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As we discussed in last week’s blog, cycling is on the rise across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an unexpected positive outcome from an otherwise disastrous emergency. Cycling is an efficient and healthy way to get from point A to point B and, when all road users obey traffic laws and treat each other with respect, it is also quite safe.
Unfortunately, as our bicycle accident lawyers know, cycling accidents are far too common in Toronto. Without proper preventative measures in place, the city could see a rise in serious cycling injuries in tandem with increased ridership. According to the Canadian Automobile Association and Statistics Canada, as reported by Global News, approximately 7,500 serious cycling injuries occur each year across the country. It will take the combined efforts of cyclists, motorists, and individual jurisdictions to prevent an increase.
Toronto is uncharacteristically ahead of the game on this front. Last week, city council voted to immediately add 40 kilometres of new bike lanes to the city’s growing cycling network. Included in the plan are bike lanes on high traffic stretches of Bloor St West (from Shaw to Runnymede), Bloor St East (from Avenue to Sherbourne), Dundas St East (from Sackville to Broadview), University Ave and Queen’s Park (from Adelaide to Bloor), and The Danforth from Broadview to Dawes.
“Expanding bikeways will help increase mobility options for people as the City starts to reopen and the need for travel increases,” a report to city council read, per CBC News Toronto.
“As we begin to transition to recovery in Toronto and more businesses and workplaces open back up, how we will get around is a pressing challenge,” read a joint statement from councillors Mike Layton, Joe Cressy, and Kristyn Wong-Tam. “For physical distancing we need to create alternative and safe methods of transportation.”
Mayor John Tory also voiced his support for the plan: “That’s going to mean more business for shop owners, it’s going to mean that we’re going to take some of the pressure off our transit system and protect the health of the city.”
As more cyclists hit the streets, it will be crucial that they adhere to traffic laws and follow safety rules. Doing so could limit the number of calls our bicycle accident lawyers receive. These rules include:
Always Wear a Helmet: It is illegal for those under the age of 18 to ride without a helmet in Ontario, and unwise to do so over the age of 18.
Ride a Bike That ‘Fits’: Bicycles are generally sized by their frame. It will be easier to control a bike that fits your body.
Equip your Bike with Safety Gear: Lights, reflectors, and a bell are must-haves for safe riding.
Wear Bright Clothing: Many serious cycling accidents occur at dusk or overnight. Bright, reflective clothing can mitigate this risk.
Travel with the Flow of Traffic: Always ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic, unless you are on a designated bicycle lane.
Don’t Ride on the Sidewalk: Just as motorists have an obligation to avoid injuring cyclists, cyclists must avoid putting pedestrians at risk.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a cycling accident in Ontario, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of experienced bicycle accident lawyers.
While most activities have been curtailed during the COVID-19 lockdowns, cycling is thriving. Bike sales are up in markets across the country and cyclist activity has increased. With public transit now seen as a risky option, people who cannot work from home are increasingly choosing to commute on foot or by bike, a trend that will likely continue as the weather warms up and businesses reopen. This behaviour could have positive long-term impacts on public health – although there are safety risks in the short-term, as cycling accident lawyers know.
The City of Toronto is ground zero for cyclist safety concerns in Canada. Serious injuries and deaths to vulnerable road users are common here, despite significant investment in road safety measures and City Hall’s commitment to Vision Zero. Cyclists, especially newcomers to the activity, must be vigilant as the city gradually emerges from its lockdown.
“It’s really important to do (cycle) safely and always be vigilant,” said David Shellnut, a Toronto-based cycling advocate, to CityNews in early May. “Cycling is fun, but car drivers in Ontario are often very careless and negligent.”
Beginners are encouraged to plan routes on predominantly quiet, residential streets.
“Take the residential, quiet roads. They’re so quiet, you’re going to feel so happy,” said Cathy Watts, co-chair of Saskatoon Cycles, also to CityNews. “Figure out where you’re going to have to cross the major arterial roads, where there’s going to be a traffic light and a walkway for you to get across.”
Even as Canada’s lockdowns end, public transit systems are anticipating drastically reduced ridership for the foreseeable future. As a result, personal injury and cycling accident lawyers are expecting motor vehicle usage to hit an all-time high. More cars on the road alongside larger numbers of cyclists and pedestrians could lead to a spike in serious injuries.
If you’re planning to commute to work by bike, or even planning a pleasant weekend ride, be sure to follow these bare-minimum cycling safety basics:
Always wear a helmet
Wear bright, reflective clothing at all times
Equip your bike with protective gear, including lights, reflectors, and a bell
Follow the rules of the road
Don’t ride recklessly or too fast
Never ride your bike while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a cycling accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of cycling accident lawyers will review your case, explain your options, and provide support and guidance throughout the legal process.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has made our streets temporarily safer – vehicle traffic is down, and bicycle and pedestrian traffic are up. In many jurisdictions, car accident lawyers are fielding fewer calls from severely injured automotive accident victims.
