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Personal injury lawyers in Toronto hear from seriously injured traffic accident victims on an almost-daily basis. More than 50 people died on Toronto roads every year from 2013 to 2018, with pedestrians accounting for the majority of victims. Even with an ambitious ‘Vision Zero’ road safety plan in place, the city has failed to meaningfully curb fatalities.
It’s tempting to assume that traffic accidents are a fact of life in the big city, that no amount of infrastructure investment or policing can prevent serious collisions in a bustling downtown core. Yet there is evidence from large cities around the world that fatal accidents can not only be reduced but eliminated.
Last month, CBC Nova Scotia compared road safety data in Halifax, a city of roughly 430,000, to numbers from Oslo, a city of 670,000. The Norwegian capital had zero pedestrian deaths in 2019; Halifax had at least four and Toronto had 42, according to the Toronto Star.
In fact, the country of Norway as a whole – population: 5.3 million – had just 110 traffic deaths, including 14 pedestrians, in 2019. Canada had 1,922 traffic deaths the year before, including 332 pedestrians.
Even accounting for the more than 30-million-person difference in population, Canadians were more than twice as likely to be killed in traffic accidents between 2014 and 2018 than Norwegians. However, this wasn’t always the case: in 1970, 550 Norwegians were killed on the road.
Norway, and Oslo in particular, have been able to drastically reduce traffic fatalities through a set of sweeping infrastructure and policy changes. The capital has closed certain streets to cars, creating a safe haven for pedestrians and cyclists. It has also removed parking spots and restricted motor vehicle access to the city centre. In areas where motorists and cyclists share the road, bicycle lanes are clearly demarcated by red paint. And speed limits in the inner city tend to be drastically lower – 30-40 km/h – than in many Canadian cities.
“When you reduce the number of cars that are driving in the city centre, you reduce the risk of collisions between cars, and other heavy vehicles, with pedestrians and bikers,” said Christoffer Solstad Steen of Trygg Trafikk, Norway’s road safety council, to the CBC.
“If you get hit by a car [at a speed] more than 40 [km/h], it reduces the possibility to survive a lot,” he added. “And of course, you give the drivers a lot more time to adapt or be aware of potential danger.”
Separated bike lanes and reduced speed limits are part of Toronto’s Vision Zero initiative, but many road safety activists and some personal injury lawyers believe the city needs to be more ambitious and aggressive. Many policies that are proven to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths would increase commute times and could impact the economy. Moreover, councillors that support these policies run the risk of angering constituents who rely on personal automobiles. It will take political courage to improve Vision Zero and enact the changes that are necessary to eliminate pedestrian deaths on Toronto’s streets.
If you’ve been injured in a traffic accident in Toronto, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our experienced team.
Image credit: Tydence Davis/Flickr
January 18 to 26 was Snowmobile Safety Week in Ontario, an event meant to celebrate snowmobiling while promoting safer riding. Unfortunately, the week was overshadowed by a tragic accident in Quebec in which six snowmobilers, including five French tourists, lost their lives. For every snowmobile accident lawyer in Ontario, the event was a reminder not only that snowmobiling is inherently risky, but also that most snowmobiling injuries can be avoided.
The accident on January 21 occurred when six snowmobilers – the five French nationals and their Canadian guide – plunged through thin ice near Lac-Saint-Jean in the Saguenay region. The party was traveling along an unmarked trail, the BBC reported.
In a separate event ten days later, six more snowmobilers survived a plunge through ice on Lake Magog, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. One man suffered severe hypothermia, according to CBC News Montreal. Friends of the group said the riders were unfamiliar with the area.
An experienced snowmobile accident lawyer can help you access compensation for injuries sustained in certain types of accidents. In some cases, they can also help secure benefits through an insurance provider.
The OPP recently shared detailed safety advice for snowmobilers in order to reduce serious injuries on the province’s trails. Here are a few of the most important tips:
Be Prepared: Being properly prepared for your snowmobile trip can help you avoid accidents and overcome challenges along the route. Before you head out, the OPP recommends filling your gas tank; checking weather, trail, and ice conditions; dressing appropriately; and always telling someone where you’re going, what route you’re taking, what your snowmobile looks like, and when you plan to return. It is safest to ride with a partner whenever possible.
The OPP also recommends packing a survival kit including a first aid kit; a GPS unit, map, and compass; matches or a lighter in a waterproof container; a knife, axe, or saw; ice picks; a flashlight; a whistle; high-energy food like nuts or granola bars; and an extra set of dry clothes. Finally, the police service recommends packing a mechanical kit including a spare spark plug and drive belt; a tow rope; a screwdriver, wrenches, and hammer; and an owner’s manual.
