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Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie

New Device Developed to Prevent Concussions

Concussions and repetitive impacts to the head are frequent injuries suffered by football players.  It has been reported that there is an increasing number of retired NFL players who suffered concussions during their career that have developed memory and cognitive difficulties, including dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

A new device called a Q-Collar is being tested by linebacker Adam Bighill during practices and games with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as a concussion prevention device.  Bighill’s teammates are also trying out the Q-Collar, along with several members of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. 

WHAT IS THE Q-COLLAR?

The Q-Collar is a metal and plastic device that forms an almost complete circle around the wearer’s neck. 

Toronto colleagues, Dr. Joe Fisher and Dr. David Smith, invented the Q-Collar, which has received a Medical Device Establishment License from Health Canada authorizing the sale of the device in Canada.  The device is awaiting approval in the United States.

Impact from trauma to the head can cause damage in two ways.  The first is when the brain hits the skull.  The second is when tissues (such as blood vessels) in the brain get stretched and torn. 

HOW DOES THE Q-COLLAR WORK?

The Q-Collar exerts a slight pressure on the main blood vessels in the neck causing some blood to back up in the cranium (approximately two teaspoons).  That blood fills up the extra space to protect the brain.  Thus, the increased blood volume in the head acts as an airbag for the brain. 

Dr. Fisher stated:

We thought that maybe if we had 10, 15 maybe even 20 per cent reduction in brain damage, it would have been a great thing but in fact it was 85-90 per cent reduction in brain damage.

According to Bighill, who had a previous concussion in high school, he was looking to prevent small impacts as well as the big hits.  He stated:

It’s really about the prevention side of things.  I want to be able to prevent a lot of the hits that you think might not be damaging.

The Q-Collar has endured six years of research and more than 20 laboratory and clinical studies.  More than 500 individuals have participated in studies and there have been more than 500,000 impacts over 20 g-forces. 

Independent clinical trials were performed with hockey, football and soccer players.  Through the use of advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques and accelerometers to determine measurements of head impact, those athletes that were wearing the Q-Collar were found to have significantly less changes to the structure of their brain than those who were not wearing the Q-Collar.

The Q-Collar is designed for any sport or activity where an athlete is subjected to or at risk of exposure to head impacts, such as football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, skiing, biking or auto racing.  According to the research, there have been no negative impacts of wearing the Q-Collar on athletic performance. 

Although the Q-Collar cannot guarantee protection against concussions, it has been found to protect the brain from head impacts.  It is important to remember that using the Q-Collar should not replace the use of other protective equipment, such as helmets.

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION & WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

A concussion is a type of brain injury that occurs following an impact to the head, neck or face, or body.  Unfortunately, a concussion cannot be viewed using routine image scans, such as MRI, X-ray or CT scans.  Concussions can only be diagnosed by observing the changes in the way an individual thinks and feels.

The following are typical symptoms associated with concussions:

  • Neck pain;
  • Double vision;
  • Loss of consciousness;
  • Seizure or convulsion;
  • Vomiting continuously;
  • Severe headache;
  • Weak, tingling or burning feeling in the arms or legs.

According to the report of “Traumatic Brain Injuries in Alberta”, on average there were 13,617 individuals who visited emergency departments and were diagnosed with concussions each year.  The research found that the overall risk of head injuries is higher for falls (i.e. slipping, tripping or due to a collision or push by another person) than sports-related injuries. 

HOW IS A CONCUSSION TREATED?

If you suspect that you have suffered a concussion, seek medical help immediately.  Health professionals will monitor your symptoms and advise as to which activities you can return to.  You may also require a referral to a neurologist, physiotherapy or occupational therapist. 

Concussion symptoms generally last between 6 to 10 days.  The following is generally recommended to treat a concussion:

  • Get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day;
  • Avoid visual and sensory stimuli, including video games and loud music;
  • Eat well-balanced meals;
  • Slowly return to normal activities;
  • Be sure to advise your employer or teacher that you have suffered a concussion;
  • Avoid strenuous physical or mental tasks; and
  • Avoid activities and sports that could lead to another concussion.

It is strongly recommended that you follow the advice given to you by your doctor regarding returning to activities such as driving, operating machinery, returning to sports activities or school.

