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Mississauga Personal Injury Law Blog

Harsher penalties for car accidents causing harm to pedestrians

The Ontario Minister of Transportation, John Yakabuski, says irresponsible and unsafe driving continues to injure and kill pedestrians. He says the level of pedestrian vs. car accidents has become critical. For this reason, harsher penalties to ensure safer roads for all came into effect on Sept. 1, and he says these changes will convey a clear message of zero tolerance for dangerous driving.

Ontario drivers must allow pedestrians to cross the entire road at all crossings and only continue driving when pedestrians have reached the other side. This applies to marked crossings and those at which a crossing guard is present. Drivers who do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, school crossings and crossovers will also face increased penalties of four demerits and maximum fines of $1,000.

Number of distracted driving car accidents is concerning

Regardless of Ontario drivers' compliance with the rules of the road, they will always be vulnerable to the negligence of distracted drivers. Authorities say the number of fatalities in car accidents caused by distracted driving has doubled since 2000 -- based on 2013 collision data. Despite severe penalties, some drivers continue to text, talk on mobile phones, read or program a GPS, check maps and choose playlists. The rushed lives of many cause some drivers to apply makeup or shave while on their morning commutes to work.

Convictions on distracted driving charges can have severe consequences, not to mention the lives that can be lost. Road safety authorities advise drivers to switch their phones to silent mode before driving or switch it off. Some drivers put their phones in a gag, the glove compartment or the backseat. However, once it rings, many cannot resist answering, and reaching for it in those places is even more distracting than talking on the phone.

Can municipalities be sued after slips and falls on city streets?

Anyone who walks around the streets of cities in Ontario must take reasonable care to prevent slipping or tripping. However, if walking surfaces are hazardous, some of the responsibility to avoid slips and falls is carried by the municipality. Just like the occupiers of private or commercial premises, cities have a duty of care to the public.

Municipalities must ensure that sidewalks or pavements are safe by taking reasonable precautions. However, if a person falls on a pavement that forms a part of the premises of a business, the occupier or person who controls the business might be liable for injuries. The occupier is not necessarily the business owner.

OPP says transport trucks cause many fatal car accidents

The Ontario Provincial Police says a significant number of road accidents in the province involve commercial trucks. They say one in every five crashes involve large trucks, and with the considerable difference in size and weight, occupants of cars have very little chance of survival. Authorities say 330 people died between 2012 and 2016 in car accidents on the roads that OPP patrols -- most of whom were occupants of vehicles other than large trucks.

OPP further says data indicates that car vs. truck accidents frequently lead to catastrophic and even fatal injuries. They say that, of the 330 deceased crash victims, 286 were in smaller automobiles. Furthermore, traffic data analysis revealed that a significant percentage of crashes involving commercial vehicles were caused by defective transport trucks.

How does the adjudication work for CPP Disability claims?

Any Ontario residents who suffer an injury or illness that leaves them unable to return to work will likely have questions about their Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits. Before disability claims can be paid, the application must be approved. Understanding the requirements for eligibility might provide answers to some of the questions.

Upon receiving an application, the first thing CPP will check is whether the applicant's contributions during his or her working years were sufficient. Once that aspect is approved, the file will proceed to the medical adjudicators, who include trained nurses, specialists and CPP physicians. Based on the CPP Adjudication Framework, they will consider the application.

Car accidents: Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving

Although studies show that adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night, a significant number of people in Ontario and other provinces do not allow themselves the time to get enough sleep. When it comes to driving, the studies indicate that even missing one or two hours of the recommended hours doubles the risk of causing car accidents. In fact, researchers say drowsy driving can be compared to drunk driving.

The comparison indicated that a person who slept only four to five hours during the past 24 hours had a crash risk similar to that of a driver whose blood alcohol level is .08 per cent or 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. Those who had less than four hours of sleep were at a similar risk as drivers with blood alcohol levels of .12 to .15. This underscores the dangers of drowsy driving.

Proving distractions caused car accidents could be challenging

Drivers in Ontario break the law if they use any hand-held entertainment or communication devices while driving. Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and checking the screen of a cell phone could be a fatal mistake. Other driving distractions include drinking beverages, eating, operating a GPS, checking maps and choosing playlists. Any of these activities could distract a driver just enough to cause a crash.

Reportedly, data from 2013 indicates that distracted-driving accidents in Ontario, on average, were responsible for causing injuries every half hour. Authorities say a driver who focuses on the road is four times less likely to be in a collision than a distracted driver. However, hands-free or mounted devices are allowed, as long as they are not touched while driving. Penalties could be severe for violating the law -- ranging from demerits, fines, licence suspensions, and even jail time.

No drop in car accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians

Pedestrians and bicyclists in Mississauga and across Ontario will always be vulnerable when they share the roads with motorists. They have none of the protection that automobiles offer, and injuries could be catastrophic or even fatal. Car accidents that involve pedestrians and cyclists often lead to spinal cord trauma, fractured bones or traumatic brain injuries.

The Vision Zero plan that was approved by authorities in Toronto in 2016 aims to eliminate traffic fatalities entirely. However, a recent survey determined that more than half the respondents do not believe bike riders are safe on city streets. Reportedly, four Toronto bicyclists have already lost their lives in the first six months of 2018 -- causing concern because that equals the total number of bike-rider fatalities for 2017.

Which damages are recoverable after car accidents?

Being involved in crashes are typically traumatic experiences. Victims of car accidents in Ontario might have questions about their legal rights and for which damages they could pursue recovery. In cases in which the negligence of other parties caused collisions, the injured victims might have grounds to file personal injury lawsuits. The same applies to the surviving family members of a deceased victim of such an accident who can pursue wrongful death claims.

When seeking recovery through the Ontario civil justice system, both economic and noneconomic damages may be claimed. Financial losses typically include medical expenses, end-of-life costs, when applicable, and loss of past and future income. Noneconomic damages could include emotional trauma and mental distress, usually grouped under pain and suffering. These claims can also include depression, scars, activity limits and possible shortening of life.

CPP disability claims: Can a benefits recipient take a paid job?

For anyone in Ontario who suffered a debilitating injury that prevents him or her from returning to work, financial assistance will likely be a matter of necessity. That person might rely on benefits to survive, and he or she may also have to support a family. Navigating the process to get Canada Pension Plan disability claims approved is challenging, but once the person starts receiving benefits, there are specific rules to follow.

A recipient of CPP disability benefits may have questions about working a paid job to earn an additional income. This is allowed, but the amount that may be earned is limited. That limit for 2018 is $5,500, and if the amount is exceeded and not reported to CPP, some of the benefits received might have to be repaid.

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