Please remember, getting financial compensation is anything but simple. The process can be overwhelming even for professionals. If you or your loved ones are injured as a result of motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for accident benefits. It’s a good idea to contact a lawyer. In most cases, no fee will be charged unless a recovery is made.
CONTENTAfter a Motor Vehicle Accident
- Important Time Limits
- What You SHOULD and SHOULD NOT do after an Auto Accident
AFTER A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT
If you have been involved in an auto accident, what do you have to do after?
1) First of all, do not leave the place where the accident happened otherwise you may be subject to criminal prosecution.
2) Try to stay calm (even it is hard). Do not argue with the other parties. Do your best to write down the following information:
- the driver’s name and his/her licence number
- the name of the other driver’s auto insurance company and a policy number
- the plate number, model, and year of the vehicle
- the date, time and location of the accident
- the number of people involved
- your description of the accident and damage to the vehicles involved
- the name and badge number of the police officer
- the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of witnesses
3) Take pictures of the accident scene, of yourself or any passengers if you can. If it is appropriate, follow up with pictures a few days later (when bruises become apparent, etc).
4) If someone is injured and the damage to the vehicles involved looks more than $1,000, or you suspect that the other driver is guilty (under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example), call 911. Police will come as soon as possible. Follow their instructions. Remember, that you shouldn’t move anyone who is injured – you may complicate their injuries!
5) If nobody is injured and the damage to the vehicles involved looks less than $1,000, report the accident to a Collision Reporting Centre within 24 hours
6) Notify your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible.
IMPORTANT TIME LIMITS
- You have to notify your insurance company within 7 days from the date of the accident, regardless of who is at fault.
- You have 30 days from the date of the accident to fill in the accident benefit forms and send them back to your insurance company.
- In case if the insurance company refuses to pay the accident benefits, you have 2 years to apply for mediation.
- In case if mediation fails, you have 2 years after the insurance company refuses to pay the accident benefits claimed to apply for arbitration or 90 days after the mediator issues the Report of Mediator, whichever is later.
- You have 2 years to sue the insurance company for accident benefits.
- You have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
- You have 120 days from the date of the accident to send the other driver a notice of your intent to sue.
What You SHOULD and SHOULD NOT do after an Auto Accident
- Inform the police of the accident and record the attending officer’s name and badge number.
- Record the names of any witnesses and all those directly or indirectly involved in the accident.
- Contact your family doctor.
- Contact your insurance company within 7 DAYS.
- Report your injury to your employer or school.
- Record the names of all attending health care professionals.
- Keep all receipts for related expenses including those incurred by family members helping the injured person.
- Keep a record of the victim’s health problems.
- Check for health and injury coverage provided through your employer, credit card or other sources.
You SHOULD NOT:
- Rely on a non-professional advice from friends, co-workers or family members about your case.
- Sign any document you do not understand.
- Rush into any settlement.
- Accept an offer of settlement without reviewing it with a lawyer or paralegal.
- Be afraid to ask questions.
- Assume that the insurer is always right.
- Wait to get good advice.
ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE (ATV) ACCIDENTS
“ATV” is an abbreviation for an all-terrain vehicle, also known as a “three wheeler”, “four wheeler”, “quad” or “quad bike”. ATV is a vehicle that travels on low pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. As the name implies, it is designed to handle a wider variety of terrain than most other vehicles. In Canada, it is not street legal vehicle. ATVs are intended for use by a single operator, although some companies have developed ATVs intended for use by the operator and one passenger.
Legal Definition of an “All-Terrain Vehicle”
“ATVs are generally defined as three-or four-wheeled motorized vehicles (although newer models may have up to six wheels), with large, low-pressure tires designed for a single operator riding in off-road terrain.” There are also ATVs on the market engineered, designed and manufactured to accommodate a driver and one passenger and the Canadian Institute of Health Information’s (CIHI) definition includes both snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles.
- In 2004, according to the Canadian Safety Council, approximately 850,000 Canadians owned an ATV.
- ATVs are used in Canada as a means of off-road transportation for forestry, farming and recreational purposes.
- Since being introduced in the North American market in the early 1970s, the recreational use of ATVs has grown significantly.
- These vehicles weigh up to 500lbs and can reach speeds of up to 105km (65mph). ATVs for two riders can weight up to 800lbs.
- Operating an ATV safely requires adult skills and judgment.
- Use of ATVs by those under 16 years can result in serious injury and death.