Drive Safely: Careful preparation can help you survive an accident; careful driving can help you avoid accidents altogether. The OPP recommends taking corners and hills carefully; always obeying speed limits and road/trail signs; using appropriate hand signals before slowing down, stopping, or turning; and exercising extra caution at car and railroad crossings.
Extra precautions are necessary in risky driving conditions, including driving at night and driving on ice. For nighttime driving, the OPP recommends reducing speed, wearing reflective clothing, and always using headlights. For driving on ice, the police service recommends wearing a buoyant snowmobile suit; avoiding slushy ice, weak ice, ice near moving water, and ice that has recently frozen or thawed; and always checking on ice conditions with your local snowmobile club. Avoid driving on unfamiliar lakes or rivers at all costs.
Contact an Experience Snowmobile Accident Lawyer
If you or someone you know is injured in a snowmobile accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation. An experienced snowmobile accident lawyer will assess your claim and offer guidance and advice as you pursue compensation.
Image credit: New Brunswick Tourism/Wikimedia Commons
In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) to publish the stories of traffic accident victims from around the world. Faces behind the figures: voices of road traffic crash victims and their families aimed to put a human face on statistics published in road safety reports.
“Statistical data are very important as they help understand the magnitude of the problem, assist in identifying areas for intervention and contribute to demonstrating if progress is made over time,” WHO explained in an accompanying report. “…Yet, reports don’t tell the full story. Behind each statistic there is a story of a father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister, grandchild, colleague, classmate or friend whose life was transformed by a road crash.”
Forty-two pedestrians were struck and killed in Toronto in 2019 – only one has been formally identified by police. Local road safety activists, including some personal injury lawyers, believe naming traffic accident victims would help improve driver behaviour and, ultimately, reduce serious injuries and fatalities.
‘It may be time for Toronto to adopt a new policy of identifying victims of traffic deaths after their families have been notified, just as is done for homicide victims,’ the Toronto Star’s editorial board wrote in a recent column. Families would presumably be able to request that their loved ones’ names not be publicized.
Naming victims of fatal traffic accidents is not unprecedented, or even unusual. The Ontario Provincial Police names crash victims; so does the City of New York Police Department. The RCMP named victims until quietly changing its policy in 2015. Earlier this year, Peel Region policy broke with tradition to name the teenage victim of a hit and run. It said doing so raised the accident’s profile and made the victim “more real.”
Personal injury lawyers believe that all traffic accident victims deserve to be seen as “real,” and the Star argues that naming victims will accomplish that purpose.
“Identifying victims of road deaths, just as the police do for homicide victims, is one more way to raise the profile of Toronto’s dangerous driving problem,” the editorial reads. “It helps to humanize the victims. Without names (or faces and the stories of their lives that follow) the public knows these victims as anonymous statistics, not as people who tragically lost their lives.”
“That does nothing to spur further political action or help change driving behaviour.”
Naming accident victims might sound like an extreme measure, but Toronto’s past road safety efforts have done little to reduce pedestrian deaths. This may be the time to embrace unconventional tactics.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team will assess the viability of your claim and clearly outline your legal options.
Image credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons
On New Year’s Day, the Government of Ontario made e-scooters legal under a five-year pilot project – but they may not be allowed in your city. In addition to laying out broad rules and requirements, the project allows municipalities to choose whether or not to permit e-scooters on their streets. Government reps believe the small motorized vehicles will ease downtown congestion and boost the economy; healthcare providers, safety advocates, and personal injury lawyers are more sceptical of the initiative.
E-scooter companies like Bird and Lime have operated in American cities since as early as 2017. Business has been booming; Bird was called one of the fastest-growing companies ever, and large ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft have launched their own e-scooter programs. But critics, including some personal injury lawyers, believe e-scooters put both riders and pedestrians at risk. We discussed some e-scooter safety issues in this blog.
Late last year, CBC News Windsor spoke with Dr. Robert Klever, medical director at the Detroit Medical Center, about e-scooters and the risks they pose. E-scooters have been available in Detroit since 2018, during which time at least 44 serious injuries have been recorded, mostly head traumas. Helmets aren’t mandatory in Detroit, nor are they mandatory for riders over 18 in Ontario, although participating municipalities may choose to impose stricter helmet laws.
“The vast majority of the injuries that we’ve been seeing have been upper extremity injuries,” Dr. Klever said. “Probably the biggest reason we’re seeing these is due to the lack of familiarity with the device.”
At least eight deaths have been linked to e-scooters in the United States since 2017, according to Consumer Reports.
