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Wrongful Death Accident Claims in Alberta

The loss of a family member as a result of a motor vehicle accident is devastating.

In Alberta, if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses. Alberta’s Fatal Accidents Act permits a legal action to be brought to recover damages for the benefit of certain family members.

According to section 3 of the Fatal Accidents Act, only the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister of the individual who died are eligible to make a claim.


Under the Alberta Fatal Accidents Act, the following claims may be made:

  1. Expenses incurred for the care and wellbeing of the deceased between the time of injury and death may be claimed by a spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(a));
  2. Travel and accommodation expenses incurred in visiting the deceased between the time of the injury and death may be claimed by the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(b));
  3. Funeral expenses including all things supplied and services rendered in connection with the funeral and disposal may be claimed by the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(c)); and
  4. Fees incurred for grief counselling for the benefit of the spouse, adult interdependent partner, parent, child, and/or brother/sister (section 7(d)).

Proof must be provided to claim these expenses.

A Loss of Dependency Claim may be claimed if the deceased was gainfully employed and was supporting or partially supporting a spouse and/or children. Experts such as economists can help calculate the value of this claim by looking at various financial records.


The deceased’s family members may also claim for bereavement, which is an amount representing grief, loss of care, guidance, and companionship.

In Alberta, section 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act sets out the amount for bereavement for fatal collisions occurring after May 1, 2013 as $82,000 to a surviving spouse or interdependent partner, $82,000 to the parent or parents divided equally, and $49,000 to each surviving child of the deceased no matter his/her age.  Interest is added to these amounts to the date of payment or settlement of the fatal car accident insurance claim.

Unfortunately, brothers, sisters, and stepchildren do not receive any financial compensation for bereavement, unlike in other provinces in Canada.

Damages for bereavement appear to be a fixed amount as set out by statute, however, the insurance company will often try to reduce this amount by alleging contributory negligence on the part of the deceased driver (i.e. if the deceased driver is found 25% contributorily negligent for the accident then the bereavement amounts for each individual will be reduced by 25%).

Bereavement claims can also be reduced by 10% to 25% for contributory negligence if it is found that the deceased was not wearing his/her seatbelt at the time of the accident and that this contributed to his/her death.


The deceased’s family may also claim a loss of housekeeping services if the deceased was primarily responsible for taking care of the household and for child rearing. This calculation is based upon the hours the deceased worked in the household providing shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, child care, transportation services, maintenance, etc.


Claims made for wrongful death must be commenced within two years from the date of death. Failing to commence an action within this time period may result in a missed opportunity to make a claim and therefore may be fatal to your case. Limitation dates may vary if the claimant is a minor or dependent adult. Other considerations may also come into play in each individual case, therefore it is highly recommended to seek legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer.

If you have a loved one that died as a result of someone else’s negligence, our personal injury law firm can help. At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, our team of personal injury lawyers are knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate, and we can help ensure that you receive fair compensation while helping you and your family move forward. Please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation to help you understand your rights under the Fatal Accidents Act and help you and your family receive compensation for your loss.

Alberta Nursing Home Negligence

Canada’s senior population is rapidly growing. There are approximately 5.9 million Canadian seniors. As these numbers continue to grow, more elderly adults are placed in nursing care facilities.

Recently, CBC Marketplace compiled six years of data from Ontario’s long-term care facilities, revealing that staff-to-resident abuse has increased 148% from 2011 to 2016. On average, data revealed that six seniors at long-term care homes in Ontario are abused every day.

Older adults who are suffering from dementia are especially vulnerable to abuse and being taken advantage of by strangers.


Nursing home abuse refers to a specific intent to cause harm or risk of harm to a nursing home facility resident.

Nursing home neglect occurs when a nursing home or its staff fail to fulfill the obligations set by the government and the nursing home industry designed to keep its elderly residents safe.


Seniors, as they age, lose their ability to defend themselves and over time become more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Nursing home residents often do not report abuse due to shame, guilt or fear that the abuse may become worse. Sometimes victims simply are not capable of reporting the abuse. It is important that visitors of those living in nursing homes pay close attention to their loved ones when visiting the nursing home facility and give their loved ones the opportunity to reveal abuse or neglect.

Common physical signs of nursing home abuse and neglect may include:

  • Untreated bedsores;
  • Open wounds, cuts, bruises, or welts;
  • Torn clothing or broken personal items;
  • Bruises in a pattern that would suggest restraints;
  • Excessive and sudden weight loss;
  • Fleas, lice, or dirt on the resident or in the resident’s room;
  • Abnormally pale complexion;
  • Social withdrawal and depression;
  • Fecal or urine odor; and/or
  • Poor personal hygiene or other unattended health problems.


There are different types of elder abuse, which may include physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, neglect, and abandonment.  Abuse rarely occurs as an isolated incident, and often more than one type of abuse can occur at the same time.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when any type of force or violence takes place against an elderly individual resulting in bodily harm, physical pain, injury or impairment. This type of abuse may include pushing, shaking, hitting, and the inappropriate use of drugs or confinement.