- Increased popularity of ATVs has resulted in increased ATV-related injury rates.
- Riding an ATV is not comparable to riding a bike, motorcycle or driving a car. It requires the ability to shift your weight in a coordinated response to terrain changes.
ATV Injuries in Canada
ATVs were first introduced in the early 1970s and almost immediately realized alarming injury rates for children and adolescents due to crush injuries and failure to wear safety gear such as helmets. In fact, ATVs are equally as dangerous as motorcycles. A Canadian study stated that “associated injury patterns, severity, and costs to the healthcare system” of pediatric injuries associated to ATVs resemble those caused by Motor Vehicles.
Direct costs of ATV and snowmobile injuries in Canada are $185 million and indirect costs are $196 million for a total cost of $381 million. For transport related injuries, ATVs and snowmobiles are nationally responsible for the following:
- 13% of hospitalizations
- 7% of emergency room visits
- 12% of cases of permanent partial disability
- 11% of permanent total disability
ATV Injuries in Ontario
On average, more than 15 people each day are seen in Ontario emergency departments for injuries related to ATVs. In the 2005/06 ﬁscal year, there were 5,584 Emergency Department visits (47.1/100,000) and 579 (4.8/100, 000) hospitalizations for ATV related injuries.
Some ATV injuries statistics:
- Of those hospitalized, 78% were discharged home, 10% were discharged home with support services and approximately 1% died in the ED.
- The majority of those presenting at the ED or being hospitalized were ATV drivers.
- The most common injuries for ED visits and hospitalizations were those to the lower limbs (knee, lower leg, ankle and foot). Lower leg fracture was the most common injury for ED visits and hospitalizations followed by fracture of the shoulder and upper arm.
- The highest overall rates of ATV injuries were reported in Northern Ontario.
- Males represented 80% of ED visits and 83% of hospitalizations for ATV injuries.
- Males and females 10–24 years represented the highest number and rate of ED visits and hospitalizations for ATV injuries.
- Males 15–19 years had the highest number of ED visits (935) and hospitalizations (87) for all age groups and for both males and females – more than three times that of females.
Where All-Terrain Vehicle (Off-Road Vehicles) Can/Cannot Travel:
- Provincial regulations apply to provincial highways only
- Prohibited from 400 series highways, Trans-Canada Highway, Queen Elizabeth Way
- Generally, vehicles will be allowed access to highways 500 to 899, 7000 series highways and highways with low traffic volumes.
- Provincial highways with a Summer Average Daily Traffic level less than 5,000. Specific provincial highways where Off-Road Vehicles can/cannot travel are defined in the regulation schedules.
- Provisions allowing Off-Road Vehicles on roads in far Northern Ontario also apply.
- Off-Road Vehicles can operate on shoulder; move to traveled portion of highway if shoulder is impassable/unsafe
- Speed limit lower than posted limits:
- 20km/h – highways where speed limit is 50km/h or less;
- 50km/h – highways where speed limit is over 50km/h.
Not allowed on rights-of-way (e.g., medians) between opposing lanes of traffic.
- Cannot operate in a construction zone, on a closed highway, or within a provincial park unless allowed by the park.
- Municipalities may pass by-laws to decide if, where and when off-road vehicles can be used on local roads.
According to the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport of Ontario, in 1995, approximately 30% of Ontarians used bicycles recreationally and less than 1% in competition. Cycling ranked second to motor vehicle incidents with respect to non-fatal transport-related injuries, accounting for 15% of hospitalizations, 21% of emergency room visits, 17% of cases of permanent partial disability and 16% of permanent total disability in 2004. Cycling incidents account for a significant portion of the injury costs arising from transport incidents – $0.44 billion or 12% of total costs. Bicycles, in particular, are identified as one of the top three most frequent products that result in injuries to children and youth between 5 and 19 years.
Bicycle Accidents Statistics (2007-2008)
- 10% (n = 435) of the major trauma cases that were injured while involved in a sports or recreational activity.
- 8% of cases (n = 54) for Ontarians younger than 20 years.
- 48% (n = 70) of cycling incidents in Ontarians younger than 35 years and 1.8% (n=16) among those 20–34 years. 3% (n = 145) of all cases and 2% (n = 12) of all in-hospital deaths. For these cases:
- The mean age was 36 years.
- 80% were male (n=86).
- The mean Injury Severity Score was 24.
- The mean length of stay was 12 days.