“It’s become a cycling and walking paradise and you can hear the birds better,” climate solutions policy analyst Tom Green told CP24 about Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
“If there’s one silver lining here, it’s that we’ve been in a place that isn’t as car-centric, that doesn’t have that same congestion, pollution, noise stressors,” added Meghan Winters, an associate professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. “And people have been out in their communities noticing different things, hearing different things, feeling safe on their streets.”
“We’re definitely seeing lighter volumes of traffic at all hours of the day through the entire city,” said Toronto Police Service Sgt. Jason Kraft, also to CP24. The situation in Toronto is repeating across the country; in Edmonton, traffic volume has fallen by 30 per cent.
Unfortunately, the same factors that have reduced vehicle traffic have also affected public transit. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has already temporarily laid off 1,200 employees amid an 85 per cent ridership decrease, and Vancouver’s TransLink is losing around $75 million per month in revenue. If these and other public transit authorities are unable to recover, car accident lawyers are concerned that road safety will return to pre-COVID conditions – or worse. Data from China indicates that more people are driving personal automobiles today than before the lockdown.
There is also concern about bad driving habits taking hold during this unusual period.
“Drivers are choosing to double and sometimes triple the posted speed limit,” said Sgt. Kraft. “Our public roads are not your personal race track.”
If cities want to preserve the level of safety and comfort that vulnerable road users are currently experiencing, they will “have to invest in ensuring that walking and cycling continue to feel like safe activities,” Winters said. Unfortunately, it’s hard to imagine cities prioritizing cyclist and pedestrian safety over an efficient return to normal when the pandemic eventually recedes.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers will review your case, outline your legal options, and provide support and guidance as you navigate the challenging road to recovery.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly cruel to populations that were already at-risk in our society. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are more likely to experience severe symptoms than the young and healthy. Low-income individuals and hourly workers have contracted the virus at a higher rate than wealthy people of the same age. And seriously injured accident victims, who are among the most vulnerable populations in Ontario, have also been affected, which is a major concern to victims’ rights activists and personal injury lawyers.
For example: imagine that a family member suffered a spinal injury in a car accident and now lives with chronic pain and limited mobility. Although their post-accident life has been challenging, they have adjusted to a new normal with the help of friends, family, and a support team paid for with accident benefits. The support team may include attendant caregivers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, and more.
Suddenly, the public health measures imposed by the provincial government to arrest the spread of COVID-19 have upended your family member’s new normal. They are no longer able to visit the medical facilities where they received rehabilitative treatment and physiotherapy. Their occupational therapist or attendant caregiver is no longer comfortable visiting multiple private homes in a single day.
Recovery from a serious, life-altering injury can take years of sustained hard work – any prolonged pause in the recovery can cause regression. This is the reality now facing numerous accident survivors across Ontario.
To mitigate the impact of this unprecedented upheaval, some personal injury lawyers and victims’ rights activists are advocating for temporary changes to Ontario’s accident benefits system. Currently, attendant care benefits are only available to accident victims who receive care from a health professional or a from a non-professional, such as a family member, who has suffered an economic loss to provide care. The FAIR Association of Victims for Accident Insurance Reform is calling on the province to waive this requirement
“Insurers should consider temporarily waiving the requirement that the caregiver sustain an economic loss in order to be paid for their services and pay the replacement provider the standard rate,” FAIR Chair of the Board Rhona DesRoches told Canadian Underwriter. A spokesperson from the Insurance Bureau of Canada told the magazine it is “examining these issues closely to determine how best to serve the health care needs of injured people during the emergency.”
Waiving the economic loss requirement for attendant care benefits would not, on its own, solve the myriad issues facing injury victims amid COVID-19. But it would show that insurance providers and the provincial government are sensitive to the needs of at-risks groups on the front lines of this global crisis.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team will be by your side through every step of the legal process.
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As Canada’s COVID-19 death toll rises, personal injury lawyers are preparing to investigate possible instances of fatal negligence. We know that COVID-19 is a serious disease that is especially harmful to the elderly, the ill, and other vulnerable people. We also know that proactive preventative measures can reduce infections and limit deaths. Look at New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea: these countries took early action against the disease and have remained diligent as infections fell. Governments, businesses, and private citizens worked together to save lives.