Psychological Abuse

One of the most common types of elder abuse is psychological or emotional abuse.  Although common, it is also the most difficult to detect as there is no physical evidence.  This type of abuse takes place when verbal or non-verbal actions cause mental anguish or distress as the result of threats, manipulation, intimidation or insults.  In some cases, the senior is treated as a child, ignored or even isolated from their family and friends.

The following are examples of psychological/emotional abuse:

  • Yelling and shouting;
  • Name-calling and ridiculing;
  • Embarrassing the senior in front of others;
  • Causing the senior to feel guilty or upset;
  • Giving the senior the silent treatment;
  • Restricting access to food, water or bathroom facilities; or
  • Taking away or hiding personal items.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse, ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, occurs when unwanted sexual contact takes place with anyone over the age of 60 and may effect seniors who are unable to provide consent or disapproval due to illness or cognitive impairments.

The following are signs or symptoms of sexual abuse:

  • Unexplained STDs or genital infections;
  • Bruises on breasts, inner thighs or genitals;
  • Difficulty walking or sitting;
  • Underwear that is torn or bloody;
  • Panic attacks or signs of post-traumatic stress disorder; or
  • Social or emotional withdrawal from others.


Failing to provide a senior with essential care or basic necessities such as food, water, medication, clothing or attention are all examples of neglect.

Neglect can be “active” when a caregiver deliberately withholds care and basic necessities or “passive” when a caregiver unintentionally fails to provide proper care due to ignorance or inexperience.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse takes place when there is an illegal or unauthorized use of an elderly person’s money, assets or property. This type of abuse may also occur when a senior is pressured or coerced to provide money or sign a document that he/she does not fully understand.


If you are looking to find the right nursing home for your loved one, here are a few recommendations to help you make the right decision.

  1. Visit the long-term care facility at different times of the day to ensure that there is enough staff prior to selecting a facility.
  2. Do your research. Check provincial inspection reports to see if the facility has had any infractions and talk to residents or others who have family members at the facility.
  3. After selecting a long-term care facility, visit often or hire a caregiver to stop by frequently to ensure that your family member is getting the care they deserve.
  4. Document any problems in writing and with photographs or video, where necessary.
  5. Always inform supervisors and corporate staff of any concerns.

At Cuming Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones. If a member of your family has suffered serious injury or significant harm due to nursing home abuse or neglect, Cuming Gillespie Lawyers may be able to help you obtain financial compensation. Contact our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers to learn what options are available at 403-571-0555 or online today.

Wildlife vs. Motor Vehicles in Alberta

In the Province of Alberta, there are over a thousand rural vehicle accidents involving wildlife, including moose, deer or fox, each month and this number doubles each November (over 2,600 accidents on rural Alberta roads).

Collisions with animals increase during the late fall due to mating season as wildlife are on the move in search of mates.  Animals are drawn to roads due to an abundance of roadside vegetation, they are attracted to road salt, they are looking for mates, and the roads cut through their migration routes.

Although wildlife are active all day and all year round, research has found that most wildlife motor vehicle accidents occur between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

Animal-vehicle collisions represent approximately 50% of all reported vehicle accidents in Alberta on provincial rural highways. Every year in Alberta, six people die in highway accidents after motorists come into contact with wild animals and approximately 320 wildlife related motor vehicle accidents result in serious injuries.


Although it is our natural inclination to swerve when encountering wildlife on the road, doing so may risk a more dangerous scenario, such as turning into oncoming traffic, hitting a tree, light post or a ditch.

It is recommended that if the animal is smaller than your car you should take your foot off of the gas and keep your vehicle on a straight course. Your vehicle may incur less damage when hitting an animal than if you were to hit another vehicle or a tree.

However, if you encounter a deer or moose on a roadway you want to try to avoid hitting these animals. A deer may respond to the noise from your horn or flashing lights.  It is recommended that you stay on the road and maintain a strong grip on the steering wheel.  No one wants to intentionally hit a moose or deer, but sometimes it is better to hit the animal than try to avoid it.  Many motorists and passengers are injured when encountering a wild animal by trying to veer out of the lane and then hitting another vehicle or fixed object.


  • Avoid throwing any garbage out of your window, which may attract wildlife.
  • Be alert and slow down when driving at dusk or dawn when wildlife is most active.
  • Slow down when you see wildlife near the road. Animals can be unpredictable and they sometimes travel in groups. It is recommended that you honk in a series of short bursts to encourage the animal to leave the area.
  • Pay attention to posted wildlife warning signs.
  • Be alert and keep a close watch. When driving in wooded areas, watch for deer in the ditches and along forest edges.
  • Drive defensively and be prepared to take evasive action. Always drive so that you are able to stop within the space of your headlights. Also, be sure that you are wearing your seat belt and all passengers are wearing theirs.
  • When driving through areas with heavy wildlife, it is recommended to situate your vehicle towards the inside of the lane, away from the side of the road. This will give you more reaction time if an animal is startled and darts onto the roadway.
  • Use high beams when driving at night for best visibility.
  • Keep your windshield and headlights clean for better visibility.
  • Avoid distracted driving and pay close attention to your surroundings in order to avoid a collision.


