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Ontario seeks to prevent fatal distracted driving car accidents

Road safety authorities in Ontario recently announced one of the New Year’s resolutions for the province — putting a stop to texting while driving. Distracted riving is reportedly the primary cause of fatal car accidents in Ontario. Law enforcement authorities intend to stop this trend by adopting an approach similar to the steps they took to significantly reduce drinking and driving fatalities in the province. As of Jan. 1, 2019 penalties are more severe. The first conviction for distracted driving charges could cost the driver up to $1,000 in fines, along with three demerit points and a license suspension for three days. If that is not enough to change a driver’s ways, subsequent convictions will have even harsher punishments. For second and third convictions, maximum fines will be $2,000 and $3,000, respectively, and there will be six demerit points. Those with second convictions will not be allowed to drive for seven days, and the suspension for a third conviction will be 30 days. To prevent novice drivers from getting into the habit of texting and driving, they will get 30 and 90-day suspensions for first and second convictions, and any new driver will have his or her license cancelled upon a third distracted driving conviction. Sadly, many Ontario families have to deal with the loss of loved ones in car accidents caused by distracted driving. Although no amount of money can ever make up for such a loss, a monetary judgment in a successfully presented wrongful death civil lawsuit could significantly ease the financial burden. Those facing these challenging issues typically find the support and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney invaluable.

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Cannabis impaired truckers can cause catastrophic car accidents

With the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Ontario and the rest of Canada, lawmakers are extremely busy with modifying existing laws and drafting new laws to govern marijuana use. The authorities in charge of road safety are making haste with new legislation to control marijuana-impaired driving. Many rules are still evolving, but commercial truck drivers already face more stringent tests to prevent increased numbers of car accidents involving big rigs. Although the federal government has set testing standards, police authority guidelines, and limits for criminal penalties and charges, Ontario has set additional limits for truckers in the province, including a zero-tolerance rule for cannabis impairment. Authorities say commercial trucks are seen as workplaces where neither alcohol nor marijuana is allowed. Although related laws are still evolving, lawmakers want to strengthen the rights of roadside officers. For that reason, law enforcement no longer needs probable cause, like witnessing a driver with dilated pupils or slurred speech, to order a blood test. Furthermore, federal law limits THC content in a trucker’s blood at between two nanograms and five nanograms per millilitre of blood, while Ontario has effectively banned any presence of THC or alcohol in the blood of commercial truck drivers. However, at this time, there is still no guidelines as to the amount of cannabis that will cause an over-limit level of the active ingredient, THC. When cars and big rigs collide, the size and weight difference between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles typically leave occupants of cars worse off. Injured victims or the surviving family members of those who lost their lives in such car accidents can pursue financial relief. An experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer might best navigate this complicated legal process.

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What is a tort claim, and what does it involve?

Anyone in Ontario can pursue a civil lawsuit against a person or entity that caused him or her injuries. Such a claim is known as a personal injury, or tort claim. It requires the victim, or plaintiff, to prove to the court that the defendant was negligent and at least partially at fault for causing the car accident or another incident that led to personal injury. Tort claims are typically filed in provincial court. Personal injury lawsuits can involve automobile collisions or other accidents; premises liability claims often follow slip-and-fall accidents; products liability claims address injuries caused by defective products; and medical malpractice lawsuits involve negligence in the health care field. The burden of proof with respect to these claims is on the plaintiff, and tort claims could take months or even years to finalize. Multiple parties can be named as defendants; for instance, in cases products liability claims, the entire consumer supply chain could be sued. The first step in a tort claim is to file the complaint, a pleading that details the claim and the remedy sought in the court, to which the defendant can file a defence statement. This is followed by the discovery process that allows the respective parties access to each other’s evidence. The final step is the trial during which the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of care and was negligent in a manner that caused personal injury. This is a complicated field of the law, and these basic notes do not include all the legal intricacies that make any tort claim challenging to navigate. For this reason, personal injury victims in Ontario typically utilize the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Legal counsel can first assess the viability of a claim, and then provide support and guidance throughout ensuing legal proceedings.

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