If you or a loved one have suffered a head injury as the result of a sports accident or other incident, or have any questions regarding a potential claim, please contact the experienced and award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers today.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  Contact our office today online or at 403-571-0555 for a free initial consultation.


Share the Road: Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers

School is back in session, and all drivers have a responsibility to be more attentive when travelling on the roads.  This is especially important during the times of day when children are more likely to be outside of their school, including before school begins, lunchtime and after school.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to offer some important safety tips to all drivers on how to share the road, especially when driving around school property.

IF YOU ARE DROPPING YOUR CHILDREN OFF AT SCHOOL

Crossing guards are responsible to help children cross the road safely near schools.  Drivers should always obey the crossing guards.  Our children rely upon crossing guards to tell them when it is safe to cross the road.  Drivers who ignore crossing guards are putting young students in danger.

It is important for drivers to respect all “no parking” and “no stopping” zones in order to avoid traffic jams and irritation, which may lead to hazardous driving situations.  Drivers are encouraged to only stop their vehicles in areas designated by the school in order to load or unload their children.  Also, avoid double parking as it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.

Driving slowly through school zones helps promote safety and sets a good example for your children.  School zone speed limits are typically 30 km/h during set times.

It is also recommended that children be dropped a block or two away from school in order to reduce traffic congestion or make use of carpools in order to reduce the number of vehicles arriving at the school.

Drivers are also advised against passing vehicles when travelling through a school zone.  Drivers typically increase their speed when passing, which can be hazardous in school zones.

SHARING THE ROAD WITH BICYCLES

Although bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as all other vehicles on the road, children riding their bicycles may create unusual problems for drivers.  Drivers should be especially cautious in these circumstances.

It is recommended that when passing a bicyclist to proceed slowly and leave 3 feet between your vehicle and the cyclist. 

It is also recommended to let the cyclist go through the intersection first when you are intending to turn right and a cyclist is approaching from behind.  And, using your turn signals is always required.

Drivers should be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighbourhoods and always watch out for bicycles coming out of driveways and behind parked cars.  It is also important to check side mirrors before opening your door to avoid hitting a bicycle that is travelling by.

SHARING THE ROAD WITH SCHOOL BUSES

Children throughout rural and urban Alberta travel to and from school by school buses every day.  Unfortunately, children are inexperienced when it comes to sensing danger.  They may also be excited or energetic when entering or exiting a school bus.  Therefore, it is extremely important that drivers pay extra attention to watch out for young students around school buses.

Alternating flashing yellow or amber lights mean that a school bus is slowing down or stopping.  As a driver, you should be preparing to slow down and stop as well. 

When approaching a school bus with red flashing lights, all drivers are required to stop in both directions.  The penalty for passing a school bus with red flashing lights is steep ($543 and six demerit points).

It is most important to always be alert when travelling around school buses.  Children are likely to be travelling in the school bus and children’s behaviour is unpredictable.

OTTAWA LAUNCHES STOP ARM CAMERAS ON SCHOOL BUSES

A pilot project has been launched for Eastern Ontario French schools in Ottawa to install school bus stop-arm cameras.  There are currently six buses that have these cameras.  The cameras will capture footage of those vehicles that fail to stop for school buses that have used their red flashing lights and extended their stop-arm.

The school buses in Ottawa will be equipped with four cameras, all installed on the exterior of the bus.

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with flashing lights in Ontario.  If the school bus cameras catch a vehicle that fails to stop, a fine of $490 will be issued to the registered owner of the offending vehicle (even if the owner is not the one driving the vehicle). 

Ottawa officers will review footage captured by the cameras to decide whether to issue a ticket or lay charges.  The images are sent to the vehicle owner and the time and location of the offence are indicated on the infraction notice.  The registered owner will not be subject to any demerit points, which would have been the case if a driver were pulled over by a police officer for failing to stop for a school bus.

We will continue to follow any developments that result from this pilot project in Ottawa and will keep you posted in our blog if any school buses in Alberta become equipped with stop-arm cameras.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a result of an accident and believe a third party is responsible, it is critical that you speak with a lawyer regarding your situation as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation.  Please contact, the experienced and award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 403-571-0555.  Contact our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.


Two Deadly Crashes Occur on the Highway 9 Construction Zone

During the summer months in Alberta, road construction is anticipated and with it comes congestion and potential hazards.  With the start of construction on our roadways, drivers can expect narrowed roads, decreased lanes, traffic slowing or completely stopping, uneven surfaces and changes in traffic patterns. 

