The Morris Law Group

Hamilton Ontario Personal Injury Blog

Did you know that your headrest could prevent personal injury?

Drivers and passengers in Ontario might be surprised to learn that the headrests in their vehicles are as crucial as seatbelts when it comes to injury prevention. A significant number of personal injury lawsuits that go through the civil justice system of the province involve rear-end collisions that often lead to whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the number of such injuries can be significantly reduced if passengers and drivers adjust their headrests for optimal safety.

Whiplash is the most common soft-tissue injury that causes damage to the spine and the cervical neck area. Upon impact of a rear-end collision, the heads of vehicle occupants move forward and backward in a rapid motion. This causes trauma to soft tissues that is often overlooked because the injuries might only become evident in the days or weeks following the accident.

Cycling without a helmet can cause serious personal injury

Bicyclists in Ontario cities are extremely vulnerable due to the lack of dedicated infrastructure to protect them. Many personal injury claims in the province's civil justice system involve accidents caused by disrespectful drivers of vehicles, ineffective road design, dog attacks or other hazards. For this reason, cyclists under the age of 18 must wear helmets -- and parents should replace helmets after any serious fall.

However, helmets are only effective if they fit correctly and are replaced as a child grows. It's is not wise to buy a bigger helmet for the child to grow into, because a helmet that is too large will not fit snugly. Only properly fitted helmets will provide the necessary protection. Also, only helmets that have never been in a crash can be passed down to younger siblings.

Low tire pressure: A leading cause of winter accidents

This time of year, the simple act of driving to work requires contending with a lot of extra hazards. In addition to heavy snow, black ice, and white-out visibility, you also have to deal with severe cold—and its impact on your car’s functionality.

You may have equipped your car for winter by stowing warm blankets and chains in the trunk. You might have even switched to antifreeze windshield wiper fluid. But one thing many car owners fail to do is regularly check their tire pressure. This oversight can have a serious impact on driver safety.

Navigating a personal injury lawsuit could be daunting

If a driver's actions cause a motor vehicle accident in Ontario, an injured victim may have grounds to file a claim for damages in civil court. Such personal injury lawsuits are typically based on evidence of negligence. Drivers owe a duty of reasonable care to others, including their own passengers, other motorists and those in or near the roadway. 

Impaired driving, speeding and distracted driving are all significant concerns, along with disobeying traffic devices and passing illegally or where it is not safe to do so. In some cases, a third party may bear some responsibility for an accident. Automobile manufacturers can face products liability claims if vehicle defects cause accidents, and municipalities might bear financial responsibility if potholes, malfunctioning traffic lights or negligent road maintenance cause a crash. Also, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol to an obviously inebriated patron who then causes an accident can be sued.

Medical malpractice lawsuits might deter preventable errors

Although most hospital stays have positive outcomes, a significant number of instances of preventable harm occur in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, many cases involve more than one type of preventable medical errors. Patients are advised to report anything that concerns them during hospital stays because early intervention might prevent severe consequences that could lead to costly medical malpractice lawsuits.

In a 2016 report, the CIHI identified some of the preventable errors that appear to be most common. The list includes errors associated with medication incidents and health care such as pressure ulcers, birth trauma and anemia. Also, infections linked to health care like post-procedural infections, pneumonia, sepsis, gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections can follow negligent care.

Slip-and-fall accidents on private or rented property

A significant number of personal injury lawsuits move through the civil justice system of Ontario each year. Slip-and-fall accidents give rise to many of those claims, which are filed against negligent property owners. It is not only business owners who are expected to keep their premises safe; homeowners or renters must also ensure their properties are safe for those who visit them. Delivery people, babysitters, couriers, repair or maintenance technicians, and other visitors could hold a homeowner responsible if dangerous conditions lead to injuries.

Known hazards that must be addressed to mitigate risks include accumulated ice and snow on walking surfaces, uneven surfaces, or walkways with potholes, gaps or dangerous cracks. A homeowner must report such hazards on municipally-owned sidewalks bordering their properties. Slippery surfaces on porches or indoor floors must be cleaned if wetness causes a danger, and highly polished or tiled floors should be covered with non-slip mats. Damaged or poorly lit stairways or missing handrails, debris or accumulations of wet, slippery leaves could also cause falls.

Personal injury claims often follow spinal cord injuries

Car accidents often change the lives of the people involved. Catastrophic injuries can occur in the blink of an eye, and victims then have to cope with the emotional and financial consequences. Spinal cord injuries are the subject of many personal injury lawsuits that are litigated in the Ontario civil justice system.

The sensation, strength and certain body functions below the site of a spinal cord injury can be affected. Complete spinal cord injuries refer to the loss of all motor and sensory function below the injury site, and incomplete injuries apply to cases in which some degree of feeling and mobility remain. Spinal cord injuries can cause different types of paralysis, including quadriplegia or tetraplegia, which affects the victim's trunk, hands, arms, pelvic organs and legs. Paraplegia refers to complete or partial paralysis to the limbs, pelvic organs and trunk.

Medical malpractice: Never events continue to happen

Back in 2015, Health Quality Ontario established a list of events that should never be allowed to happen during medical treatment by professionals. In drafting that never event list, the authors endeavoured to prevent incidents that could cause severe and unnecessary harm to hospital patients. Physicians, nurses, other health care workers and policymakers along with patients and their family members were involved in compiling the list, and they were all hoping to eliminate incidents that would lead to medical malpractice claims.

The top five never events on the list include surgical procedures involving the wrong patient, wrong body part or wrong procedure. Also, giving the wrong biological implant, tissue or blood product to a patient must be avoided, and so must the unintentional leaving behind of a foreign object in a patient during a procedure. Along with these are events that cause harm or death due to the use of equipment or instruments that were not adequately sterilized. The fifth never event on the list involves death or harm caused by administering medication to a patient known to have an allergy to it.

Navigating a personal injury lawsuit can be challenging

Whenever one person's negligence causes physical harm to someone else, the injured victim might be entitled to pursue financial relief to cover damages. Personal injury laws in Ontario base claims for damage recovery on proof of negligence. This might be the most significant challenge for the plaintiff who will have to show the court that something that the defendant did -- or failed to do -- caused injuries that led to financial losses.

Every person has a duty of care to avoid actions that expose others to unreasonable levels of risk and harm -- whether intentional or unintentional. In some cases, like clearing dangerous snow accumulations from the sidewalk in the winter, the lack of action could constitute negligence. An individual is expected to take a standard of care that any ordinary, prudent and reasonable person would take in similar circumstances.

Personal injury: Car accidents cause many undiagnosed concussions

Victims of car accidents in Hamilton and other cities in Ontario might decline a trip to the hospital for a medical evaluation because there are no apparent wounds or broken bones. This might be a mistake because some types of personal injury -- such as concussions -- might only become evident in the days or weeks after a crash. Authorities say a significant number of brain injuries are not reported because they are not diagnosed.

Brain injuries include conditions like meningitis, brain infection, strokes and concussions. In particular, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury with various possible symptoms. While it is typically associated with contact sports, many car accident victims suffer concussions with long-term consequences. The whiplash-like motion of the head on impact in a collision causes the brain to slam into the inner walls of the skull, causing TBI known as concussion.

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