- The most common sports and recreational injuries documented (25%, n = 109).
- 80% of injured cyclists were male (n=86).
Current Ontario Legislation for Cycling
Research has demonstrated that helmets are effective in preventing head injury because 75% of cycling-related fatalities involve head injuries. Bicycle helmet legislation in Ontario is contained within the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Ontario Highway Traffic Act:
- Anyone under the age of 18 years is required to wear an approved bicycle helmet when travelling on a public road. The fine for not wearing a helmet is $75.00 ($60 + $5 court cost + $10 victim fine surcharge).
- Cyclists 18 years and older, while not required by law to wear a helmet, are encouraged to do so for their own safety.
- Bicycle helmets approved for use in Ontario contain one or more stickers of the following organizations:
- Canadian Standards Association: CAN/CSA D113.2-M89
- Snell Memorial Foundation: Snell B90, Snell B90S, or Snell N94
- American National Standard Institute: ANSI Z90.4-1984
- American Society For Testing and Materials: ASTMF1447-94
- British Standards Institute: BS6863:1989
- Standards Association of Australia: AS2063.2-1990
- New bicycle helmets in Canada should provide either the CSA or the CPSC standard. The CPSC standard is comparable to the CSA standard. Helmets with British or Australian standards are not widely available in the Canadian market but are safe to use.
- Studies have found a positive effect of bicycle helmet laws for increasing helmet use and reducing head injuries in the target population compared to controls (either jurisdictions without helmet laws or non-target populations).
- Anyone operating an electric bicycle must wear an approved bicycle helmet at all times.
Although, motorcycle’s share of vehicle population in Ontario is 2.1%, motorcycles have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance traveled when compared with automobiles. According to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, in 2007, the total number of motorcycles involved in traffic accidents was 2,654 where 54 people were killed and 1,693 – injured.
Main risk factors related to motorcycle injuries, but not limited to, were being an unlicensed driver, under 25 years of age, alcohol use, helmet not worn (fatalities), driver error, other error, single vehicle collisions, weekend and day/night.
Motorcycle safety concerns many aspects of vehicle and equipment design as well as operator skill and training that are unique to motorcycle riding. One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash. If for any mishap, a motorcycle accident took place, several common types of severe injuries occur including:
- Head and brain injury (including concussions) as the head violently contacts other vehicles or objects: riders wearing a proper helmet significantly reduce the risk of death. There were no reported accidents in which the helmet caused a serious neck injury.
- Breakage of joints (most common breakages are elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and wrists)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Permanent physical and emotional scars
Many motorcycle accidents happened simply because other drivers did not see the motorcyclist. Some collisions involve failing to yield to a motorcyclist who is legally making maneuvers on the road (for example, turning left in front of oncoming traffic). Lots of the fatal motorcycle accidents show alcohol or drug involvement.
Ontario’s snowmobile trail system is the largest in the world with over 40,000km of trails. Ontario and the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) work together to encourage snowmobilers to ride with a Snowmobile Trail Permit on OFSC-prescribed trails that are maintained and marked for improved safety.
Head injuries remain the leading cause of mortality and serious morbidity from collisions or overturning involving snowmobiles. Children’s lack of strength and skill required to operate a snowmobile can make it challenging to do so safely.
Snowmobile Injuries in Canada
In Canada, there are more than 660,000 registered snowmobiles that cover over 1.65 billion kilometres of trails during the snowmobiling season. (118) The majority of snowmobile injuries take place on private property and those under 20 years are the most likely to sustain serious injury (orthopaedic injury and head injury). Most injuries (34%) occur in February and alcohol was reported to be a factor in 49% of admissions for severe trauma cases in 2003–2004. Ninety-one percent of those injured were driving. Those 15–19 years comprised 19% of those treated in Ontario emergency departments followed by 13% aged 35–39 years.
Snowmobile Injuries in Ontario
On average, each week, over 40 people visit an emergency department for injuries from snowmobiling in Ontario. In 2005/06, there were 2,096 Emergency Department (ED) visits and 268 hospitalizations for snowmobiling-related injuries and 5% were admitted as inpatients to critical care/operating rooms. Northern Ontario experienced the highest rate of ED and hospitalizations. Males represented the vast majority of these cases (75% ED visits and 84% of hospitalizations):
- Males aged 15–19 years represented the highest number and rate of ED visits
- Males aged 30–34 years had the highest number and rates of hospitalizations (120)
Snowmobile Legislation in Ontario – Motorized Snow Vehicles Act
This legislation is the responsibility of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and is enforced by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), municipal police and Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol STOP -volunteers who are sworn special constables by the OPP. Drivers must be at least 12 years and possess a valid Motorized Snow Vehicle Operator’s Licence (MSVOL) to operate a snowmobile on a trail. Drivers must be at least 16 years and possess a valid driver’s licence or MSVOL to drive along or cross a highway (that includes a municipal road).