Unfortunately, road construction may also result in dangerous motor vehicle accidents, like the two deadly car accidents which occurred less than two weeks apart in a construction zone on Highway 9. 

AUGUST 7, 2019 ACCIDENT

On August 7, 2019, a three vehicle crash involving two tractor-trailers and a minivan occurred on Highway 9 at Range Road 60.  The Jeffreys’ family’s minivan was stopped in a construction zone when a semi-truck came up from behind and did not stop, forcing the minivan into the back of an already stopped tractor-trailer. 

Passenger, Zachary Jeffreys, eleven years old, was killed in the accident.  Lillian Jeffreys, eight years old, suffered a skull fracture and Gabriel Jeffreys, seven years old, requires reconstructive facial surgery, is expected to lose an eye and may have suffered brain damage.  The children’s mother, Carla Jeffreys, broke several bones and has a tear in her aorta.

Fortunately, neither of the drivers of the tractor-trailers were injured in the accident.

AUGUST 20, 2019 ACCIDENT

On August 20, 2019, three people died and two individuals were critically injured following a multi-vehicle collision .  The crash took place in a construction zone on highway 9 approximately 300 kilometres east of Calgary.   The accident involved seven passenger vehicles and three trucks near Range Road 72 between Chinook and Cereal. 

Initial reports indicate that one of the vehicles was a semi tanker truck hauling fuel, which ignited, causing several vehicles to catch fire.  An additional semi truck was carrying butane. The collision area was engulfed in flames, which were not extinguished until 8:00 p.m. that evening.

Bob Jeffreys, the driver of the minivan involved in the accident on August 7, 2019, having heard about this second accident, stated:

My question is:  why?  If the construction crew set up the site properly, if the government’s been in there to inspect the site and regulate it properly, then why within 10 to 12 days do you have two major accidents that have taken people’s lives and have impacted the community around that location? … All I know is that it’s hugely suspect that you have that happening in the same location within such a short breadth of time and under virtually the same conditions, from what I understand.

THE CONSTRUCTION ZONE

On Highway 9, there is a construction zone running along a 54-kilometre stretch of the two-lane highway from Oyen to Youngstown.

According to Debbie Laughlin, who works at K&M Gas Plus, two serious accidents in two weeks is concerning.  She confirmed that this stretch of highway is very busy with large transport trucks and typical summer tourist traffic.  She stated:

Things are fairly clearly marked, but with there being construction, there isn’t any passing allowed through certain areas.  There’s quite a number of stops along the way while they’re getting equipment out of the way and whatnot.  There’s flag people and speed limit signs. …

Somebody is definitely not paying attention, I think.  I don’t know if it’s an issue with the road…I don’t know if it’s just impatient drivers.  I don’t understand how there can be such horrific accidents in construction zones. …

You really do need to be more alert and pay attention.  I do understand big trucks can’t stop quickly, but they should be slowing down anyway, especially if they’re loaded.  I mean, it’s hard to slow down a truck.  So if you’re in a construction zone, you would think you would be slowing down, and then know your truck limitations.

INVESTIGATIONS ONGOING

The RCMP are investigating the cause of the second accident, which is expected to take several weeks to complete.  A hazardous material team also attended to the crash site to assist with clean-up.

Transportation Minister Ric McIver has offered his condolences to the families of the victims and has reassured the public that the province will be investigating the deadly crash.  Although Highway 9 is not currently on the province’s priority list, the government will be considering adding it.  McIver stated:

We’re concerned about the safety on every road in Alberta every single day. … It’s interesting that both these collisions were part of the same construction site.  We will look to see if there are patterns in between the first or second collision that might indicate some issue, some safety gap.  But, in perspective, these collisions were 16 kilometres apart.

We will continue to assess the way that we had our construction site.  Our initial assessment is that everything was done according to the rules, however we will continue to look at it to see if there’s something we can learn to keep Albertans safe.

