, nearly 30,000 emergency department visits and 2,800 hospitalizations were linked to winter falls between 2006 and 2015; in Ottawa, the city was sued five times for falls on sidewalks last winter alone.
Inaccessible sidewalks are a life-threatening reality for the province’s growing population of senior citizens. With every fall, seniors are at increased risk of breaking bones and experiencing concussions. They are also more likely to experience complications from these injuries.
In Ottawa, the Council on Aging – an organization that engages in advocacy, education, research and planning on behalf of the city’s seniors – has launched an initiative to improve sidewalk accessibility. The program, dubbed Snow Moles, recruits seniors to document sidewalk conditions and report findings to the city. It has received praise from slip and fall lawyers and the Ottawa’s director of roads and parking services, Luc Gagné.
There are more than 2,300 kilometres of public sidewalks in Ottawa, less than half of which are considered high-priority for clearance. Understandably, the city focuses on maintaining sidewalks in tourism and employment centres including the downtown core and the ByWard Market. It also emphasizes clearing city cycling routes and sidewalks in front of emergency facilities and commercial or retail storefronts.
However, the city has not updated its removal procedure since the early 2000s. The Council on Aging believes this should be a priority.
“I think we all want to improve the walkable situation in our area,” Catherine Read, a Snow Moles volunteer, told the CBC in January. “It used to be snow, only snow, and now it’s this freeze-thaw cycle. So the city’s got to get up to date. They say that’s their reason that they can’t do anything, but they’ve got to find ways to do something.”
Gagné conceded on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning program that service levels have not changed in well over a decade. He did not promise updates in the future.
“Back at amalgamation, they looked at the services that the 11 different municipalities had put together and harmonized them,” he said. “I can tell you that many of the former municipalities had very, very similar standards to what we currently have today. They really haven’t changed.”
While the work done by Ottawa’s Snow Moles is sure to improve sidewalk conditions, some slip and fall accidents are unavoidable. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a fall, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced slip and fall lawyers can explain your legal standing and provide guidance on your road to recovery.
Image credit: Peter Enyeart/Wikimedia Commons
In general, Canadians understand the dangers of impaired driving and approve of tough measures to prevent it. However, criminal defence and car accident lawyers worry new federal impaired driving laws may violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Is the legislation unconstitutional? And are Canadians willing to accept laws of questionable constitutionality if they reduce preventable traffic deaths?
What are the new rules?
The new legislation came into effect last December under federal Bill C-46. It authorizes Canadian police to stop cars and request breathalyzer tests without probable cause of intoxication. Refusing to comply can lead to criminal charges.
Additionally, police may request a breathalyzer test up to two hours after you have stopped driving.
Criticism and counter arguments
Critics believe Bill C-46 violates Canadians’ right to protection from arbitrary searches.
“It could be argued to be the definition of an arbitrary search,” Newfoundland defence lawyer Ellen O’Gorman told the CBC, “and that’s what we’re supposed to be secure against.”
Proponents suggest mandatory breathalyzer tests are no different than being searched at an airport or asked to hand over your licence and registration during a traffic stop.
Criminal defence lawyers also worry that law enforcement’s two-hour window to request a breathalyzer could put innocent people at risk and create a ‘reverse onus’ on defendants.
“You can imagine a situation where a husband and wife are out together. The husband drives to the bar knowing the wife will be the designated driver on the way home, and she’s not going to be consuming alcohol that night. The husband drinks alcohol and is now over the limit and has driven a vehicle within the previous two hours,” one Toronto lawyer explained to the CBC.
The Liberal government insists the two-hour window is a safeguard against risky behaviour like bolus drinking (drinking and dashing), where an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol and gets behind the wheel before it enters his bloodstream.
Arguments in favour of Bill C-46
Proponents of Bill C-46 believe the tough new stance will significantly reduce impaired driving deaths in Canada. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada believes the legislation could reduce fatalities by up to 25 per cent.