The Province of Ontario has imposed the following regulations under the pilot project:
It will be up to municipalities to pass bylaws allowing e-scooters and laying out where they can be used, where they should be parked, and how they will be managed. With these regulations in place, the province is confident the pilot project will improve consumer choice and attract business.
“Ontario’s five-year e-scooter pilot will give people a new, clean and green way to get from point A to point B in their communities,” said Vijay Thanigasalam, Parliamentary Assistant to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, in a release. “This pilot is another way that our government is giving consumers more choice and making Ontario open for business.”
“Ontario’s e-scooter pilot will help businesses expand, enrich local economies and offer people more options to get around safely,” added minister Mulroney.
Enthusiasm and Concern
Municipalities like Windsor are carefully considering the project. In a blog post, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens urged city council to embrace the opportunity.
“They’re efficient. Affordable. Convenient. Fun. There is a lot to like about e-scooters,” he wrote. “This pilot gives residents more choice and a new way to get around. It also gives the city the opportunity to monitor the program and ensure we safely integrate e-scooters on our roadways.”
But David Lepofsky, chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, thinks the government’s safeguards are woefully insufficient. He would prefer to see riders licensed and insured and thinks e-scooters left in public spaces should be confiscated. He also believes e-scooter companies should be liable for injuries caused by their vehicles.
“As a blind person, I want to walk safely in public,” Lepofsky told the Toronto Sun. “I fear an inattentive, unlicensed, uninsured person, as young as 16, with no training, experience or knowledge of the rules of the road, silently rocketing towards me at 24 kilometres per hour on an e-scooter.”
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The arrival of e-scooters on public streets is inevitable, and the province’s rules and regulations may not be sufficient to prevent injuries. If you are injured in an accident involving an e-scooter, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may be entitled to compensation.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Late last year, the Ontario Court of Appeal delivered a decision in Tomec v. Economical Mutual Insurance Company that may benefit certain catastrophically impaired accident victims and the personal injury lawyers that represent them. A December article from Law Times explains the specifics of the case and details how the decision could affect Ontario’s personal injury system.
Sotira Tomec was injured in 2008 when she was struck by a car while walking. Her injuries required hospitalization and surgery, after which she used housekeeping and attendant care benefits available to non-catastrophically impaired injury victims. The benefits were payable for 104 weeks, or two years; when those benefits expired, in 2010, further benefits were denied by the insurer.
Unfortunately, Tomec’s condition continued to decline; by 2015, a doctor concluded that she was catastrophically impaired. Tomec’s team of personal injury lawyers sought further housekeeping and attendant care benefits available to catastrophically impaired accident victims; Economical refused, saying that the time limit for claiming those benefits had passed.
The province’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which handles accident benefits disputes, and the Divisional Court sided with the insurer. “The legislature thought it important to provide a reasonable period, after which the insurer’s obligation would be discharged, regardless of whether meritorious claims may be discovered,” their decision read, according to Law Times.
In other words, prior to the Court of Appeal’s decision, claimants whose injury symptoms continued to worsen were put in a lose-lose situation. The hard time limit for claiming catastrophic impairment made it nearly impossible to access necessary benefits.
‘Either wait until a catastrophically impaired diagnosis is confirmed, and be denied because time ran out; or, apply for benefits before time runs out and be denied due to lack of CAT statues,’ the Law Times article explains.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling overturned the decisions by the LAT and Divisional Court. Justice C. William Hourigan wrote that the hard time limit forced Tomec into a “Kafkaesque regulatory regime.”
“A hard limitation period would bar the appellant from claiming enhanced benefits, before she was even eligible for those benefits,” he continued. Justices Mary Lou Benotto and J. Michael Fairburn agreed.
The decision will ensure that time limits for applying for accident benefits are based on discoverability, not the moment of the accident. This will ensure personal injury lawyers don’t rush to apply for catastrophic accident benefits for clients who haven’t been diagnosed. It may also make Ontario’s personal injury system more efficient and reduce costs all around.
If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured in an accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. Our experienced team of accident and injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options and provide guidance as you embark on your road to recovery.
Anyone can be hurt in an accident, including people under the age of 18 and individuals who are mentally incapable of making important decisions about their wellbeing. Injury victims who fall into these categories are known as ‘parties under a disability’; when a person under a disability wants to file a lawsuit, decisions on their behalf must be made by a ‘Litigation Guardian.’ The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association blog recently shared important information about this key role in the province’s legal system – read on for more information.
Litigation guardians are more common in personal injury cases than in other areas of law. It is not uncommon for severely injured accident victims – brain injury survivors, for example – to require special representation. It is the job of a litigation guardian to act in the best interest of the plaintiff. This includes providing instruction to and making vital decisions with the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer. For example, it falls on the litigation guardian to decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer, whether to take a case to court, or whether to abandon a claim.