If you do become involved in an accident with a wild animal, move your vehicle to a safe place and turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of the conditions.  If you or your passengers have suffered injuries, call 911.

Do not approach the injured animal.  A frightened or wounded animal may panic and could harm you.  Call the local police if the animal is blocking traffic or creating a hazard for other drivers.

When it is safe to leave your car, take photographs of the road, your surroundings, any vehicle damage, and any injuries sustained.  If witnesses stop, record their account of what occurred and ask for their contact information.

Also, call for a tow if your car is unsafe to drive.  Check if your vehicle has suffered damage to its lights, or if there are any leaking fluids or anything that could make driving your vehicle dangerous.

Wildlife-related car accidents can be traumatic and life-changing, especially if you have suffered serious injuries, such as a head injury or spinal cord injury as a result of the accident.  An experienced personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the relevant law and challenges of proving driver fault arising from a serious motor vehicle accident can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 403-571-0555.  Call our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you following a motor vehicle accident.

Albertans Should Use Caution When Snowmobiling this Winter

Winter is quickly approaching, and with over 5,000 km of trails in Alberta its time to get outside and enjoy the snow. Snowmobiling is a very popular recreational activity for those living in Alberta. However, fast speeds, unpredictable terrain, and treacherous weather conditions contribute to snowmobile accidents in Alberta.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information for 2016 -2017, 911 Canadians were treated in hospitals for snowmobile-related injuries.

The Canadian Red Cross has reported that over a period of 20 years there were 398 snowmobile-related deaths from unintentional water-related fatalities, which were largely preventable. These immersion incidents occurred while riders were travelling on ice, going off-road or off bridges. They also found that alcohol was present or suspected in 58% of fatalities of those 15-years of age or older.


Snowmobiles are considered off-highway vehicles pursuant to section 117(a) of the Traffic Safety Act.

By law in Alberta, everyone who operates a snowmobile must:

  • have a registered snowmobile (section 119);
  • be insured if you plan to operate the snowmobile on public land or highways where permitted (section 119);
  • wear a safety-approved helmet and ensure passengers and those being towed by a snowmobile also wear helmets (section 128);
  • be at least 14 years of age to operate a snowmobile independently (Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation, section 2);
  • ensure that a person younger than 14 years of age be accompanied by an adult or supervised closely (Off-Highway Vehicle Regulation, section 2).


If you are using a snowmobile, it is important to follow these precautions to reduce your risk of injury:

  • Ride sober: Do not drink alcohol or do drugs before or while operating a snowmobile. Impaired driving laws are the same for all motorized vehicles in Alberta.
  • Clothing: Always wear a helmet, eye protection, a personal flotation device in case of unexpected submersion, and protective clothing appropriate for the conditions in order to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Ride in daylight: Low light and reduced visibility will increase the chances of an accident.
  • Operate a machine that is the correct size for you.
  • Ride within your abilities.
  • Always snowmobile with others: Avoid snowmobiling on your own to ensure rescue is an option. Be sure to leave 15 metres between snowmobiles.
  • Stay on trails designated for snowmobile use.
  • When operating on lakes or rivers, be aware of the ice conditions. Ice should be at least 25 cm thick.
  • Be prepared for an emergency with a cell phone in a waterproof container, a rope, a first aid kit, emergency tools and supplies, signal flares, and something to build a fire.
  • Keep your snowmobile in good repair.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and check in when you return from your ride.


Injuries associated with snowmobile accidents are often serious and life-threatening due to poor weather conditions and high speeds. Also, similar to motorcycles, snowmobilers have little protection when it comes to a collision with another vehicle or a tree. In addition, those who travel over frozen lakes may become injured if they mistakenly encounter open water.

Common snowmobile injuries include:

  • Hands or legs trapped underneath the machine;
  • Lacerations;
  • Broken or fractured bones;
  • Spinal cord injuries;
  • Traumatic brain injuries; and/or
  • Internal organ damage.


A snowmobile accident victim may have a legal right to compensation when suffering injuries following an accident. Snowmobile accidents are often the fault of either the manufacturer, improper maintenance of trails, or negligent driving by an operator themselves.

Common causes of snowmobile injuries include:

  • Poorly maintained trails;
  • Poorly manufactured snowmobiles;
  • Driver intoxication;
  • Nighttime operation with reduced visibility;
  • Equipment failure/defective parts; or
  • Excessive speeding.

If the injured victim was riding as a passenger on the back of a snowmobile or if the accident was caused by a careless driver, he/she may be sued for negligence. A driver may be found negligent if the driver was impaired, was driving at excessive speeds, was driving recklessly, or failed to properly maintain the snowmobile.