TIPS FOR DRIVING SAFELY IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide the following recommendations for driving safely in construction zones:

  1. Expect the unexpected, such as reduced speed limits, changes to traffic lanes, and workers and vehicles working on or near the roadway.
  2. Be alert and pay close attention to all orange cones and diamond-shaped orange warning signs.
  3. Comply with the directions given by the flagger.
  4. Be patient in road construction zones.
  5. Avoid distractions such as texting, talking on the phone or eating while driving which can divert your attention away from the task of driving.
  6. Slow down and do not drive too fast for the road conditions.
  7. Co-operate with other drivers to keep traffic moving and merge responsibly and early, if possible.
  8. Do not follow too closely and be sure to leave seven seconds of braking distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  9. Expect and plan for delays by leaving enough time to reach your destination in a timely manner.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another driver while in a construction zone, please contact the knowledgeable personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers.  Please contact our office for a free case evaluation online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We are committed to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve. 


Appeal Court Upholds Ruling that City of Calgary Liable in CTrain Attack

In a recent decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal, the court ruled that the City of Calgary breached its “duty of care” by failing to provide a safe and secure transit environment and is liable for the injuries suffered by Kyle McAllister (“McAllister”).

WHAT HAPPENED?

Last year Cuming & Gillesplie Lawyers blogged about the lower court decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench which found that the City of Calgary is responsible for injuries suffered by McAllister following a brutal attack on a CTrain platform.

On New Year’s Day 2007, McAllister, 18 years old at the time, was attacked on the pedestrian overpass at the Canyon Meadows LRT station.  He was initially attacked by two youths, but others joined in with kicks and punches over a 20-minute period of time.

On the night of the attack on McAllister, two employees were viewing 42 video surveillance monitors.  Canyon Meadows station was being broadcast on 2 monitors from 25 cameras in the station that would cycle every three to four seconds.  The assault would have been on screen approximately five times each minute for three or four seconds.  Part of the attack was captured on camera, however, the images were blurry.

McAllister suffered a severe concussion, broken orbital bones, several facial fractures and damage to his teeth.  He required 40 stitches for these injuries. 

The trial judge found that the lighting, video surveillance and monitoring at the LRT station was deficient and prohibited a timely response to prevent the attack. 

The appeal court agreed that the City owed McAllister a duty of care to have systems in place to detect and respond to assaults and other such events.  The City was not, however, required to have a 24 hour security guard or continuous monitoring of every surveillance camera available.  However, the appeal court did find that the City was in breach of its duty to have a reasonable system in place for detecting and responding to an assault.

Unlike the lower court, the appeal court determined that the City’s breach of duty was in its failure to prevent the continuation of the assault.  The appeal court found the City liable for the “incremental damage caused by delayed detection and response”.  Therefore, the City was found to only be liable as one cause of the incremental damage to McAllister in the final 10 minutes of the 20 minute attack. 

PRIVACY CONCERNS

In response to this appeal decision, the Privacy and Access Council of Canada has declared concerns about the degree of surveillance required by the city.

Sharon Polsky, council president, is of the opinion that this judgment will apply to all city property, which will require installing more video surveillance in areas such as parks and bike paths.  The concern is that every citizen’s privacy will be compromised.  Polsky stated:

In essence, the court said there needs to be surveillance cameras to be able to meet the new duty to detect.  That applies therefore to all municipalities. 

So law abiding citizens, visitors to the city, everybody who just goes for a stroll and is minding their own business, not doing anything illegal, they will now be on surveillance cameras. It [the judgement] basically ordered a surveillance state.

McAllister’s lawyer, Trevor McDonald, on the other hand, does not believe that there should be any concern as a result of this decision. 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The City of Calgary is currently reviewing the appeal decision and has until the end of August to decide whether it will seek leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.

In terms of compensation for McAllister’s injuries, another trial will be held, likely next year, to determine how much the city must pay to McAllister for his injuries and the delays to his career and education.  Based upon the appeal court decision, the city is only partly responsible for McAllister’s damages.  According to the ruling:

[o]n a balance of probabilities, the City should only be found liable for being one cause of the incremental damage to the respondent within the final 10 minutes of this 20-minute event.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers will continue to monitor this case and report any new developments in this blog when they become available.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one have suffered a serious personal injury you may be entitled to compensation for the damages you have suffered.  At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we can help you identify the personal injury compensation types you are entitled to under the law.  Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or at 403-571-0555.  We can get started with a free case evaluation and are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve. 


New Study Shows Brain Injuries in Children Linked to Consumer Products

Statistics show that 452 people in Canada suffer a serious brain injury every day.  This translates to one Canadian suffering a traumatic brain injury every 3 minutes.