“To put it in context, that’s 200 more families who will have their loved ones around this holiday season next year,” MADD Canada CEO Andrew Currie told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning in December. “It’s probably the most significant change in legislation around impaired driving since probably the breathalyzer was brought in 1969.”
“If you look around the world, we’re way behind,” MADD Canada’s National Director of Legal Policy, Robert Solomon told CBC News Newfoundland. According to him, similar legislation has helped reduce drunk driving deaths in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden, among others.
Contact the car accident lawyers at Neinstein
If you or a member of your family have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by impaired driving, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how our team of experienced car accident lawyers can help.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada
Technology, as Ontario car accident lawyers know, affects every aspect of our lives, including road safety. Smartphones and advanced in-car entertainment systems contribute to distracted driving. Automated safety features like emergency breaking and blind spot detection protect against human error.
So, will the next wave of technology improve safety on Ontario’s roads or hinder it? If a recent pilot project in Nevada is any indication, there is reason for optimism for the province’s car accident lawyers.
The project saw several public safety agencies (the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the Nevada Highway Patrol) partner with a Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence (AI) startup, Waycare, to reduce accidents on a stretch of highway near the Las Vegas Strip.
Waycare’s AI technology processed in-car information and various traffic data to determine road conditions, reduce congestion, and alert agencies to high-risk areas. The agencies then took preventative action based on the recommendations.
The results were positive. Collisions along the focal stretch of highway fell 17 per cent during the project, and 91 per cent of drivers travelling above 65 mph reduced their speed when preventative measures were taken.
“Groundbreaking partnerships like this enable Southern Nevada to continue to lead the way in leveraging advanced technologies to dramatically improve traffic safety and efficiency,” said RTC general manager Tina Quigley, according to the National Post.
“These latest statistics coupled with the fact that we are identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with the Waycare platform helps translate what public and private partnerships can do and that AI is working to modernize and create a better transportation system for all.”
“The results of this pilot program are a clear sign that AI and deep learning, when deployed in collaboration with traffic management and enforcement agencies, can have a dramatic impact on improving the safety of even our busiest and most at-risk freeways,” added Waycare co-founder and CEO Noam Maital.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can contribute to road safety in Ontario, but technology alone won’t prevent collisions. Government buy-in, improved driver behaviours, and significant infrastructure upgrades are all necessary to reduce road deaths in our province.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of Ontario car accident lawyers can explain your legal options and provide guidance during your recovery.
Image credit: Clement Bardot/Wikimedia Commons
In the early 1990s, as part of an effort to implement no-fault insurance in Ontario, the provincial government announced a $10,000 statutory deductible on compensation for general damages incurred in motor vehicle accidents. The goal was to discourage lawsuits for minor injuries with the expectation that newly available accident benefits would make up for lost awards.
When it was introduced, many personal injury lawyers saw the deductible as an acceptable price to pay for no-fault insurance – but times have changed. A recent Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) blog post called the statutory deductible “the law that may be most frequently used to punish innocent accident victims in Ontario to the benefit of bad drivers and their insurers.”
What are General Damages?
When a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident, they have the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering. This type of compensation is referred to as general damages; in some cases, it may be the only form of compensation that the plaintiff seeks.
What is a Deductible?
From an insurance perspective, a deductible is an amount of money that policy holders must pay before the insurance provider contributes. For example: if your car incurred $1,000 worth of damage in a fender-bender and your insurance policy included a $500 deductible, the insurer would contribute just $500 toward repairs.
The statutory deductible works the same way. If you incur general damages valued at $100,000 in a motor vehicle accident, you will only receive $62,000 in compensation. Or, if your damages are calculated at less than $37,500, you risk walking away with nothing.
Please note: the statutory deductible only applies for awards of less than $126,610.07.
The Main Issue
At the heart of personal injury lawyers’ opposition to the statutory deductible is its growing imbalance with general damages awards, which have not risen in unison with the deductible, and available accident benefits, which have been significantly reduced in recent years.