A little over 1,100 total cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in New Zealand. Roughly the same number, perhaps more, have been confirmed on three cruise ships – the Diamond Princess, Grand Princess, and Ruby Princess – operated by Princess Cruises Ltd. How is it that a single cruise line can account for as many coronavirus infections as a nation of 4.9 million? South of the border, two wrongful death lawsuits allege the company’s negligence put passengers at risk.
One complaint, filed by the family of a Los Angeles man who contracted the virus aboard the Ruby Princess, claims the cruise line’s parent company, Carnival Plc, knew of a previous outbreak on the vessel but chose to continue operating. The line is also accused of welcoming passengers on board without adequately sanitizing the vessel, according to Bloomberg Law. A separate claim has been filed by the family of a Texas man who contracted the virus aboard the Grand Princess.
Another wrongful death claim, filed by the family of a Walmart employee in Illinois, alleges the company failed to protect workers on several fronts. The employee, Wando Evans, was found dead from COVID-19 complications two weeks after reporting symptoms to his store. The claim alleges that Walmart failed to implement social distancing guidelines, failed to appropriately sanitize the location, and failed to provide personal protective equipment to employees. A second employee at the store passed away just days after Evans, also from COVID-19 complications.
In the State of Washington, a wrongful death claim has been filed against a Seattle-area nursing home and its parent company, Life Care Centers of America, per Global News. It alleges that “vital facts about the outbreak” were concealed from the family of Twilla Morin, who died on March 4. As a result, the plaintiffs did not feel compelled to remove Morin from “an environment, and under the care of individuals and entities, dangerous to her health and safety.”
To date, there have been several COVID-19 wrongful death claims initiated in Canada, including some focused on possible negligence at long-term care facilities. As the scope of the damage becomes clear, it is likely more claims will materialize.
If a member of your family has died or been injured as a result of the negligence of another party, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team is continuing to accept new clients throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.
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An eerie calm has descended on some of Ontario’s busiest highways. As Ontarians stay home amid the COVID-19 outbreak, car accident lawyers are seeing fewer serious injuries and insurance providers are receiving fewer accident benefits claims. As a result, payouts are down and savings are up.
Rod Phillips, Ontario’s Finance Minister, has stated that insurance providers should reduce premiums, offer rebates, or defer payments in response to the coronavirus lockdown. On April 16, the provincial government amended its Insurance Act to enable insurers to issue rebates for up to 12 months after the end of a declared emergency.
“We are in unprecedented times and people are experiencing extraordinary financial pressure,” Phillips said in a release. “My message to insurance companies has been clear: they should provide relief that reflects the financial hardships their dedicated customers are facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Insurance providers appear to be playing along. Earlier in April, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) announced hundreds of millions of dollars in customer savings.
“For consumers whose driving habits have changed significantly, IBC member companies are offering reductions in auto insurance premiums to reflect this reduced risk,” read an IBC release. “IBC expects this could result in $600 million in savings to consumers. The reductions will continue for the next 90 days. Additionally, insurers have supported Canadians and businesses who are most adversely affected by honouring requests to defer premiums. Thousands of Canadians have had their premiums deferred.”
Independent of the IBC notice, Aviva Canada announced $100 million in relief, including premium reductions of up to 75 per cent for clients who have stopped driving completely. TD Insurance said it will allow certain auto customers to defer payments for up to 90 days, and CAA Insurance also announced reduced rates.
“CAA is really proud right now to be offering relief to consumers by reducing our rates on home and auto insurance by 10 per cent,” CAA President Matthew Turack said in early April.
Unfortunately, premium adjustments won’t help Ontario’s most at-risk auto insurance customers: accident victims who are already receiving benefits.
“We have people who are seriously and catastrophically injured who are in their homes or in community settings and they are vulnerable, by virtue of their often complex constellation of injuries,” said Laurie Davis, executive director of the Ontario Rehabilitation Alliance, to Canadian Underwriter. “They may be paraplegics. They may be quadriplegics. They may have brain injury. They may have all of the above. They may have severe motor and cognitive impairments, which make it difficult at the best of times for them to stay healthy.”
This population, many of whom are current or former clients of Ontario car accident lawyers, faces unique hardships during COVID-19. Individuals who rely on physiotherapy and chiropractic services may regress in their recoveries, and those who rely on home care are at elevated risk of contracting the virus. It is incumbent upon the provincial government, healthcare workers, and insurance providers to determine how best to serve this at-risk community.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident or has been denied benefits by an insurer, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how we can help. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers will review your claim and manage dealings with your insurance provider while you focus on your recovery.