Researchers from Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in the United States examined specific causes of non-fatal traumatic brain injuries in children to identify areas of prevention and intervention.  They found that 72% of brain injuries that resulted in visits to the emergency department were caused by consumer products that are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a government agency that develops uniform standards and promotes the safety of consumer products.

WHAT IS A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY?

Traumatic brain injuries (“TBI”) refer to a disruption in the normal functioning of the brain due to a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. 

Non-fatal TBIs in children are often caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents, being struck by or colliding with a moving or stationary object, and assault.

Children who suffer from TBIs experience adverse outcomes, including but not limited to impairment in neurological development that impacts their educational performance, memory and adaptive skills.  Impairments of this nature can also affect a child’s cognitive, behavioural and emotional welfare, physical well being, interpersonal and social functioning. 

In Canada, 30% of all brain injuries are suffered by children and youth.  Those that survive a brain injury are, unfortunately, three times more likely to experience a second brain injury and are eight times more likely to sustain a subsequent injury as a result of their initial injury. 

CHILD BRAIN INJURY STUDY

A new study published in the journal entitled Brain Injury examined children up to 19 years of age who suffered non-fatal traumatic brain injury related emergency department visits in the United States from 2010 to 2013.  The researchers examined children who suffered mild or moderate TBIs that are often associated with symptoms that include headaches, dizziness, memory difficulties, sleep disruption and changes of mood.

The study found that 72.2% of all TBI-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations amongst children and adolescents up to 19 years of age are attributed to the use of various consumer products.  The types of consumer products associated with children who suffered TBIs depended upon their age group.

Children aged 5 to 19 years often suffered TBIs as a result of sports or recreational products.  Bicycles were the leading product associated with TBIs in children aged 5 to 9 years, and footballs followed by basketballs were the most prevalent consumer products related to TBIs in adolescents aged 10 to 19 years.

Infants and young children up to the age of 4 most often suffered TBIs from home furnishings and fixtures, such as beds.

Beds were found to be one of the leading products that resulted in TBIs amongst children.  Infants were found to have suffered falls when placed on beds or other furniture.  Bunk beds were also found to be dangerous resulting in children falling from top bunks while they slept or played and suffering a TBI.

For infants under the age of 1, car seats were found to contribute substantially to TBIs when used as baby carriers or handled inappropriately.  There is a great deal of risk of injury if a car seat falls off a high surface.

Floors and stairs also accounted for approximately 11% of childhood TBIs.  Uneven flooring and prefabricated stairs were found to contribute to falls and be the leading cause of TBIs in children.  Surfaces that were hard or non-resilient, such as asphalt and concrete, were also associated with skull and upper extremity fractures.

RECOMMENDATIONS ARISING OUT OF THE NEW CHILDHOOD STUDY

Given the important data arising out of the study, the researchers provided a number of recommendations to prevent childhood TBI injuries.  These recommendations include:

  • Removing tripping hazards, such as rugs;
  • Improving lighting;
  • Avoiding hard surface playgrounds;
  • Increasing the use of home safety devices, such as stair gates and guard rails;
  • Installing and using stairway handrails;
  • Avoiding the use of prefabricated stairs that can create a tripping hazard;
  • Caregiver education regarding the prevention of TBIs in younger children;
  • Enforcement of safety rules for games and playgrounds;
  • Proper use of safety gear, especially helmets, during games and sports;
  • Adult supervision; and
  • Education for youth athletes, parents and coaches regarding the risks of TBIs for sports.

CANADIAN STATISTICS REGARDING BRAIN INJURIES

The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (“CHIRPP”) is a surveillance system that collects and analyzes data from emergency room patients at 11 pediatric hospitals and 8 general hospitals in Canada.

CHIRPP found that ice hockey, physical education classes, sledding and tobogganning were the most common sport and recreational causes for brain injuries for boys aged five to nine years.

Girls aged five to nine years suffered brain injuries most often from ice hockey, sledding and tobogganning, while ringette and horseback riding were the most common recreational causes for brain injuries in girls aged 10 to 19 years.

If you or a loved one have suffered from personal injuries or a head injury as the result of an accident, contact the experienced and award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers today.  It is important that you call promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.   Contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free initial consultation. 