“The deductible has grown considerably, while benefits are shrinking considerably, which I find very concerning,” one Ontario personal injury lawyer told Law Times in November. “While I appreciate quick access to medical benefits means better outcomes, when that amount is only $3,500 for most people, it’s not possible to get adequate treatment and set yourself on the path to recovery.”
Additionally, the Province of Ontario’s threshold test for personal injury lawsuits largely accomplishes what the statutory deductible was intended for: to limit civil action over minor injuries.
An Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you’ve been injured in an automotive accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of Toronto personal injury lawyers has been assisting seriously injured accident victims for decades, and can provide guidance and advice as you travel the road to recovery.
Thirty-three-year-old Scott McPherson may have been the first snowmobiler to lose his life in Ontario this winter, but he is unlikely to be the last. The man’s body was recovered from an Eastern Ontario lake in late November, prompting the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to release a public warning, the contents of which every Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer will find painfully familiar.
“No ice is ‘safe ice,’” the statement reads. “Underlying water currents or air pockets can create thin ice, even in the coldest temperatures. Snowmobilers can’t see this until it’s too late.”
The police service is hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2016-17 winter season, during which snowmobile-related deaths reached a ten-year high. Approximately a third of the fatalities involved breaking through shallow ice and many were linked to speeding, impairment, and other risky, avoidable behaviours.
Like every Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) understands that some of its members take unnecessary risks on the trails. Together with the OPP, the province’s primary organizing body for snowmobilers is aiming to effect change.
“Working in partnership with the OPP on snowmobile safety these past several years continues to be an effective way to promote safe snowmobiling, with the aim of reducing the number of snowmobile fatalities,” OFSC Manager of Participation and Partnership Develop said last year in a release. “While we are pleased to see many snowmobilers using OFSC trails safety and responsibly, there are still a number of them taking unnecessary chances and making bad riding choices.”
During Ontario Snowmobile Safety Week 2017, the organization published a comprehensive list of safety tips ‘for arriving home safely after each ride.’ The list advises riders to stay on open OFSC trails; only ride in good visibility conditions; maintain space between riders; use hand signals; remain on the right-hand side of the trail; never cross ice alone; and always be vigilant and prepared for accidents by carrying a survival kit and reliable communications device.
Snowmobiling is an intimate, engrossing way to experience Ontario’s unique winter landscape; by adhering to common sense safety protocols, it can also be a safe one.
If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury in a snowmobiling accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced Ontario snowmobile accident lawyer. For more than 40 years, our team of knowledgeable and understanding representatives has fought for the rights of some of the province’s most seriously injured accident victims. Call today to learn how we can help.
Image credit: Yellowstone National Park/Flickr
Catastrophically injured Ontarians face monumental challenges at the best of times: as all experienced car accident lawyers understand, serious motor vehicle accidents can result in debilitating injuries that undermine a person’s ability to enjoy life.
Unfortunately, many accident victims face significant challenges in addition to their injuries. Drastic changes to Ontario’s auto insurance system have reduced available benefits and altered catastrophic injury designations in the last five years. Now, a series of recently filed class-action lawsuits allege that 11 insurance providers have engaged in deceitful practices relating to HST on medical benefits since 2010.
The initial series of lawsuits was announced on November 1 against Intact, Aviva, Unifund Assurance, Belairdirect, Certas Direct, and Allstate. On November 20, The Co-operators, Echelon, The Commonwell, Wawanesa, and Economical were also named.
According to the Toronto Star, statements of claim for the lawsuits accuse each insurer of “preferring its own profits ahead of … the well-being of (claimants) who suffered loss or injuries” and charge the provincial government with “deliberately turning a blind eye to the wrongful conduct … in fear that (insurance companies) would in retaliation increase rates … at a time when the government of Ontario had promised a reduction in rates (and) stop providing hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to the then-governing party.”
What do the lawsuits allege?
Simply, the insurance providers are accused of deducting HST on medical goods and services from paid benefits or including HST in calculating benefit limits. Both practices are against guidelines set forth by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) which oversaw the province’s insurers until 2016.
