Ontario Province implements revised Traffic Laws for the New Year Part II – Fines, Penalties, and additional Provisions

A number of sections in Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act were revised by virtue of Bill 31, the “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act”.  For instance, the previous range for fine amounts was $60 to $500.  Those amounts will be increased to between $300 and $1,000 and offenders will be given 3 demerit points based on each offense.

More importantly, there are 5 new traffic laws provided for in Bill 31 that could have an impact on your driving.  While the law itself is very complex and tedious, most personal injury lawyers in Cambridge, Brantford, or Hamilton can interpret it for you if you have been injured and intend on filing a claim.

Alcohol and Drugs

Under the new law, individuals driving under the influence of drugs will be fined and penalized the same way that drunk drivers are.  Your license could be suspended up to 90 days and your vehicle could be impounded for up to a week.

Distracted Drivers

Drivers who are caught looking at, talking on, or texting on their cell phones are going to be facing larger fine amounts and extra demerit points.  As of Sept. 1st, 2015, individuals guilty of distracted driving will pay a $490 fine and receive 3 demerit points.  In addition to this, individuals who have G1 or G2 licenses could see them suspended.

Passing Cyclists

While motorists are now required to provide cyclists with a minimum space of 1 meter between them and their vehicle, the amount of the fine for violating this law has yet to be determined.  In addition to this, if you fail to check for cyclists before opening your vehicle door and you do so in their path, you could be facing a fine of up to $365 and will receive 3 demerit points when convicted. However, it would prevent injuries to the cyclists if proper caution is maintained.

Pedestrian Crossovers

Whenever pedestrians are crossing streets at crosswalks or school zones, drivers must now ensure that they have completely crossed before proceeding.  Furthermore, drivers who have outstanding fines may not be able to get a renewal sticker for their vehicle’s license plates.  According to the Ministry of Transportation, 50% of all fatalities involving pedestrians occurred in crossovers at intersections. This is a high statistical figure which needs to be reduced for safer crossovers.

The “Move Over” Law

Whenever you see an emergency vehicle stopped with its blue and red lights flashing, you are required to decrease your speed and move over into the adjacent lane.  This law also applies to tow trucks that have pulled over to assist a motorist and their amber lights are flashing.  If you break this law, you will be fined $490 and get 3 demerit points.

If you have additional questions regarding the “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act”, most personal injury lawyers in Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton can assist you.

Ontario Province implements revised Traffic Laws for the New Year Part I – Legislation that could save Lives in Ontario Province

It’s no secret that the number of motor vehicle accidents have been steadily increasing on an annual basis in communities like Brantford, Cambridge, and Hamilton.  While this has been a common occurrence, this is the Government’s latest attempt at preventing catastrophic injuries and fatalities from occurring on Provincial roadways.  Known as the “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act”, Bill 31 or the Transport Statute Law Amendment Act was passed on the 2nd of June, 2015 and went into effect on January 1st, 2016.

Hypothesis of the 2010 Report

Since the end of 2010, the focal point has been on pedestrian safety in the greater Toronto area ever since a series of collisions that occurred.  There were 14 recorded fatalities in the GTA in one month alone and another 9 that occurred in the surrounding areas during that time frame.  Furthermore, there was an incredibly high number of fatalities involving pedestrians alone.  As a result the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services researched the issue of increasing fatalities.

The results of their study were published in a report entitled the “Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario Pedestrian Death Review:  A Review of All Accidental Pedestrian Deaths in Ontario from January 1st, 2010 to December 31st 2010.”  The study sought to disprove or prove a 4-part hypothesis as follows:

  • Pedestrian fatalities are more during the months of November through March.
  • Pedestrian fatalities are higher when motorists or pedestrians are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Pedestrian fatalities happen when the motorist or pedestrian is using their cell phone or some other electronic entertainment device.
  • In most cases, the pedestrian fatalities that occurred this past calendar year could have been prevented.

It is included in the revised law provisions that will keep cyclists and tow truck drivers’ safe, when they are stopped or traveling along the side of Provincial roadways and streets. This is an important consideration for reducing accidents on the highways.

Eye-Opening Statistics

To say the least, the results of this research study revealed some shocking statistics.  While the first hypothesis listed above was confirmed, other results revealed that:

 

  • 55% of those fatalities occurred in the darker months of January through March and 57% occurred during dusk and dark
  • 28% of pedestrian fatalities were attributed to alcohol, drugs, or a combination while 7% of the drivers involved in pedestrian fatalities were impaired in similar fashion
  • 20% of pedestrians that were fatally injured were distracted

Ironically inclement weather and poor visibility were not major contributory factors as you would expect.  In fact, 81% of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on dry surfaces.  Part II continues with information regarding fines and penalties as well as other provisions of the “Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act.” which will help in lowering the number of automobile accidents.

How are General, Special, and Punitive Damages calculated in a Personal Injury Case?

In a prior post entitled “What Types of Damages can I recover in My Personal Injury Lawsuit?” it was explained how general, special, and punitive damages differed from one another.  When personal injury lawyers prepare for lawsuits in the communities of Brantford and Hamilton, they will usually calculate what these damages are worth in order to place a value of your case and claim.  Consequently, a common question that many personal injury lawyers have to answer is “How are these damages calculated?” The following will give you a better idea of how the process works.

General or Non-Economic Damages

While the insurance companies and personal injury lawyers may have their own formulas for calculating damages, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determine those amounts.  Furthermore, when the plaintiff has experience a severe trauma such as a catastrophic injury, judges and juries will usually award larger compensation amounts to the victim. Usually the amount is fixed based on the level of injuries that the victim has sustained.