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It’s difficult to predict the long term impacts of COVID-19 and the international lockdown to contain its spread. As of mid-April 2020, we have no idea when new cases will peak in Ontario, nor when physical distancing measures will be relaxed. What we do know is that this is both a health emergency and an economic crisis. Businesses of all sizes are suffering, to say nothing of working people. Millions of Canadians have filed for employment insurance since the pandemic took hold, and it’s reasonable to expect that short-term and long term disability (LTD) claims will follow. Here’s how a long term disability lawyer can help if your benefits claim has been denied.
What are Long Term Disability Benefits?
When a person is seriously injured and no longer able to work, they may be able to access long term disability benefits from an insurer. Most employer benefits packages include long term disability, and you can also purchase coverage privately.
LTD benefits generally equal a certain percentage of pre-injury income. The actual amount is determined by the severity and extent of your injuries, the scope of your plan, and the resources required for treatment.
What Sort of Injuries Quality Me for Long Term Disability Benefits?
In order to qualify for LTD benefits, your insurance provider will require proof that you are unable to work. Any condition that prevents you from working is fair game. This can include physical, psychological, mental, or emotional injuries.
However, some injuries qualify more clearly than others. A person who is severely physically disabled is more likely to be approved than someone suffering from chronic pain or depression. If you are unable to work but have been denied LTD benefits, a long term disability lawyer can help.
What Does This Have to do with COVID-19?
As the lockdown drags on, experts are concerned about an increase in mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Job insecurity, sickness in loved ones, and prolonged physical isolation are all triggers for mental health episodes, which could lead to a spike in claims.
Fully employed individuals are not exempt. In fact, there is concern over widespread burnout as business owners and employees struggle to keep businesses intact.
“You’ve got so many layoffs and reduced workforces happening right now that those people who are still in a job are happy to be in their job, but they’re taking on all that extra workload,” said Lianne Clarke, vice-president of wellness and disability solutions at Cowan Insurance Group, to Benefits Canada. “Historically, what we see when this happens is, … once everything stabilizes, those people who have been working feel burned out, and you’ll start to see them taking disability for other reasons – the stress of all this – which then flows through to LTD.”
We may also see claims related to musculoskeletal issues as people continue to work from home at non-ergonomic work setups.
How Can a Long Term Disability Lawyer Help?
Unfortunately, insurance providers are known to reject many claims for long term disability benefits, even when the claimant’s doctors have ruled them unable to work. If your claim has been denied, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced long term disability lawyer. Our team will assume responsibility for your claim, giving you the time and energy you need to focus on your recovery.
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The Province of Alberta is considering changes to its auto insurance system, including adopting a no-fault approach similar to Ontario’s. Personal injury lawyers in the province aren’t happy about the idea. Here’s why Alberta is pursuing the changes and why insurance experts think Ontario is a bad model.
Why Does Alberta Need a New Auto Insurance System?
Like elsewhere in the country, insurance premiums are on the rise in Alberta. A study, conducted last year and delivered to the province’s treasury board and finance department, blamed the trend, in part, on the number of claims for ‘minor’ injuries.
“Albertans are increasingly retaining legal representation to negotiate their compensation following a motor vehicle accident,” the study, which was obtained by the Toronto Star’s Edmonton Bureau, says. “Our recommendation is that the system can be modified to make it easier for a claimant to make a claim without the time consuming and costly legal process.”
One proposed modification is to strip Albertans of the right to sue for pain and suffering for minor injuries. Although awards for pain and suffering are capped at just over $5,000 in the province, the study states that 57 per cent of all bodily injury payouts come from these claims.
What Does the Province Propose?
News reports suggest that the province is leaning toward a no-fault system similar to Ontario’s. The rumoured approach would strip Albertans of their right to sue for pain and suffering for minor injuries and instead determine compensation based on an accident benefits schedule. In other words, the extent of the accident victim’s injuries would be determined by a private assessor, and compensation would be delivered based on their severity. As in Ontario, private insurance companies would continue to provide coverage.
Personal injury lawyers in Alberta aren’t happy with the rumoured changes, and some auto insurance experts are confused about the province’s decision to emulate Ontario’s dysfunctional system.
“The promise of lower insurance rates sounds really enticing to a lot of people, especially in tough economic times when people are struggling,” one personal injury lawyer told CBC News Alberta. “But the question is, what rights are we being asked to give up in order to get those lower rates?”
“It’s really tempting to give up your rights in the short term in return for the promise of lower insurance rates. But I think we can look across the country and see that those promises really don’t come true in other jurisdictions,” he added.
“It doesn’t work in Ontario,” Wilfrid Laurier University professor Mary Kelly, an insurance expert, told the Star. “I think that’s a fair statement, which is why I’m rather puzzled that it is being considered.”