In many cases, litigation guardians are chosen more or less by default. When a child has been injured, the responsibility generally falls to his or her parents. When an adult is injured, their spouse or parent will often assume responsibility. The role may also be accepted by an attorney under a power of attorney. In situations where the injury victim has no legal guardian ready to accept the role, any person over the age of 18 who is not themselves a party under a disability may step into the role. A Litigation Guardian must sign an Affidavit confirming the following:
In rare cases where nobody is willing or able to accept the role of litigation guardian, the Ontario Children’s Lawyer or Public Guardian and Trustee may be appointed.
Injuries can happen to anyone, but not every victim is capable of pursuing fair and reasonable compensation. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer and a responsible litigation guardian, every person under a disability can be represented in Ontario’s civil courts system. For information about how you can access compensation for your injuries, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Toronto police were criticized in late November for handing out reflective armbands to seniors at a road safety event. Some seniors’ advocates, road safety experts, and even personal injury lawyers criticized the initiative as a form of victim-blaming. The onus for preventing injuries to vulnerable road users, they said, should be on dangerous drivers, not pedestrians.
Assigning blame in accidents involving vulnerable road users can be challenging and controversial. Though there are no doubt incidents where pedestrians or cyclists are fully responsible for their injuries, drivers appear more likely to be at fault. A report prepared for Toronto’s Vision Zero program showed that distracted or dangerous driving was behind more than half of all crashes causing serious injuries or fatalities. A reflective armband would do very little to prevent those events.
Complicating matters further is the fact that 51 per cent of the more than 2,700 pedestrians and cyclists who were killed or seriously injured on Toronto roads between 2007 and 2018 were struck in broad daylight with clear visibility. Once again, reflective armbands wouldn’t have helped.
Of course, another 1,300 vulnerable road users were also killed or seriously injured between dusk and dawn or in rainy, snowy, or foggy weather – all situations where highly-visible clothing might have made a difference.
“Visibility is a key contributing factor in many pedestrian, road and traffic incidents,” Toronto police Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told the Toronto Star. “We’ll continue to do all we can to protect our communities and eliminate deaths and injuries on our roads.”
Most personal injury lawyers agree that all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, have a responsibility to promote safety and avoid dangerous behaviour. But asking pedestrians to wear brightly coloured clothing or reflective armbands in the course of their normal lives is a little extreme. When Toronto city councilor James Pasternak tweeted his support for the armband program, he was flooded with angry and indignant responses.
“Wearing high visibility gear to protect yourself from negligent and reckless drivers is like asking people to wear fire-retardant pyjamas to bed just in case there’s a fire because someone was irresponsible with fire codes & safety,” one user quipped.
The most effective ways to reduce serious pedestrian injuries are to implement road design changes and bring down speed limits, both of which were proposed in Toronto’s Vision Zero strategy. Unfortunately, Vision Zero has not yet meaningfully reduced serious accidents – the Star estimates that there have been 34 pedestrian deaths already in Toronto this year.
If you or a member of your family have been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Impaired driving fatalities have declined across North America for several years. Distracted driving fatalities, meanwhile, have increased. Both events remain major points of emphasis for law enforcement officials and personal injury lawyers alike; together, they account for many of the fatal accidents on Canadian roads.
Policymakers rely on data and insights from across Canada to identify trends and establish strategies to reduce impaired and distracted driving. Unfortunately, the data at their disposal is incomplete. According to CBC Investigates, the BC Coroners Service has failed for several years to share important data on impaired and distracted driving deaths in the province. It has also failed to share data on drownings.
“We’ve been trying to get that data because it represents anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent of the population,” said Steve Brown of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) to the CBC. “We’re doing everything at our end. We’ve filled out all the research agreements and that type of thing.”
British Columbia’s failure to deliver these numbers concerns Ontario personal injury lawyers because it prevents accurate analysis of road safety laws. Without understanding the impaired and distracted driving tendencies of up to 15 per cent of the population, it is impossible to understand the tendencies of the country as a whole.
Even some of the more forthcoming provinces have only provided statistics through 2016. In other words, we can’t be exactly sure of what is happening on our roads.
“It’s appalling,” said Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada CEO Andrew Murie, also to the CBC. “We’re almost [in] 2020 and we’re still working off 2014 [numbers]. We’ve had historical events in this country, like the legalization of recreational cannabis, with the big issues and debate around driving and what effect it’s going to have, and we’ve got nothing. Nothing.”