If the accident was caused by a defective design or equipment failure, suing the designer or manufacturer may be a possibility.


If you are involved in a snowmobile accident, it is important to take the following steps:

  1. Check for injuries: If there are any injuries, call for help immediately.
  2. Take photographs and document details of the accident.
  3. Keep track of all costs associated with any damages or injuries caused by the accident.
  4. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. It is important not to delay seeking legal advice to avoid weakening your case or losing the right to sue.

If you or a loved one have suffered personal injuries as a result of a snowmobile accident and believe a third party is responsible, please contact the knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or call 403-571-0555. We will review your snowmobile accident case to determine the best approach to take and how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.

What is on the Horizon When Edibles Become Legal in Canada

In Canada, recreational cannabis in the form of dried and fresh cannabis, oil, plants, and seeds became legal on October 17, 2018. The federal government has announced that edibles containing cannabis will become legal for sale and purchase on or before October 17, 2019.

Edible products include beer, tea, baked goods, candies, and other options that may lack the social stigma associated with smoking marijuana.

Although cannabis edible products still remain illegal, an increasing number of children have visited emergency departments across the country due to non-fatal cannabis poisoning.


Edibles are manufactured with varying levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient found in marijuana. They can take the form of any type of food or drink, most often found as a type of candy or baked goods.

A substantial concern arises that children will mistakenly ingest cannabis-infused products for regular food, as they may be unable to read the labels that indicate the product contains THC or may not understand the meanings of the labels.

Unintentional poisoning by cannabis edibles is a risk to younger kids as they appeal to them because they are disguised as harmless enticements, such as brownies or gummies.

Intentional poisoning amongst teens and adults is likely to take place when experimenting with cannabis edibles as they do not realize that absorption takes hours when consuming edibles compared to minutes when smoking. Individuals will likely ingest toxic amounts as they ingest more of a cannabis product when they do not feel an immediate effect.

Teens may also accidentally ingest edibles if they receive them from their friends without being fully informed as to what is in the product.

For edibles, the labelling often does not provide enough information and the serving size is not clearly marked

Signs of cannabis poisoning include agitation, rapid breathing, high heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. Some also exhibit additional symptoms such as anxiety, abnormal behaviour, trouble focusing well or balance difficulties.

Death is extremely unlikely, however it may occur without proper and immediate medical intervention.

There are no medications that can counteract the poisoning by cannabis edibles. In hospital, medical care is provided through respiratory tubes or intravenous fluids as they wait for the patient to come down from the unintentional high.


In 2014, Colorado became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize the sale of cannabis for recreational use.

Edibles account for approximately 45% of Colorado’s legal marijuana market.

Following legalization of cannabis, Colorado experienced a 34% increase in unintentional ingestion of edibles by children under the age of nine. Of these cases, 35% required hospitalizations for overdose symptoms.

As a result of this significant spike in hospitalizations related to cannabis, in August 2014 Colorado tightened their rules regarding the unregulated edibles market. They introduced an emergency rule making it illegal to sell cannabis infused products that resemble animals, fruit or people.  Also, edibles have to be divisible into smaller servings containing no more than 10 milligrams of THC content. All edible products packaging requires a symbol of a diamond and the letters “THC!” to warn children and unsuspecting adults about the contents of the product. In addition, the words “candy” or “candies” cannot appear on marijuana packaging, unless part of the marijuana establishment’s name.

Colorado has also spent a great deal of money on education campaigns to discourage youth consumption and driving while impaired.


Andrew Dixon (“Dixon”), an emergency pediatrician and professor at the University of Alberta, predicts that children face a higher risk of intentional and unintentional poisoning from edibles.

According to Dixon, there have been two cannabis poisonings this month at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Over the past few years, Dixon has only seen two or three children with cannabis poisoning.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, there have been nearly 600 cases of cannabis poisoning last year for patients under the age of 20 in Ontario and Alberta. These provinces have also had 24 children under the age of four admitted to emergency rooms after eating cannabis edibles last year.

Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that over the past three years the number of emergency room visits due to cannabis overdoses in Ontario has almost tripled (from 449 in 2013-2014 to nearly 1,500 in 2017-18). In Alberta, the number of emergency room visits due to cannabis overdoses has nearly doubled during the same time period (from 431 in 2013-2014 to 832 in 2017-18).

According to Dr. Margaret Thompson, medical director of Ontario, Manitoba, and Nunavut poison centres and president of the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres, every poison centre in Canada has reported increased exposure to cannabis.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident causing serious harm, we can help.  At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we have the dedication and experience to help injured people. For a free initial consultation with one of Calgary’s award-winning personal injury lawyers, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 today.

Injury Tracking System Introduced by Hockey Calgary

Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada.  According to Hockey Canada, there are more than 570,000 Canadians registered with the organization to play hockey throughout Canada.

