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Ottawa traffic fatalities hit seven-year high

Ottawa traffic fatalities hit seven-year high

Ontario car accident lawyers have been so preoccupied with vulnerable road user deaths in Toronto that another major road safety story has flown under the radar: traffic fatalities in Ottawa increased 23 per cent in 2017 to reach a seven-year high.

The nation’s capital reported 32 traffic-related deaths last year, up from 26 in 2016 and the most since 38 people died in 2010. Twenty-four of the 32 deaths were drivers or passengers in automobiles, five were pedestrians, and three were motorcyclists. The city recorded no cycling fatalities in 2017.

The Ottawa Police Service has not identified a definitive cause for the increase but believe distracted driving and an influx of new vehicles were contributors. They have stated that road safety is a priority.

“Every few years, when we have a public survey, road safety is always one of the top concerns from the public, so we want to make sure that we’re participating and addressing those concerns as best we can through enforcement, through collaborating with our safety partners and just improve the safety on the roads in Ottawa,” Staff Sgt. Frank D’Aoust told Global News.

The city has embarked on a number of road safety initiatives, including increased enforcement of existing impaired and distracted driving rules, identifying problematic intersections, and working with the engineering unit to build solutions. D’Aoust also told Global that motorists must accept responsibility.

“Drivers have to start paying attention to what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s going to take some enforcement… it’s going to take time for people to just get used to not having their phone on their lap … not having to communicate during that short time they’re commuting.”

D’Aoust also offered some common-sense advice with which Ontario car accident lawyers are sure to agree: put the phone away; watch for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users; never speed or drive impaired; and use extra caution during rush hour.

Ottawa’s latest traffic fatality statistics show that road safety is a province-wide issue, not something unique to Toronto. As our cities grow and become more densely populated, law enforcement and city planners must find new ways to protect residents.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a serious traffic accident, contact the Ontario car accident lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team is proud to offer representation to seriously injured accident victims across Ontario, from Toronto to Ottawa.

 

Image credit: Wladyslaw/Wikimedia Commons

Impaired boating on the rise in some regions of Ontario

Impaired boating on the rise in some regions of Ontario

We’ve officially reached peak cottage season in Ontario, the time of year when cities empty and rural hubs teem with activity. The dog days of summer are also a busy time on the province’s abundant waterways, which makes safe boating practices more important than ever. Unfortunately, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have noticed an increase in unsafe habits this year, including impaired boating, which every boating accident lawyer recognizes as a cardinal sin.

In Chatham-Kent, the OPP has received more complaints about intoxicated boating than usual, according to a report from CBC Windsor. The provincial police force hasn’t pinpointed a reason for the increase, but they are committed to stepping up enforcement.

“We haven’t really seen this type of behaviour in the past,” Const. Jay Denorer told the CBC. “So what’s happening now is we’re starting to notice it.”

Moving forward, the OPP has pledged to include alcohol checks as part of their regular safety inspections. Locals hope the larger police presence will result in a tangible reduction in impaired boating.

“There is unfortunately too much drinking and boating, and it does cause accidents. It causes fatalities,” Leamington boater Dorit Jirash told the CBC. “There’s a lot you need to know in order to be a successful boater, and drinking has no place on a boat whatsoever.”

Indeed, as any boating accident lawyer in Ontario can tell you, drinking is a factor in approximately 65 per cent of all fatal boating accidents across Canada. As such, boating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offence; in Ontario, individuals who drink and boat are subject to the same punishment as those who drink and drive.

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for boaters is 80 milligrams. Additionally, it is illegal for most boaters to consume alcohol while on board their vessel. Legal alcohol consumption is only permitted on anchored or docked boats with a permanent toilet and permanent cooking and sleeping facilities. Drinking on all smaller boats, including those without motors, is illegal.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a boating accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced boating accident lawyer today. Our team can assess the validity of your claim, provide guidance during the legal process, and offer access to medical service providers to mitigate your recovery.

 

Image credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal mired in controversy

Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal mired in controversy

In 2012, Mary Shuttleworth suffered serious injuries in a two-vehicle collision near Dundalk, Ontario: a traumatic brain injury and soft tissue damage left her unable to work, the victim of persistent nausea and vertigo, and suffering from a serious emotional toll. The Province of Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), the body in charge of resolving accident benefits disputes under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS), determined that her injuries were “non-catastrophic.” As every Ontario car accident lawyer understands, this designation prevented her from accessing tens of thousands of dollars in additional benefits.

