Ontario’s Road Laws Fail to Protect Injured Motorcyclists

What may appear to be a “minor fender bender” between two cars can translate to catastrophic injury to cyclists, pedestrians or motorcyclists unfortunate enough to find themselves on the receiving end of such a crash.

While pedestrians and cyclists in Ontario are usually perceived as the most vulnerable group of road users, motorcyclists also face significant risk yet may face further legal battles that cyclists or pedestrians don’t.

For example, when cyclists or pedestrians are involved in collisions with other motor vehicles in Ontario, the operator of the motor vehicle must prove that he/she was not at fault. This is commonly referred to the “reverse onus” on the driver whose vehicle strikes a cyclist or pedestrian. In other words, the operator of the motor vehicle is presumed to be at fault unless they can prove otherwise.

Injured motorcyclists on the other hand cannot avail themselves of this “reverse onus” even though it is often the motorcyclists themselves (and their passengers) who pay the ultimate price because of the carelessness of other drivers.

For example between 2005 and 2014, the O.P.P. conducted a study , which found 279 motorcycle rider deaths. In 89 of these fatalities, consisting of 74 motorcycle operators and 15 motorcycle passengers, the victims did “nothing wrong”.

The sad reality is that motorcyclists are often seen as being “speed demons” and authors of their own misfortune. This poses additional barriers to injured riders who will often be accused of speeding, disobeying the rules of the road and/or causing the accident.  

Juries are unpredictable and insurance companies may pitch the narrative that you as the injured rider are at fault because you were on the motorcycle. The optics of being on a motorcycle shouldn’t but sadly CAN affect the outcome of your case as an injured motorcyclist.

As a motorcyclist, it is extremely important to anticipate these arguments being made against you if you are involved in a crash by no fault of your own. Having a motorcycle dashcam to record your road trips is a great way to capture the incident and have your side of the story documented in real time.

The law creates another uphill battle for injured motorcyclists. The last thing an injured motorcyclist needs is another hill to climb.

Planning For a Wedding or Trial Requires Commitment!

 

 

Planning for a trial is a lot like planning for your wedding day. There are just so many details to keep track of that it is hard to know where to begin. Both big days are usually booked well in advance and require meticulous planning and preparation. Both involve witness participation, which play a key role. Lastly, both events will involve inevitable arguing—either with the opposing lawyer or with your in-laws. Of course, there are always people present we don’t want to let down— a jury of our peers and/or our wonderful family and friends.

Not that I’m a wedding planner but if I were, I’d recommend you secure the venue, book the band and then hire your favourite photographer STAT. Time is of the essence! Why would preparing for trial be any different? All the key steps need to be taken ASAP!

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ONTARIO’S AUTO LOTTO: DON’T EXPECT AN EASY JACKPOT FOR PAIN AND SUFFERING

 

 

Today in Ontario, it is more difficult than ever to pursue a claim for damages following a motor vehicle accident.

I have spoken with other experienced injury lawyers who have agreed with me that if they could start fresh in law, they wouldn’t choose personal injury as their primary area of practice.

So why is it so difficult to advance a claim these days?

For one, the insurance legislation has been very unfavourable towards accident victims. To be entitled to money for ‘pain and suffering’, the test to meet requires the claimant to prove a serious impairment of an important physical, mental or psychological function” a.k.a. the “threshold test”. This test does NOT have to be met in injury cases other than car accidents. It is no wonder why insurers are all over this “threshold test” in auto claims and often take the view that “threshold will not be met”. This piece of legislation is a true gift from the politician gods to the insurers.

This gift comes with another little benefit called the “deductible”. This can be thought of as the beautiful red ribbon tied around the gift holding it all together. The deductible is the amount that gets deducted from any pain and suffering award under $100,000.00 and increases with inflation, which would make it approximately $37,000.00 today. So, in other words, if a claimant is so lucky enough to meet threshold, whatever they are awarded under $100,000.00 is subject to a deductible of $37,000.00. This means that if you’re awarded less than $37,000.00 for pain and suffering, you get ZERO.

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Another Slap in the Face for Ontario’s Injured Victims

 

On March 8, 2017, Ontario M.P.P. Mike Colle introduced a Private Member’s Bill, “An Act to amend the Law Society Act and the Solicitors Act with respect to matters related to personal injury claims and client agreements in legislature” (Bill 103).

Bill 103 set out a number of prohibitive measures including the capping of all new contingency fee agreements to no more than 15% of the award, a ban on all referral fees in personal injury matters and requiring Law Society approval of personal injury advertising.

While the purpose of the Bill may be well intentioned, it is very misguided and will only serve to diminish access to justice to Ontario’s most vulnerable. Read more

The Initial Lawyer’s Meeting: What can I expect after my injury?

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Following a serious personal injury, seeking legal advice is never a bad idea. To some, the very thought about visiting the lawyer’s office is more intimidating than the injury itself.

The initial visit to the lawyer’s office should not be as intimidating as you think. It’s a chance for the lawyer to get a full understanding about your situation. This involves a number of common questions you can expect.

Below is a general guideline for understanding some key areas your lawyer will likely explore to get the information from you needed to understand your personal injury case. Read more

The Importance of Honest Income Reporting

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Honest reporting doesn’t just apply to journalists. It also applies to those pursuing a claim for income loss.

While fudging your reported income might save you from being taxed, it can create problems later on if you are injured in an accident and want to rely on your income tax returns to prove your pre-accident earning capacity. Read more

Stop Feeling Guilty About Suing The Person Who Injured You

 

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In my line of work as a personal injury lawyer, I am often surprised at the number of people who express sheer guilt in pursuing a personal injury claim. I often hear people say, “I feel funny about doing this” or “I’m not in a wheelchair so maybe it’s not worth it”. Is it the polite Canadian in us?

Yes folks, it is ACTUALLY true that good honest people can bring personal injury claims that are not paraplegics. It could be your grandmother, brother or next-door neighbor. Lets not be too quick to pass judgment. Leave that to the courts. Read more

TRAUMA SEASON IS HERE: KEEP SAFE & AVOID INJURIES

summer-drivingWith the deep freeze of winter finally behind us, the anticipation of summer being around the corner is causing people to get outside in droves to enjoy the sites and sounds of our city streets and neighborhoods. Joggers, bikers, skateboarder and other pedestrians and motorists are beginning to emerge in full force sharing the roads and sidewalks. Welcome to “Trauma Season”.

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WEARABLE TECH ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION

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With the Apple Watch release date just around corner, it is clear that the excitement, curiosity and growing popularity of wearable technology is bound to continue. This will also have a significant impact on the future of personal injury claims. So much of what we do is now recorded in digital form.

In today’s high tech world, the advent of wearable technology and the digitization of everything we touch, see and do leaves behind a trail of “digital handprints” and “digital fingerprints” to be tracked. Read more

PITFALLS, POTHOLES AND FALLING CONCRETE: PROBLEMS WITH THE MINIMUM MAINTENANCE STANDARDS

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With one of the coldest months on record finally behind us, Ontarians are getting a knack for braving subzero temperatures this winter. Unfortunately, Ontarians will continue to feel the chilling effect of the Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways (“MMS”) long after the snow has gone.

Recent news about a large chunk of concrete allegedly falling from the Gardiner Expressway Bridge and smashing into the windshield of an unsuspecting motorist below is yet another reason why municipalities’ standards of care should be reviewed.

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