Hockey is considered to be one of the fastest and roughest sports. Players are moving at fast speeds and the game often involves physical contact between players. Hockey players are especially susceptible to injuries which may include lacerations, concussions, contusions, ligament tears, broken bones, hyperextensions, and muscle strains.

Hockey Calgary, a subsection of Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada, is the governing body for ice hockey in the city of Calgary. Hockey Calgary has now introduced an online tracking system to collect data on players’ injuries in an effort to improve player safety.


According to Hockey Calgary, coaches and other team leaders who enter game sheet information into an online database will be asked if the player is injured when reporting a player absent from a game. If the player is injured, a series of follow-up questions will be asked including when and how the injury occurred, what kind of injury it was, and its severity. The database also keeps track of when the player returns to regular play and how long the player was injured.

The University of Calgary’s Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre will analyze the data at the end of the hockey season and provide feedback to Hockey Calgary regarding better ways to prevent injuries.

This online data will provide evidence to create changes such as new rules or better equipment to keep hockey players safer. Leaders in the sport of hockey can toughen up rules or mandate more protective gear if the data shows for example that most concussions occur among bantam-aged players or collarbone injuries occur most often in midget-aged players.

This new tracking system comes just one year after the new concussion protocol was put in place by Hockey Calgary. All coaches and volunteers have been provided with clipboards by Hockey Calgary with concussion recognition tools. The front of the clipboards include a graphic providing a step-by-step protocol on how to identify a concussion. This includes signs and symptoms, when to call an ambulance, and specific questions to ask to assess memory recall.


A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused when an impact to the head, face or neck or a blow to the body causes a sudden jolt of the head and results in the brain moving inside the skull.

A concussion most often occurs without loss of consciousness.

There are multiple symptoms and signs related to concussions that may develop immediately or become worse later that day or the next morning. The following are just a few symptoms and signs to look for:

  • Headache;
  • Dizziness;
  • Feeling dazed or seeing stars;
  • Ringing in ears;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Poor balance or co-ordination;
  • Slow or slurred speech;
  • Delayed responses to questions;
  • Vacant stare;
  • Confusion, disorientation, and poor concentration.

If you suspect that a player has suffered a concussion, the player should stop playing the sport right away and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. If a player has been knocked unconscious, an ambulance should be called and the player should be taken to the hospital immediately.

Following treatment for a concussion, the player should not be left alone and should be checked throughout the night. If there are any concerns regarding the injured player’s breathing or sleep during the night, the player should be woken up. If any symptoms appear to be getting worse, the player should return to a doctor immediately. No injured player should return to the sport until they have been cleared by a doctor to do so.


The sport of hockey is rewarding and teaches dedication and teamwork and encourages physical activity. In an effort to avoid injuries and ensure all players are having fun, all participants, including coaches and volunteers, have to make safety and fair play a top priority. Following these simple steps can help decrease the risk of injury:

  1. Keep your head up when handling the puck.
  2. Be aware and stay alert.
  3. Get your arms up when going into the boards.
  4. Always wear proper equipment, including a properly fitted helmet that fits snugly and always fasten the strap.
  5. Always wear a custom fitted mouthguard to protect teeth and prevent concussions.
  6. Never hit from behind.
  7. Never hit to the head.
  8. Control your stick responsibly.
  9. Communicate with your teammates.
  10. Respect the safety of everyone on the ice.

If you have suffered from personal injuries as a result of a sports accident or other incident, or have any questions regarding a potential claim, please contact the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or by calling our office at 403-571-0555.  Our experience handling personal injury claims can give you an advantage in your fight for compensation.  We offer free consultations to new clients.

PTSD In Personal Injury Claims

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in 10 people develop post-traumatic stress disorder at some point in their lives. This condition often develops following a sudden painful experience, such as a serious accident. This disorder significantly impacts the life of an accident victim.

Victims of motor vehicle accidents, and other types of personal injury accidents, typically suffer physical injuries.  Alongside these physical injuries, accident victims may also suffer psychological injuries that affect their life to the same extent, or sometimes to a greater extent, than their physical injuries.

A psychological injury is a type of mental harm, suffering or dysfunction that is the direct result of another individual’s negligent actions.  A victim may seek damages in court for the resulting mental trauma. Psychological injuries may involve a number of conditions including chronic pain syndrome, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, and depression. One of the most common types of psychological injury that results from a personal injury claim is post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”).


The Canadian Mental Health Association defines PTSD as a mental illness following exposure to a traumatic situation involving death or the threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence.

If PTSD is ignored or left untreated, it can lead to more serious problems such as depression, drug or alcohol dependence, thoughts of suicide, and physical health problems.

Signs of PTSD can begin in the hours and days following a traumatic event, but may not appear for years. Victims may feel a sense of shock and disbelief, lingering feelings of anger, anxiety, or worry, and fear that an accident may happen again.