However, in a surprise twist, Shuttleworth’s case was reopened this year after an anonymous letter to her legal team revealed major impropriety within the LAT. The letter alleged that Susan Sapin, the case’s original adjudicator, initially found Shuttleworth to be catastrophically impaired and entitled to full accident benefits. But an intervention by Linda Lamoureux, the executive director of Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Ontario, caused her to reverse her initial finding. Shuttleworth’s benefits were denied.

After receiving the letter, Shuttleworth’s Ontario car accident lawyer filed an access to information request that showed extensive communication between Sapin and Lamoureux. It also showed that Lemoureux’s initial intervention came without Sapin’s knowledge and not at her request. Though consultation between adjudicators is permitted, the evidence was enough for Justice Julie A. Thorburn to overturn the denial of benefits.

“I make no finding of any actual impropriety having occurred on the facts of this case,” Justice Thorburn wrote. However, she added that the adjudication process failed to meet “the minimum standards required to ensure both the existence and appearance of adjudicative independence of the adjudicator’s decision.”

“Justice must not only be done; it must be seen to be done,” Thorburn wrote.

While the case offers new hope to Mary Shuttleworth, it also provides reason to worry for every Ontario car accident lawyer. Shuttleworth’s case was the first in which the LAT was asked to decide whether an accident victim was catastrophically or non-catastrophically impaired; it failed to provide a fair, impartial decision.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an automotive collision, consider contacting Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to learn how we can help you access compensation. An experienced Ontario car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options, provide guidance as you file your insurance claim, and aim to secure fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries.

 

Image credit: Michael Pereckas/Flickr

Collisions involving transport trucks on the rise in Ontario

Collisions involving transport trucks on the rise in Ontario

If you plan to drive on an Ontario highway this summer, be extra cautious around large commercial vehicles. In July, the OPP announced that collisions involving transport trucks were up 10 per cent year-over-year, and that fatal collisions were up 38 per cent, resulting in at least 41 deaths. Law enforcement – along with every car accident lawyer in the province – are struggling to explain the recent surge in accidents.

“We’re compiling all of the statistics right now to determine common causal factors,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told the CBC. “When it comes down to it, most, if not all of these crashes, come down to some sort of human error.”

Both the Ontario Safety League, an organization dedicated to reducing preventable injuries and deaths on Ontario roads, and the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) believe under-qualified and under-trained drivers cause some of the accidents. OTA President Stephen Laskowski told the CBC that a small number of unqualified drivers has tarnished the industry’s reputation, and that the OTA is working with the OPP and Ministry of Transportation on a solution.

“We’ve been working together in multiple areas of how all of our organizations can work better together to focus enforcement,” he said.

As any Ontario car accident lawyer can tell you, speeding, driver fatigue, lack of compliance to safety standards, and distracted driving are factors in many highway collisions, including those involving transport trucks. According to the CBC, the OPP’s “Operation Safe Trucking” program has resulted in more than 1,600 speeding charges, 350 distracted driving charges, and 650 trucks being pulled off the road for safety issues. Laskowski is also an advocate of electronic logs, which would discourage truckers from spending more than the legal maximum of 13 hours on the road per day.

While law enforcement and the trucking industry take steps to curb the rise of transport truck accidents, drivers should take their own precautions: pay careful attention to trucks’ signals and mirrors and avoid getting caught in their blind spots. Be as visible as possible on the road – as Sgt. Schmidt reminded the CBC, if you can’t see the truck’s driver, chances are they can’t see you.

If you’re involved in a collision with a transport truck, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. Our team can assess your claim, provide pragmatic legal advice, and guide you through the recovery process.

 

Image credit: Rennett Stowe/Flickr

Lawyers call for improved transparency in delivery of expert reports

Lawyers call for improved transparency in delivery of expert reports

Medical experts play a crucial role in personal injury lawsuits: they are enlisted by plaintiff and defense-side lawyers to establish the facts of disputes, including the existence and extent of damages. Their testimony helps the court determine what compensation, if any, is owed. As such, personal injury lawyers are quick to confront the possibility of bias in medical expert reports.