As an example, let’s assume that the injuries you sustained in an accident were minor and that you were released from the hospital within a few days, the jury would be reluctant to consider any pain and suffering damages.  Conversely, if you were badly burned and you had to have months of rehabilitative therapy and numerous surgeries, you would most likely be awarded damages for pain and suffering.

Special or Economic Damages

The calculation of special damages will usually involve a number of different factors such as lost earning capacity, lost wages (past and future), medical expenses (past and future), property damage, and so on.  For instance, if you were injured in an auto accident, you would calculate these damages based on the damage to your vehicle, medical expenses you paid for treatment of your injuries, and the wages you lost because you had to miss work while you were recovering.  Like general damages, special damages are intended to make you economically whole again.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages occasionally play a role in some personal injury cases in Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton.  The intention of punitive damages is to punish the offending party and discourage them from ever committing that type of offense in the future.  When calculating the amount of punitive damages to be awarded, some guidelines that are usually followed include:

·         Punitive damages usually accompany general and special damages.  They are never awarded by themselves.

·         The amount of punitive damages cannot be greater than 4 times that of general and special damages.  In other words, they must be proportionate.

·         The behavior of the defendant was deemed more than just negligent.  In other words, they exhibited a total disregard for the care and safety of the other individual.

If you are still unclear as to how these different types of damages are awarded, you should have your personal injury lawyer interpret this for you.

Can Family Members sue for Injuries to a Loved One?

In Ontario Province, the Family Law Act enables individuals to sue for damages when another family member has been killed or seriously injured in an accident.  This law applies to parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren, and brothers and sisters.  However, they can only sue if the accident resulted from another individual’s careless or reckless actions or behavior. Thus, even if you consider the death as a result of it, discuss it with the lawyer before filing a claim.

In cases involving the death of a loved one, the other family members who are allowed to sue for damages can only do so provided the deceased would’ve been entitled to compensation had they lived.  As you can clearly see, cases of this nature can be very complex and they oftentimes require the experience of a Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton lawyer that specializes in personal injury law.

Interpreting the Family Law Act

According to the Family Law Act, Section 61(2), family members can sue for damages for the following:

  • Actual expenses that were incurred for the deceased or injured person’s benefit
  • Actual funeral expenses for the deceased that were reasonably incurred
  • Allowances made for actual travel expenses incurred while visiting the injury victim during medical care and treatment
  • Claimant provided housekeeping, nursing, and other services for the injured family member, a reasonable allowance for the value of said services or loss of income
  • Compensation the claimant might reasonably expect for loss of care, companionship, and guidance had the death of the person or the injuries to them had not occurred

When a loved one has perished in an accident or been seriously injured, the surviving family members are already overwhelmed emotionally and the last thing they need to stress over or worry about is the interpretation of the law.  One of the primary benefits of retaining the services of a Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton personal injury law is that they can help you understand the law and guide you through the legal process.

Damages available to the Claimant

There are two forms of damages that claimants can recover in personal injury cases when they are suing under the guise of the Family Law Act:

  • General damages – refers to compensation that reimburses the injured party for the intangible injuries that they have sustained as a result of the accident.  They are also known as non-pecuniary damages.

Special damages – refers to compensation that reimburses the injured party for expenses that were incurred as a result of their injuries.  They are also known as pecuniary damages.

No amount of money can ever replace the loss of companionship and the emotional bond that has developed over the years when a loved one perishes in an accident.  Unfortunately, that is the only remedy that the courts can provide in these situations.  If any of the above applies to you, you should consider discussing your needs with a Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton personal injury lawyer.

5 Tips for Maximizing Your Personal Injury Settlement

While personal injury cases in Brantford, Cambridge, or Hamilton as well as other communities throughout the Greater Toronto Area are oftentimes complex, there are a number of tips for maximizing your recovery in the settlement process to be aware of.  Though your lawyer would try his/her best to do that, the following tips could be extremely helpful when it comes to maximizing your personal injury settlement.

If you haven’t retained a personal injury lawyer, now is the time to do so – it is very difficult to get the settlement you have in mind if you haven’t retained a personal injury lawyer to represent you and your case.  Not only do they have the experience and the expertise necessary to winning your case, they will ensure that your rights to fair and reasonable compensation are protected. Having a professional in your corner that can understand the law is essential.

Go into negotiations knowing how much you will settle for – naturally you will have an ideal amount in mind but you will probably have to decrease that slightly in order for the insurance company to settle with you.  Go with the amount that your lawyer feels your case is worthy but have a bottom line amount (the lowest amount your will settle for) in mind.  Only you and your lawyer should know what your bottom line amount is.  Do not share this figure with the insurance company adjuster.

Emphasize the emotional points that favor your case – be sure to mention any emotional strong points that support your settlement amount.  If you sent the adjuster a letter with photos of your injuries or your badly damaged vehicle, be sure that you refer to these during negotiations.  While it is almost impossible to place a dollar value on these emotional points, they can be helpful in getting the settlement you deserve.

Never accept the first offer – it goes without saying that the adjuster is going to low ball your settlement amount and while you may be anxious to settle, you could be cheating yourself out of thousands of dollars by jumping at the first offer.  However, keep in mind that you already know what your claim is worth based on your lawyer’s calculations.  If the adjuster’s initial offer is reasonable but still too low, be prepared to respond with a counteroffer immediately.

Make the adjuster validate a low offer – if the initial offer is so low that you know it’s a negotiating tactic or that they are testing you to see if you really know the value of your case, tell him or her to justify the amount they offered.  Keep notes during the course of the conversation.  Depending on their reasons for offering the amount they did, you may want to lower your demand amount slightly.

Once you and the insurance company adjuster have agreed on a settlement amount, put everything in writing in a confirmation letter to the adjuster.