One of the symptoms associated with PTSD is distress when presented with objects or situations that remind them of the accident. For example, a dog bite attack victim might suffer from psychological and physiological stress when he/she hears a dog bark.

Some signs that you may be suffering from PTSD following a car accident include the following:

  • General uneasiness and anxiety;
  • Irritable, excessive worry, or feelings of anger;
  • Nightmares, difficulty sleeping, and restlessness;
  • Lingering memories of the crash, reliving it mentally and thinking about it often;
  • Feelings of distress about driving or getting into a car or being around moving vehicles.


Those that suffer from PTSD have personally experienced a traumatic event that has caused them to fear for their lives, see horrible things, and feel helpless. Strong emotions caused by the traumatic event create changes in the brain that may result in PTSD.

It isn’t clear why some individuals develop PTSD and others do not following a traumatic event. The likelihood of experiencing PTSD depends on many factors, which may include:

  • How intense the trauma was;
  • If you lost a loved one or were hurt;
  • How close you were to the event;
  • How strong your reaction was to the event;
  • How much you felt in control of events;
  • How much help and support you received following the event.


If left untreated, PTSD may have detrimental long-term effects. Those who are suffering from this condition may be unable to work, their relationships with family and friends may be strained, and they may even develop suicidal thoughts or actions.

In some cases, individuals become addicted to drugs or alcohol, resort to self-injury, suffer from an overwhelming fear of death, develop personality changes, and partake in self-destructive behaviours.


Treatment for PTSD focuses on helping individuals regain a sense of control over their life.

The primary treatment is psychotherapy.  Cognitive-behavioural therapy and exposure therapy are two common types of therapy used to treat PTSD.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy has been shown to be effective for PTSD. This type of counselling teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together and how to deal with problems and stress. Individuals are often taught skills such as relaxation techniques.

Exposure therapy is a type of behavioural therapy that helps the individual safely face situations and memories that he/she finds frightening in order to learn to cope with them effectively.  One approach is to use virtual reality programs to allow the individual to re-enter a traumatic setting.

Medication, such as anti-anxiety mediation or anti-depressants, may also help with the anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties associated with PTSD.

Support groups can also be helpful as way to share experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who are similarly affected by PTSD.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a serious accident and suffer from serious injuries, including PTSD symptoms, you are entitled to fair compensation to help you recover from your injuries. To receive answers to any questions you may have, please contact the experienced and award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers to discuss your case today. For a free case evaluation, please contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 to make an appointment. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.

Legalization of Cannabis and Road Safety

The majority of Canadians will agree that the legalization of marijuana will seriously impact safety on our roadways. Studies have shown that between 2000 and 2010, 16.6% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for cannabis use.

A recent poll conducted by CAA found that two-thirds of Canadians are concerned that driving will become more dangerous following legalization. This same survey revealed that over a quarter of those surveyed felt they “drive okay or even better when impaired” by marijuana.

Legislation is now in place to establish the legal limit for THC (the active ingredient in marijuana that creates the “high”) in the blood. This is similar to the limits set for alcohol use (i.e. 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration level). However, unlike alcohol, which effects physical co-ordination at relatively low levels, marijuana affects the way a person thinks and how a driver may react to an unexpected occurrence while driving.

If a motor vehicle accident occurs while one is operating a vehicle while impaired by cannabis, this may result in both negligence in a civil action and a criminal offence.


Alberta’s alcohol and drug-impaired driving offences and penalties were recently updated to coincide with the new federal drug laws, which came into effect on June 21, 2018.

If you are found driving over the criminal limits for blood-drug concentration levels, you are considered impaired. Police can lay a summary conviction charge against a person driving with between two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood (subject to a maximum fine of $1,000). Charges may be laid either as a summary or indictable offence for those who have more than five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood, which may lead to increased fines and jail time as penalties.

In addition to these charges and penalties imposed by the court, drivers in Alberta who are believed to be criminally impaired, who fail or refuse to provide a fluid sample, or are found to be over the legal limits for alcohol, cannabis, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, will be subject to the following sanctions:

  • Immediate 90-day licence suspension.
  • Immediate 3-day vehicle seizure (or 7-day seizure for a second and subsequent occurrence).
  • Mandatory remedial education.
  • One-year participation in a provincial ignition interlock program.

Drivers under the Graduated Driver Licensing (“GDL”) program are subject to a zero tolerance policy. If any amount of cannabis or illegal drugs are found in their blood, the driver will be subject to the same provincial sanctions that apply to alcohol, including:

  • Immediate 30-day licence suspension.
  • Immediate 7-day vehicle seizure.
  • Must remain in GDL program for two years and have no suspensions in the last year to graduate from the program.


Marijuana impairment can change driver behaviour. However, the amount of the drug that is needed to cause impaired driving and the extent to which it increases the risk of an accident is unknown. Each individual is affected by cannabis differently. Impairment can depend upon the method of consumption (smoked, inhaled, ingested), the quantity of cannabis consumed, and the variety of cannabis and its THC levels. There is no conclusive level of THC that is “safe” for everyone.