Most Ontario personal injury lawyers would agree that the province’s auto insurance system needs improvement. Despite the no-fault system in place, the previous provincial government resorted to slashing benefits to reduce premiums in 2016. And, in 2017, an independent review of the system, requested by the new government, found it to be “one of the least effective insurance systems in Canada.”
Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury lawyers in Ontario may be powerless to influence the Province of Alberta’s auto insurance policy. However, we can help accident victims access the compensation they deserve for the injuries they have suffered. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
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The spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has put the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, and all Canadians in an unprecedented situation. The measures put in place by all levels of government to reduce the impact of this dangerous virus have changed the way we live, work, and play.
For the next several weeks, Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers will be operational and available to assist new and existing clients. However, our physical offices will be closed until further notice.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illnesses in people and some of which cause illnesses in animals. There are many known varieties of human coronaviruses, and most are associated with mild symptoms similar to the common cold.
COVID-19 is a new kind of coronavirus which has never before been identified in humans. In most patients, the virus causes mild to moderate respiratory illness that doesn’t require special treatment. However, older people and those with underlying conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are at risk of developing much more serious and potentially deadly symptoms.
The virus is highly infectious. It is spread primarily through droplets of saliva or nasal discharge when a person coughs or sneezes.
How Can I Protect Myself and Others?
The City of Toronto has issued detailed measures to arrest the spread of COVID-19. As of April 1, 2020, these include:
All individuals with COVID-19 are ordered to stay home for 14 days.
All individuals who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 are ordered to stay home for 14 days.
Anyone returning from international travel must stay home for 14 days in accordance with federal orders.
Anyone over the age of 70 is strongly encouraged to stay home.
Anyone who is not ill and has not travelled is strongly directed to stay home, except for the following reasons: to access healthcare or medication; to shop for groceries once per week; to walk their dogs; to get daily exercise while maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres.
Only essential businesses may remain open, and those must maximize physical distancing and infection prevention as much as possible.
Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers encourages all residents of Toronto and of the Province of Ontario to adhere to these directives as strictly as possible.
What is Neinstein Doing?
Like so many others in this city, the team at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is working from in accordance with physical distancing directives. During this unprecedented time, our team is continuing to work on existing claims and is available to assist new clients. We will also share helpful resources on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. Remember: we’re all in this together.
If you or a member of your family has been injured, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation via phone or video conference. Our experienced team will be happy to review your case and explain your legal options.
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In British Columbia, a couple from Salt Spring Island are being sued by a young man who suffered catastrophic injuries in a single-vehicle accident after leaving their premises in 2012. The case, which has now entered the provincial Supreme Court, is the latest test of ‘social host liability’ in Canada, and personal injury lawyers are watching it closely.
What is a Social Host?
A social host is a person who invites guests into their residence or onto their property. Social host liability cases tend to revolve around alcohol: when alcohol is served, how much responsibility does the host have for their guests’ actions after they have left the premises?
Social hosts’ responsibilities are different from those of bartenders, waiters, and licensed establishments, which owe their patrons a clear and established duty of care.
The British Columbia Case
The case in British Columbia involves alcohol and is complicated by several factors. First, the plaintiff, Calder McCormick, was underage at the time of the accident. Second, the car in which he was injured was driven by a friend, Ryan Plambeck, who perished in the accident. Third, the car was stolen from an adjacent lot, not from the defendants’ property.
McCormick was on the property of the defendants, Stephen and Lidia Pearson, for a party hosted by the Pearsons’ children. His lawsuit alleges that the defendants should have done more to supervise the party and ensure guests made it home safely. In order for the claim to be successful, McCormick’s personal injury lawyers must prove that the Pearsons owed their client a duty of care.
Existing Case Law
The court’s decision will likely be informed by two landmark social host liability cases: Childs v Desormeaux, a Supreme Court case decided in May 2006, and Wardak v Froom, an Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision from 2017.
In Childs v Desormeaux, the defendant became intoxicated at a BYOB (bring your own booze/beer) New Year’s celebration. He left the celebration, attempted to drive home, and caused a two-vehicle collision resulting in catastrophic injuries. The hosts of the party were found not to be liable.
In Wardak v Froom, an underage guest attended a birthday party at a neighbour’s house. He became intoxicated, left the party, got in his car, and suffered catastrophic injuries in a single vehicle accident. The defendants in this case were deemed to be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, due to the paternalistic relationship between the host and the guest.
Contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to Learn More
The Supreme Court of British Columbia’s decision in the McCormick case will add to existing case law on the subject of social host liability in Canada. If you or a member of your family have been injured in an impaired driving accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to learn how our experienced team can help.
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