Unfortunately, the system by which medical experts provide their opinions is far from perfect. Last month, Law Times reported that personal injury lawyers have called for an end to the use of ‘ghostwriters’ in medical reports, referring to third-party agencies through which lawyers retain expert witnesses. These agencies essentially work as middle men, handling the flow of medical records and other pertinent information to experts and providing summaries of reports to lawyers.

Some personal injury lawyers fear these agencies have an outsize influence on the tone and contents of expert reports. In April 2018, their worries were validated by the testimony of a medical expert in Harb and Allstate who stated that the submitted report did not align with his dictation, according to Law Times.

The issue becomes more insidious in cases that are settled out of court, when the expert reports are largely subject to lawyers’ and mediators’ interpretations and aren’t exposed to the scrutiny of cross-examination. In the 2017 case Kushnir v. Macari, Justice Helen MacLeod-Beliveau warned that for the sake of out-of-court settlements, “the expert report must be that of the expert and not a report written partly by administrative staff or other individuals employed by the agency through which the doctor provides expert services.”

Personal injury lawyers are, in essence, calling for improved transparency with regards to these reports. In situations where a third-party agency contributes editing, summarization, or opinions, plaintiff-side lawyers want the contributors to be available for testimony. If a non-expert’s biases made their way into an expert report, the jurors or mediator tasked with resolving the dispute ought to be made aware, especially when an injury victim’s potentially life-changing compensation is at stake.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our team has proudly represented some of Ontario’s most vulnerable accident victims for decades, and can provide the guidance and counsel you need to facilitate your recovery.

Falls are Canada’s leading cause of injury: report

Falls are Canada’s leading cause of injury: report

A new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows that falls are the most common source of injury in Canada. The news comes as no surprise to Ontario slip and fall lawyers who regularly field personal injury queries relating to spills on ice, slick floors, and uneven ground.

In total, falls caused almost 654,000 emergency room visits and 152,500 hospital admissions in 2016-17, or nearly 1,800 emergency room visits and 417 admissions every day. As Canada’s population ages, physicians and slip and fall lawyers expect fall-related injuries to become more prevalent.

Seniors have the highest risk of falling and often suffer the most serious injuries, but no demographic is immune, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute senior researcher Geoff Fernie told the CBC.

“It’s not exclusively older people,” he said. “We see a lot of young children falling down stairs and having serious head injuries.”

“We see middle-aged people running up and down stairs and having indoor stair accidents quite commonly,” Fernie continued. “And we see a lot of workers having falls – and not just construction-type workers. People in the winter, people working in coffee shops and falling over in the car park when they get there in the morning.”

Falls in the home accounted for a surprising number of emergency visits, far outpacing slips on ice; the most common forms of injury included head injuries, broken ankles, and hip injuries.

“Head injuries are a big worry … because they can be very serious,” Fernie said. “You can have long-standing effects from head injuries and people can be off work for one to two years.”

Avoiding Falls

Slip and fall events may be common in Canada, but they can be reduced through common sense measures like avoiding icy routes or adhering to slippery floor warnings. For senior citizens, maintaining fitness levels contributes to improved balance, which is an excellent deterrent.

Researchers have also proposed establishing standards for winter boots and changing the depth of stair treads under the Canada Building Code. The latter proposal is estimated to save nearly 30 lives and negate 13,000 injuries within five years of implementation.

Of course, eliminating slip and falls from the national landscape is an unrealistic goal: as long winters are cold and Canadians are active, injuries from falls will occur. If you have suffered an injury related to a fall, contact the slip and fall lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our experienced team can assess the validity of your claim and help guide you on your path to recovery.

How safe are Toronto’s streetcars?

How safe are Toronto’s streetcars?

In June, the Toronto Star reported on an analysis of data published by the Toronto police that focused on collisions involving vulnerable road users and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) vehicles. The article states that streetcars are disproportionately involved in these accidents, accounting for more than half of all fatal collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. The findings are sure to be of interest to any Toronto personal injury lawyer with expertise in accidents involving vulnerable road users.