Cannabis has been found to impact a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Deficits such as reaction time, visual function, concentration, short-term memory, and divided attention have all been found in those impaired by marijuana. A driver’s ability to monitor and respond to more than one source of information at a time and respond to unexpected events, also known as divided attention tasks, has been found to be impaired by the use of cannabis.

A study completed at McGill University was looking at the impact of marijuana on the driving ability of 18 to 24-year-old occasional cannabis users in Canada. Researchers tested the performance of the participants in intervals up to five hours after consuming cannabis. They also tested drivers without cannabis as a baseline.

The research found that cannabis did not have any effect on simple driving tasks, such as braking, steering, or lane-keeping. However, significant impairments were found for complex driving tasks, such as merging, turning, or spotting a pedestrian on a roadway.


Two studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute released last week in the U.S. found an increase in the number of car accidents in states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

The first study found that car accidents in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado have increased up to 6% in comparison to their neighbouring states that have not legalized marijuana.

The second study found that there was a 5.2% increase in car accidents in states that have legalized marijuana use when looking at the number of police-reported traffic accidents prior to and following the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes.


The best approach to avoid impaired driving is to plan ahead. There is no reason to drive while impaired or for being a passenger in a car with an impaired driver.

If you are planning on participating in the use of recreational marijuana, be sure to consider the following options:

  • As a parent make sure your child understands the dangers of driving under the influence and make sure he/she has money to take a taxi home.
  • Make sure you have a designated driver.
  • Call a friend or loved one to pick you up.
  • Take public transit.
  • Call a cab or a ridesharing service.
  • Stay overnight.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by an impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. Please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or by calling 403-571-0555 for a free consultation.


Mandatory Training for Commercial Drivers in Alberta

In the wake of the horrific accident involving a semi-trailer truck and a coach bus, which was transporting the Humboldt Broncos hockey team last spring, the Government of Alberta is implementing mandatory training for new commercial drivers and strengthening safety requirements for new commercial truck drivers and commercial truck and bus companies.

According to Brian Mason (“Mason”), Minister of Transportation:

We are advancing safety standards in our commercial driving industries to enhance road safety, not just in Alberta, but across the continent, as commercial drivers travel across Canada and North America. We’ve worked with industry stakeholders to make these changes with their support and we are pleased to be moving forward to put them in place.


In an effort to make our highways safer and ensure that drivers of large vehicles receive better training, those drivers seeking a Class 1 (professional licence for semi-tractor trailer drivers) or Class 2 licence (professional licence for commercial buses) will be subjected to a standardized curriculum taught in all driving schools, new training hours, and enhanced knowledge and road tests.

Drivers who wish to obtain a Class 1 or Class 2 licence, starting in March 2019, will be required to take a mandatory entry level training course, including both in-class, in-yard, and in-vehicle training. They will also require at least 125 hours of training with an air-brake test.

Starting in March 2019, drivers who obtain a Class 1 or Class 2 licence between October 10, 2018 and March 1, 2019, will be required to repeat the new enhanced knowledge and road test for free.

Instructors and examiners will all be government employees who have been re-trained and re-tested to provide and test the new curriculum.


In Alberta, there are more than 25,000 commercial carriers operating more than 150,000 vehicles.

Beginning January 1, 2019, commercial carriers will be required to:

  • provide full compliance documentation when applying for a Safety Fitness Certificate, and renew the certificate every three years;
  • complete a mandatory safety and compliance course, and complete a knowledge test before commencing operations; and
  • undergo a formal, third-party review to ensure compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations within one year of commencing operations.


There are currently 153 private road testers across the province of Alberta. Starting March 1, 2019, Alberta will no longer allow for private road testing and all road exams will be administered by the province. This was a promise that Mason had made following the Broncos bus crash.

Mason maintains that government testing will help fix the numerous complaints that the government receives regarding poor service, high fees, and lack of access in small centres.

A flat fee for a standard Class 5 licence will be $83, and a $219 fee will apply for a Class 1 commercial truck licence.

Alberta plans to hire 161 examiners and anticipates that many of the existing testers will be hired as government employees. These examiners will receive training and be subjected to reviews.

Mason outlines that government run road testing will mean that there will be standardized fees; enhanced regulation to ensure that tests are conducted fairly, consistently, and professionally; a call centre for complaints and to co-ordinate responses; mobile driver examiners to enhance accessibility across the province (especially in rural areas); on-line and in-person scheduling; and benefits and professional development opportunities for examiners.


The announcement of these new changes to the commercial and bus training and safety regulations was made on the same day as charges were placed against Sukhhmander Singh, the 29-year-old owner of the Calgary trucking company that was involved in the Broncos crash, for non-compliance with federal and provincial safety regulations.