Personal injury lawyers are acutely aware of the dangers posed by impaired and distracted driving. So, too, are lawmakers; however, lawmakers’ decisions must be based on a robust understanding of what causes fatalities on Canadian roads. Without accurate and up-to-date data, that understanding will continue to be incomplete.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team will assess your claim, help you file necessary insurance documents, connect you with leading medical and rehabilitative treatment providers, and represent you throughout the legal process. Reach out today to learn more.
The City of Toronto has a persistent road safety problem, despite continuing and vocal public concern and the implementation of the ambitious Vision Zero road safety plan. Toronto car accident lawyers have witnessed the issue firsthand: between 2013 and 2018, collisions in the city rose from roughly 55,000 a year to roughly 80,000 a year. In 2019 alone, 48 road users have been killed, including 35 vulnerable road users (cyclists and pedestrians).
Many Toronto car accident lawyers supported the implementation of Vision Zero. The program, which originated in Sweden, has helped cities like New York reduce fatalities to record lows. It is, by nature, ambitious – the most successful Vision Zero strategies include reduced speed limits, redesigned roads, and other radical initiatives. Toronto’s version is less ambitious and has been generally ineffective.
Last month, police Chief Mark Saunders announced the creation of a new eight-person traffic enforcement task force. The team, which will hit the streets in early 2020, has a mandate to protect pedestrians and reduce dangerous driving – both Vision Zero goals.
City councilors and concerned citizens expressed support for the initiative to CBC Toronto.
“[Drivers] think there’s not going to be any consequence and they’re right,” said Toronto-St. Paul’s councilor Josh Matlow. “There is virtually no police presence in those neighbourhoods. And residents are saying enough is enough. If they think they could get caught that day, then they may change their behaviour. And that’s what we’re after.”
Heather Sim, whose father, Gary, was killed by a distracted driver in 2017, agreed.
“This is something we’ve known we’ve needed for a while now. So it’s about time,” she said. “It’s not going to fix everything but they finally admitted and recognized that there is a problem and something needs to be done.”
A similar police team, the Strategic Targeted Enforcement Measures force, roamed Toronto’s streets from 2003 to 2012. The unit, according to a report presented to the Toronto Police Services Board, was “highly visible, pro-active and focused on high collision locations, community safety zones, high speed areas and other locations where the public was at risk.” Collisions in the city decreased 24 per cent during their tenure.
Additional law enforcement wasn’t part of the initial Vision Zero plan, but if the new task force is as effective as the one that was dissolved in 2012, it may help the city inch closer to its goals.
Image credit: PvOberstein/Wikimedia Commons
Over the last several months, Canadian health experts and personal injury lawyers have become increasingly concerned about the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young Canadians. Research indicates that teen vaping rates have doubled since e-cigarettes were legalized in the country, and as many as 40 per cent of Canadian 16- to 19-year-olds have tried vaping with an e-cigarette at least once.
Vaping industry stakeholders insist that current tobacco users, not young people and non-smokers, are their target demographic. While e-cigarettes do contain nicotine – sometimes in alarmingly high doses – they do not involve tobacco leaf combustion and are generally seen as safer than tobacco cigarettes. In this way, they may be effective in helping current tobacco smokers quit.
However, as a recent Globe and Mail editorial articulates, JUUL’s marketing and advertising initiatives have little to do with helping smokers transition away from cigarettes. Instead, they appear to court a new generation of nicotine users with fun, teen-friendly flavours like bubblegum and birthday cake; endorsements from hip social media influencers; and little to say about the product’s potential risks.
“The American company JUUL, which makes the world’s most popular e-cigarettes, had US$2-billion in sales last year,” the editorial reads. “Its product was not designed to be a medical prophylactic; it was designed to be a cool device that provides a big nicotine hit.”
As personal injury lawyers call for increased regulation, vaping industry spokespeople claim restrictive e-cigarette laws would limit access for former tobacco smokers – and possibly even push them to the black market. But the risk of a generation of addicts is far more pressing, especially considering our limited understanding of nicotine’s impact on the adolescent brain.
In British Columbia, lawmakers recently proposed a series of vaping and e-cigarette regulations, including a substantial sales tax hike on vaping products, a cap on nicotine content, a ban on certain youth-friendly flavours, and a halt to advertising in youth-friendly locations. Numerous other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States are expected to follow suit. But it could be too late – through inappropriate marketing and deceptive messaging, JUUL has already gained a foothold with young, impressionable users.
If you currently JUUL or have used a JUUL in the past, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers is accepting clients for a mass tort lawsuit against Juul Labs, the manufacturer of JUUL e-cigarettes. Contact us for more information or fill out a free and confidential case review today.