The TTC is largely omitted from public debate on Toronto’s road safety issues, despite being the third largest public transit system in North America behind only the New York City Transit Authority and the Mexico City Metro. Fatal accidents involving TTC vehicles are relatively rare, after all, and public transit remains one of the safest forms of inner-city travel.

However, no discussion on road safety in Toronto can be complete without considering the TTC’s fleet of roughly 2,000 streetcars and busses, with special attention paid to the former. Between 2007 and 2017, 15 of the 29 fatal collisions between vulnerable road users and TTC vehicles involved streetcars, even though busses make up the majority of the fleet and serve more routes. Last year, streetcars averaged 7.61 collisions per 100,000 miles driven, more than double the rate for busses.

“Streetcars are heavy, don’t stop quickly and can’t swerve to avoid people,” TTC spokesman Stuart Green told the Star in an email. “Despite the training and best efforts of our operators to be defensive at all times, sadly, collisions do occur.”

From a Toronto personal injury lawyer’s point of view, individuals who are injured in collisions with streetcars have as much right to compensation as victims of crashes between private vehicles. However, determining liability in these scenarios can be tricky: When is the vehicle’s driver at fault for damages, and when does the responsibility fall on the municipality? Is the TTC itself ever to blame? As in most personal injury cases, the answer depends on the specifics of the accident. If you’ve been injured, collect as much evidence as possible from the scene and secure the contact information of potential witnesses. These proactive measures can mean the difference between accessing fair compensation and self-funding your recovery.

If you’ve been hurt in an accident involving a public transit vehicle, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Toronto personal injury lawyer. Our team can assess your legal situation and provide guidance that helps you through your recovery.

 

Image credit: Danielle Scott/Flickr

What to do After a Car Accident – A Toronto Lawyer’s Perspective

In 2016, nearly 2,000 Canadians died in car accidents and tens of thousands more were injured. While these numbers might shock casual observers, they will come as no surprise to personal injury and car accident lawyers who represent injury victims on a daily basis.  

The infographic above, created using statistics from the Government of Canada, aims to make drivers aware of the risks they face on the road and provide guidance for the vital moments following an accident.

Are You Part of an At-Risk Group?

As car accident lawyers know, certain Canadians are at greater risk of automotive injury than others. Senior citizens, for example, are involved in accidents at a higher rate than the general population, as are 25- to 34-year-olds. If you fall into one of these segments, take extra care to adhere to the rules of the road: always wear your seatbelt; avoid distracted driving at all costs; and never drive while intoxicated.

Interestingly, rural drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents, while urban drivers are more likely to be injured. We’ve discussed both the unique risks of rural driving and the serious concerns around inner city road safety before – no matter where you drive, always be aware of your surroundings.

What To Do After a Car Accident?

Your actions in the moments following an accident can have a profound effect on your physical recovery and your ability to access compensation through a civil suit. The steps included in this infographic are simple but can help you maximize your chances of a full and healthy recovery.

The first thing to remember when you’ve been in a crash is to stay calm. Take a deep breath, check yourself for injuries, and ensure your passengers are safe. Don’t leave your vehicle until you’ve assessed yourself and the scene surrounding the accident.

Once you’ve safely exited your vehicle, take stock of the scene and collect as much information as possible. Take pictures of your vehicle, the environment, and poor road conditions that may have contributed to the crash. Collect names and contact information from other drivers and any witnesses to the event.

If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. In the event of a serious injury, an ambulance should be called – be sure to ask for a copy of emergency responders’ reports.

Finally, be sure to call your insurance company and contact a car accident lawyer while the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind. If you’ve suffered an injury through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help assess your claim and guide you through the legal process.

Car accident injuries are an all-too-common issue in Canada, but the car accident lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers are here to help. If you’ve been involved in an accident, call us today to take your first steps on the road to recovery.

Handheld sensor could boost fight against brain injury

Handheld sensor could boost fight against brain injury

Slow progress is being made in the fight against brain injury. Earlier this year, brain injury lawyers celebrated as the Ontario Government passed Rowan’s Law, a nation-leading policy addressing concussions in youth sports. More recently, researchers at the University of Calgary introduced a new sensor that quickly and accurately detects brain injuries, including concussions, with a pinprick of blood.

Similar technology already exists, but the new immunosensor, which is ready for clinical trials, is much more sensitive and provides results more quickly.