- The speed limit on trails is generally 50km/h.
- Municipalities may set lower speed limits for highways and roads under its jurisdiction by means of a bylaw.
- Municipalities may set higher speed limits for trails under its jurisdiction by means of a bylaw.
- Snowmobiles operating on a prescribed trail must display a valid trail permit.
- Lights are required at night, during inclement weather or insufficient light conditions.
- Helmets are required for drivers and passengers unless the snowmobile is operated on the vehicle owner’s property.
- Snowmobiles must be registered and insured unless being operated on the vehicle owner’s property.
- To successfully obtain an MSVOL, individuals must complete a driver training course consisting of six hours of instruction and receive at least 80% on a final written test.
The number of carrying cargo trucks on the roads increases rapidly. For example, in Toronto, on Highway 401 between Weston Road and Highway 400, the annual average daily traffic reaches up to 500,000 vehicles and about 20% of them are commercial trucks. Highway 401 is the transportation backbone of the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, along which over half of Canada’s population resides. In 2007, approximately 42 million vehicles including almost 8 million trucks used Ontario’s international border crossing. The Ministry of Transportation statistics indicates that in 2007 there were 170 collisions involving large trucks (it was almost 15% of all motor vehicles accidents) and 56 people were killed.
According to the annual report of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (2006), 149 people died and 2,807 people suffered significant injuries in motor vehicle collisions involving large commercial trucks. Obviously, when a huge truck collides with a smaller passenger car, the smaller vehicle is likely to be damaged much more than a truck.
There may be lots of reasons for a truck accident:
- Truck drivers not driving properly
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driver fatigue
- Improper loading
- Improper maintenance
- Failure to comply with all applicable Ministry of Transportation regulations and more.
The possibilities of financial compensation may include the trucking company, the truck driver, the owner of the tractor or trailer, the maintenance shop and others. However, the process of obtaining the accident benefits can be complicated.
PEDESTRIAN – ACCIDENTS
Almost two-thirds of the 1.2 million people killed annually in road traffic crashes worldwide are pedestrians.
Pedestrian – Bus Accidents
Each year about 20 school-aged pedestrians are involved in fatal accidents with school buses. Almost half of these accidents involve the child colliding with the front of the bus. In most cases, the bus driver can be held at fault. Depending on circumstances the transportation company, the bus owner, local government, bus manufacturer and even manufacturers of components in the bus may be held liable for damages.
Pedestrian – Car Accidents
Most pedestrian crashes involve a forward moving car (as opposed to buses and other vehicles with a vertical hood/bonnet). In such a crash, a standing or walking pedestrian is struck and accelerated to the speed of the car and then continues forward as the car brakes to a halt. Although the pedestrian is impacted twice, first by the car and then by the ground, most of the fatal injuries occur due to the interaction with the car. The car-pedestrian interaction is characterized by the following sequence of events: the vehicle bumper first contacts the lower limbs of the pedestrian, the leading edge of the hood hits the upper thigh or pelvis, and the head and upper torso are struck by the top surface of the hood and/or windshield.
Most Common Injuries
Most pedestrian deaths occur due to the traumatic brain injury resulting from the hard impact of the head against the stiff hood or windshield. In addition, although usually non-fatal, injuries to the lower limb (usually to the knee joint and long bones) are the most common cause of disability due to pedestrian crashes.
Most Common Reasons for Accidents
Some of the most common causes for bus accidents are:
- Inadequate training of the driver
- Exceeding the capacity of the bus or carrying excess baggage
- Failing to maintain equipment – brakes, brake lights, signals, etc.
- Driving a bus when conditions are poor – foggy, icy, heavy rain, snowing
- Driving when fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or narcotics
- Speeding or reckless driving
After a Pedestrian Accident
Do not leave the scene of the accident unless it is in an ambulance. If you are able to do so, get the information of the person involved in the accident – name, address, phone number, drivers license number and expiration date, vehicle license plate, registration and insurance company and policy number. Also get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the incident. Call the police and wait for them to arrive. If they do not come to the scene, file a report immediately. You may contact your insurance company and make them aware of the accident. It is important to remember that even if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you need to report the incident to the police and to your insurance company.