The full scope of the scandal is not yet known: tens of thousands of people received accident benefits between 2010 and today, and seriously injured accident victims may have lost thousands of dollars in coverage. The lawsuits are seeking total damages in the neighbourhood of $1-billion.
Should the insurance providers have known better?
According to bulletins and guidelines published by the Toronto Star, the FSCO made clear that HST was to be included in benefits payments and excluded from benefits limits.
A 2010 bulletin states that “if the HST is considered by the (Canada Revenue Agency) to be applicable to any of the services or fees listed in this Guideline, then the HST is payable by an insurer.” In 2015, an FSCO guideline read: “The HST is a tax and is not part of the benefit limit set out in the SABS.”
Unfortunately, the FSCO failed to hold insurers to these standards despite calls from car accident lawyers – in June 2016, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) sent a letter to the organization regarding “an alarming practice of some Ontario insurance companies who wrongfully deduct HST from the available medical and rehabilitation limits for injured accident victims.“
“There’s been a certain amount of incredulity that it has continued,” OTLA president Ron Bohm told the Toronto Star. “It’s nickel and diming, but when you add it up they’ve really taken a lot of money out of the pocket of these people… It’s pure bottom-line profit greed.”
Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in an automotive accident or are having trouble accessing accident benefits, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ team of experienced car accident lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.
Cycling has been a largely unregulated activity in Toronto since the 1950s, when licences were done away with by mayor Nathan Phillips. Cyclists may have to follow the rules of the road, but motorists they are not. Cycling is a great way of keeping fit, beating the rush hour commute and is an easy way to get around the city.
A cyclist may not require a ‘riding licence’ or have to pass the M1, M2 and M tests in Ontario, but cycling-under-the-influence is a different matter. A cyclist must know and obey the rules of the road like any car or motorcycle driver.
Riding a bike while high
Now that the recreational use of cannabis is permitted across Canada, the question of cannabis-impaired cycling – riding a bike while high – is going to come to the fore. At present, the best corollary to cycling after having consumed marijuana is how the police treat alcohol-impaired cycling.
Cycling after having consumed alcohol is not an offence per se. However, police will stop cyclists they think are visibly intoxicated. Cues that the police rely on can be: the conduct of the rider and whether bicycle was being driven safely. On this basis, the police conduct a sobriety test. Subsequently, a fine can be issued for not obeying traffic rules. Riding a bike while high bears some resemblance to this scenario.
The effects of cannabis
Exactly what effects cannabis has and how these are to be ‘quantified’ is a subject that is undergoing rapid change. So much so, even police forces around Canada are not ad idem about what is the best test for cannabis-impairment to use on people riding a bike while high. While some tests raise questions about the right to privacy, others can falsely detect the presence of cannabis, even if it was consumed days ago.
Particularly in a car accident involving another vehicle or as a result of potholes or obstructions in the road, the amount of THC (a chemical compound in cannabis) per millilitre of blood will be a factor and can affect the outcome of an injured person’s claim.
At Neinstein we are a team of committed bicycle accident lawyers who bring passionate advocacy to cycling claims. For our lawyers, your well-being is the first priority. We are there for our clients every step of the way. Our lawyers have helped many cyclists get the bicycle accident compensation they deserve, for accidents and injuries resulting from collisions, dooring and poor infrastructure.
Image credit to Loozrboy. Flickr
Steve Cohen, executive director at Aviva Canada, told Globe and Mail, “Autonomous emergency braking has been proven to help reduce the amount of collisions leading to fewer injuries and lower claims costs”. So much so that Aviva Canada started to offer a 15% discount for vehicles equipped with autonomous emergency braking.
Automated safety system in cars, such as autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist have helped create safer roads and fewer car accidents. Despite that, the human factors play an important role in road safety. SAE International, an international body that rates vehicles on their level of automation, reiterates, despite advances in technology, “the human driver is still in charge”.
Vehicle safety is increasingly interlinked with automated safety systems. Even auto insurers assess vehicles on the basis of their automated safety systems being operational. Hence, personal injury and property damage claims raise questions about the status of the safety systems at the time of the accident. Let us look at how these automated safety systems can be compromised.