“I think the idea that in neurological sciences – so not just brain injury, not just concussion, not just spinal cord injury – that we can actually take a fluid sample from someone and get an objective measure of injury is huge,” Chantel Debert, an associate professor in the department of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary, told the Calgary Herald.

The sensor works by scanning a small blood sample for proteins and molecules that are known to indicate injury in the central nervous system. By measuring these biosensors, the device, which is roughly the size of a smartphone, can also help monitor injuries.

Unlike existing technology, the University of Calgary’s sensor can deliver results in as little as 30 minutes, without the help of large machines.

“It is at least 1,000 times more sensitive [than other technologies],” said Schulich School of Engineering assistant professor Dr. Amir Sanati Nazhad, according to the Herald. “Other companies, their whole process takes about four hours or so. Our process is much faster compared to other ones.”

Much of the conversation around this type of technology relates to preventing concussions, but the sensor has many other potential uses, including some that are significant to brain injury lawyers. For instance, it could be used to detect brain injuries at the scene of car accidents or slip-and-fall events. It could also be helpful in emergency room settings – a fast, convenient brain injury test would help guide patient care.

Global News reports that the immunosensor is roughly a year away from going to market. However, if clinical trials are successful, the University of Calgary’s sensor may soon be found on sidelines and in ambulances across the country. It is expected to cost as little as $8 per unit.

If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our experienced team of brain injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you navigate the road to recovery.

 

Image credit: Fritzology, taken from University of Calgary press release

A look at Canada’s new impaired driving laws

A look at Canada’s new impaired driving laws

A sweeping overhaul of Canada’s alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired driving laws was given Royal Assent in June, with controversial new rules coming into force over the coming months. Bill C-46, introduced by the Liberal government as a companion to its marijuana legalization legislation, has divided politicians, constitutional experts, personal injury lawyers, and public opinion.

Random Roadside Testing

Perhaps the most controversial provision in the bill relates to drunk driving. Under existing law, police need reasonable suspicion of impairment to demand a breathalyzer test; starting in December, they will be able to demand a test from any driver, at any time. Refusal to submit will result in penalties similar to an impaired driving conviction.

Some lawyers and civil liberties groups believe the provision violates the Charter of Right and Freedoms’ protection against unreasonable searches. Others worry the new police powers will increase racial profiling. The Senate voted to remove the provision, but the House of Commons insisted on its inclusion. Liberal MPs said similar measures enacted in Australia and Ireland produced significant reductions in impaired driving rates; however, most personal injury lawyers know that Canada has also experienced declining impaired driving rates under existing rules.

Saliva Tests

Bill C-46 also enables police to conduct roadside saliva tests for cocaine, methamphetamine, and THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, based on reasonable suspicion of impairment.

This section of the bill comes into force immediately, but the tests won’t be active for months. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is waiting for approval from the National Research Council before signing off on the devices which, assuming they’re cleared for use, must be purchased and shipped to frontline officers for training.

Canadians will be able to legally purchase and consume marijuana on October 17, 2018. It is doubtful that law enforcement will have access to a reliable marijuana-impairment test by that date.

THC Blood Level Limits

Finally, Bill C-46 allows for the establishment of maximum THC blood levels. According to the National Post, the federal government has recommended a maximum allowable level of two nanograms per millilitre of blood. A driver with a THC level between two and five nanograms would be fined up to $1,000; a THC level above five nanograms would come with minimum penalties of a $1,000 fine on the first offence, a 30-day prison sentence on the second offence, and a 120-day prison sentence on the third offence.

Establishing punishments based on THC blood levels is controversial. While blood-alcohol levels can reliably measure impairment, scientists believe the connection between THC blood levels and impairment is significantly weaker. Until testing becomes more refined, however, the federal government is committed to a zero-tolerance policy.

Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers

From a personal injury lawyer’s perspective, the new impaired driving laws are indeed controversial. While mandatory roadside testing may reduce impaired driving rates, Charter challenges appear likely. The current lack of reliable testing for marijuana-impairment is also of significant concern considering the looming legalization date.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team can assess your legal standing, provide access to leading medical care, and guide you on your path to recovery.

 

Image credit: Teddy Kwok/Flickr

 

 

 

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