Vulnerable Groups of Pedestrian
There are two groups of people who are the most at risk for pedestrian – motor vehicle accident:
Child Risk Factors
The main risk factors for children are:
- Physical development: The head, chest and abdomen are still in a growth state; smaller, softer, sensory facilities are under-developed; there is inadequate ability to synthesize information from peripheral fields of vision and the auditory sense.
- Cognitive: Although visual processes are fully developed, a full integration of visual signals into a meaningful context is not in place until 10–12 years. (80)
- Socio-economic status: Children living in low SES areas will choose routes to avoid social risks, typically have higher traffic volumes and fewer safe places to play.
- Parental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours: There tends to be an acceptance that injuries are part of growing up; however, the best predictor of parental involvement is a strong concern about safety of the environment and a sense of neighbourhood solidarity or connectivity.
- Environment: There is a higher risk of injury where there are high traffic volumes, high density of parked cars, high speed limits, limited safe play choices and low-income urban areas.
- Drivers: High speeding behaviour
- Using roller skates or skateboards
- Talking on a cell phone while crossing a street
Nowadays, more seniors “aging in place” in the suburbs, where amenities are not close at hand. Seniors being more active – volunteering and working longer to support their increased life expectancy or providing child care for grandchildren. The fact that in some communities it is difficult for people to access a family physician, senior’s clubs or shopping centres traveling on foot, makes seniors taking public transportation and crossing the roads. So, the most common injuries of seniors happen due to:
Seniors Risk Factors
The main risk factors for seniors are:
- Reduced vision – especially at night.
- Difficulty judging distance and speed.
- Limited movement and range of motion.
- Slower reaction time.
- Difficulty focusing attention for long periods of time.
- Easily distracted.
- More time needed to understand what is seen and heard.
- More use of prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs that may impair driving ability.
SOME STATISTICS ABOUT MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS IN ONTARIO
According to the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, there are 10.4 million registered vehicles in the province and 8.5 million drivers. Do you know that Highway 401 is the busiest highway in North America, and one of the widest and busiest in the world? In Toronto, between Weston Road and Highway 400, the annual average daily traffic reaches up to 500,000 vehicles. No wonder that the motor vehicle accidents are at the top of the list of potential reasons for personal injury. In Ontario, passenger vehicles make up 76% of the vehicle population and comprise 80% of all vehicles involved in reportable motor vehicle collisions.
- Motor vehicle collisions were responsible for nearly one-half of all major injury hospitalizations at lead trauma hospitals (42%).
- Among the trauma cases, motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause of injuries in all age groups.
- For those aged 20–34 years, motor vehicle collisions (excluding cyclists) were responsible for 57% of injury.
- For all causes of injury, more than half of the cases had blood-alcohol testing. Of those, 29% had a blood-alcohol concentration greater than zero and 22% had an alcohol concentration (defined as greater than or equal to 17.4mmol/L) reflecting the legal positive blood-alcohol limit.
THE MAIN CAUSES OF MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS:
- Speeding/Aggressive Driving
- Distracted Driving and Driver Fatigue
- Drinking and Driving
- Young and Novice Drivers
During the 2005–2006, motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause of hospital admissions among Ontario youth aged 15 to 24 years and were also the leading cause of emergency room visits for youth aged 15 to 24, after unintentional falls. Canadian drivers aged 16–19 are 15 times more likely to be fatally injured in a collision than 45- to 54-year-olds and three times more likely than drivers aged 75 and over. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death globally among 15- to 19-year-olds and the second leading cause in 10- to 14-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds. Male drivers are three times more likely to die in motor vehicle collisions than females.
Accident can happen in the blink of an eye yet the repercussions can last a lifetime. An accident is an unpredictable event, very specific and unusual, that can occur with no apparent and deliberate reason and has a negative outcome. We have to add to the list motor cycles and boats, public transit buses and streetcars, heavy trucks and airplanes. Technical progress allows us to save time by commuting faster. Time is money. But the faster the car, the greater the risk. Almost every one of us has to ride a bus or drive a car to go to work. Even if you work from home you have to do shopping now and then. In fact, our daily traveling is a major cause of personal injuries.