- Ignoring warning signs – Automated safety systems employ a number of means to communicate imminent danger. These can include one or more auditory, visual and force feedback signals. Their adequacy and drivers missing or choosing to ignore them can have a bearing on the claim.
- Drivers turning off safety aids – A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a North American vehicle and road safety research group, found nearly 50% of drivers turn off their lane-keeping assist systems. Safety systems such as these are often the basis on which a vehicle’s safety rating has been determined and on which the insurance company has assessed risk (often offering a sizeable discount). By turning off these safety aids, drivers increase the possibility of car accidents.
- Ill-maintained cars leading to disabled systems – Automated safety systems work off a combination of optical and infrared cameras, radar, GPS and the ECU. If these sensors stop functioning – either due to damage or debris – the protective blanket of the respective safety system can be forfeited. A safe and responsible driver will ensure the upkeep of these systems in accordance with their insurer’s stipulations and automakers requirements.
- Running systems outside of their operating window – Autonomous technologies in cars are becoming more sophisticated with every generation. However, there are limits to their operation. Whether it is snow obscuring lane markings or approaching an intersection with a plethora of markings, lane-keeping assist technologies, for instance, may become disabled by overly complicated situations. Having a safety system enabled does not absolve a driver from responsibility for the conduct of the vehicle.
At Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers we have extensive expertise investigating and pursuing claims arising out of car accidents. Whether it is a claim for personal injury or property damage caused by the negligence or misconduct of another road user, our lawyers have the experience to pursue your best options vigorously.
How common is the incidence of misdiagnosis in Canada? Pat Croskerry, an ER doctor, estimated misdiagnosis rates of ‘around 10 to 15 per cent’, as he talked toCBC in 2017. Without a formal reporting regime, is it really such a surprise to hear doctors themselves admit to a high rate of incorrect or late diagnosis?
The reality, one which misdiagnosis lawyers want to highlight, is that medical misdiagnosis is far more common than one might think. TheNational Post quotes ‘70,000 patients a year experience preventable, serious injury as a result of treatments.’ It follows on to report the experience of Helen Church, 81 years old at the time, who first received corrective hernia operation – when she did not have hernia – and later fell victim to an error by her ophthalmologist, which caused a bleed in her eye.
That it is extreme cases that get reported in the media – such as that of Helen Church, or a misdiagnosis of breast cancer that inadvertently led to a mastectomy, or a mother losing her child to an incorrect diagnosis of croup – one gets the incorrect the impression that cases of misdiagnosis are always severe and rare.
Which is why it is not uncommon for patients to not realize they have been misdiagnosed. Only when a medical error becomes blatantly obvious, or the patient discovers for themselves that the diagnosis was incorrect is there the realization that one has fallen victim to a misdiagnosis by their physician. Some of the more commonly mistaken conditions misdiagnosis lawyers see are also some of the most serious:
Cancer – Misdiagnosis in cases involving cancer are said to occur in over a quarter of all cases. This can mean either the cancer was not diagnosed, incorrectly assessed, or even diagnosed despite it not being the case.
Heart Conditions – A misdiagnosis of chest pain, an inability to adequately understand the ailment means heart conditions are some of the most commonly missed or mistaken physical conditions.
Stroke – Symptoms of strokes are missed every year in thousands of patients according to a study by Johns Hopkins. It notes, misdiagnosis is particularly prevalent in ER visitors who complain of dizziness or headaches, women and people under the age of 45.
Serious infection – A misdiagnosis of serious infection, an unfortunately common occurrence, can have significant life-changing consequences, with even death a possibility.
Medical malpractice suits in Canada must demonstrate wrongdoing by the health practitioner or facility. At Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers, we are experienced at pursuing claims and advocating suits arising out of misdiagnosis. If you or your loved ones feel you have been victims of misdiagnosis, get in touch with our experienced misdiagnosis lawyers, so we can understand your case and discuss your best options.
Organizations we support