The driver of the semi-truck, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was arrested this summer following the fatal collision on April 6, 2018 that left 16 people dead and 14 injured. He was charged with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Singh’s trucking company, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd., was operating out of Edmonton and remains suspended.

Eight charges have been laid against Singh, which include:

  • two counts of failing to maintain logs for drivers hours of service (federal charges);
  • three counts of failing to monitor the compliance of a driver under safety regulations (federal charges);
  • two counts of having more than one daily log for any day (federal charges); and
  • failure to have or follow a written safety program (provincial charge).

The maximum penalty for a federal hours of service failing is $5,000 per offence and a provincial charge carries a $310 penalty. However, a court may use its discretion to impose a penalty up to $2,000.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving a truck or a bus, you likely have many questions. Please contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers to help answer all of your questions and determine whether you are entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered. We offer free consultations for new clients. Contact us online or call our office to make an appointment at 403-571-0555.

Record Breaking Snowfall Arrives Early to Calgary

Environment Canada reported that a record 32.8 centimetres of snow fell on October 2, 2018 in Calgary, breaking a snowfall record of 4.6 centimetres in 1954. It also broke the one-day snowfall record in October, which was 30 centimetres in 1914.

The snowfall came fast and heavy, leaving roads and highways slippery for morning commuters. This unseasonable early snowfall caused chaos on the streets of Calgary, creating gridlock and completely closing some roadways.


In the late afternoon on October 2, 2018 a section of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary was shut down in both directions. Travellers were stranded on this roadway for more than 13 hours due to poor weather conditions.

RCMP first began issuing warnings about poor driving conditions starting at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They requested that motorists avoid traveling on Highway 1, west of Calgary.

RCMP reported that they closed Highway 1 and worked with highway crews and tow trucks to clear the roads and assist motorists to safety. Fortunately, there were no fatalities as a result of the weather related collisions and no severe injuries to the stranded motorists.


Calgary Police Service reported 251 collisions in the city between 11p.m. Monday, when the snow began to fall, until 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

In Calgary, ice and snow on roadways may be a contributing factor in car accidents every winter. Sometimes the actions or inactions of drivers play a part in car accidents that occur in winter weather, such as failing to slow down when road conditions are hazardous or driving vehicles that are not adequately prepared for snow and ice (i.e. driving on tires with little or no tread and/or poorly functioning brakes).

However, there are some motor vehicle accidents that are caused when municipalities and government bodies fail to take reasonable care to maintain public roadways and keep them free of ice and/or snow. When this failure occurs and leads to car accidents and personal injuries, municipalities may be held liable for the accidents. Municipalities are required to take all necessary action to keep road users reasonably safe and must have and adhere to clear policies for inspecting road conditions and responding to problems in a timely manner.


Calgary Transit drivers and commuters also experienced a difficult day on Tuesday as approximately 80 buses were stuck in snowbanks and had difficulty traversing slippery hills.

Officials reported that city buses do not have snow tires.  Shane Keating, chair of Calgary’s Transportation and Transit committee, reported that he is hesitant to spend more money on winter tires for city buses as he is uncertain about their effectiveness.

Calgary Transit reported that buses that travel on hills were experiencing difficulty driving on slippery roads on Tuesday morning. Commuters were asked to either wait at the top or bottom of the hills for the bus.


There are three key elements to safe winter driving: stay alert; slow down; and stay in control.

Before winter arrives, it is essential to schedule a maintenance check-up to inspect the vehicle’s tires and tire pressure, battery, belts and hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipes, and ignition system. It is also recommended that your vehicle be equipped with four winter tires for improved traction and control if you are driving in severe winter conditions.

The following are additional important recommendations to follow as an Alberta motorist driving in the winter:

  • Keep your gas tank properly full: At least half a tank is recommended. The extra fuel can help reduce moisture problems in your fuel system and adds extra weight to your vehicle.
  • Always check the weather and the road conditions before venturing out: Give yourself extra time to get to your destination or postpone your trip, if necessary.
  • Be sure to clean all of the snow off of your vehicle, including your roof, before leaving: Ice and snow that comes off your vehicle can limit visibility and can be dangerous to other travellers.
  • Adjust your driving to weather conditions: Be sure to slow down, use your turn signals well in advance, and give yourself plenty of room for braking.
  • Gear down for uphill climbs and downhill grades: This can help avoid brake wear and tear and reduce your chances of sliding.
  • If your vehicle begins to skid, take your foot off of the brake and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car: This kit should include flashlight, reflective safety triangles or flares, a small first-aid kit, snow brush and scraper, bag of abrasive material, extra windshield washer fluid, booster cables, a small tool kit, a warm blanket, and bottles of water.

The personal injuries lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have extensive experience in filing successful claims for innocent victims of car accidents. If your serious injuries were the result of negligence on the part of a municipality or another motorist, you may have the right to sue for damages. Please contact our office either online or at 403-571-0555 to make an appointment for a free case evaluation to speak with our experienced personal injury lawyers. We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.

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