E-Scooters Lead to Injuries in Calgary


Like other big cities such as Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC, the city of Calgary has unleashed electric powered scooters, otherwise known as e-scooters, on its city streets.  Lime and Bird Canada are the companies behind the scooters in Calgary.

E-scooters are considered an easy, fun, inexpensive and efficient form of transportation, however, they are being met with a great deal of criticism.  Complaints include abandoned scooters littering sidewalks and being tossed in streams and injuries resulting from the use of e-scooters.

WHAT ARE E-SCOOTERS?

E-scooters are two-wheeled, narrow skateboards with a set of handlebars and a small motor, which are able to travel approximately 20 to 30 kilometres an hour.  Standing with one foot on the deck, you push off with the other foot and use a toggle on the right side of the handlebars to accelerate.  Your left hand operates the brake. 

E-scooters are battery powered and dockless, which means they can be left anywhere when riders are finished using them (including in the middle of a busy sidewalk).    

In the summer of 2018, Calgary passed a resolution authorizing a two-year pilot project for rental bicycles and e-scooters, which runs until October 2020, at which time they will re-evaluate and determine whether the scooters will remain for the long term.

Lime and Bird are the two companies operating these scooters as of July 2019, and a third company called Ugogo will be making its way into the marketplace in the future. 

The cost to rent Lime e-scooters is $1 to start and 30 cents for every minute thereafter.  Bird does not charge to unlock the scooter, but charges 35 cents for each minute of riding.  This price point makes it competitive with the cost of utilizing public transit.

Users of e-scooters can locate the most conveniently located e-scooter by using an app on their smartphone.  Once you find the scooter, you scan the QR code on the handlebars to unlock it.  New users can review a tutorial on how to ride and park the e-scooter on their smartphone.  Both Lime and Bird encourage riders to wear a helmet and they offer free helmets by request (you just have to pay for shipping). When you are finished using the scooter, you simply use the app to re-lock the scooter.

Stewart Lyons, CEO of Bird Canada, states:

We encourage those who are living in Calgary or visiting the city to try the e-scooters at least once.  That way they can not only experience what it’s like to ride Bird One, the best designed e-scooter in the market, but they can also see how easy it is to make communities like Calgary more livable by reducing congestion on the roads.

INJURIES ASSOCIATED WITH E-SCOOTERS

It has been reported that Calgary emergency rooms have examined 60 patients so far with e-scooter related injuries. 

Approximately a third of the injuries were fractures and 10% of the injuries were to the head or face.  Riders have also reported sprains, cuts and scrapes caused by the rear wheel of the scooter catching on the riders’ back ankles.

Researchers at the University of Calgary have begun studying the dangers associated with these e-scooters.  Dr. Eddy Lang is leading the study and is also a doctor in one of the emergency rooms in Calgary.  According to Dr. Lang:

Sixty people coming to the hospital in two weeks who wouldn’t otherwise come to the hospital is a big problem.  What we may find is this is just an early blip and things will settle down in time, but it’s certainly a significant health issue if we think it’s resulted in this many visits so far.

The city of Nashville, Tennessee, now has more than 4,000 rentable scooters.  Nashville quickly responded to the influx of these devices by setting up regulations to govern their use.  They are now struggling with enforcement as their police force isn’t prepared to handle the additional demand.  Safety has also become an important issue after a 26-year-old man was killed recently after being struck by a car while riding an e-scooter while he was under the influence of alcohol. 

SAFETY TIPS ASSOCIATED WITH E-SCOOTERS IN CALGARY

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide some rules and safety tips for those who plan on using e-scooters in Calgary:

  • Users must be 18 years of age. 
  • Only one individual can ride the scooter at a time.
  • It is strongly encouraged to wear a helmet while operating a scooter, although it is not illegal to ride without a helmet.
  • E-scooter users can only ride them on sidewalks, pathways and in bike lanes.  It is encouraged to use bike lanes instead of the sidewalk whenever possible.  It is illegal to use these scooters on city roads.
  • It is very important to watch out for pedestrians while operating the e-scooter. 
  • Proceed slowly through crosswalks.
  • Like all motor vehicles, you may not ride the scooters under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

As e-scooters are in their infancy phase in Canada, we will have to wait to see how the courts respond should any litigation arise out of injuries that have occurred during the use or operation of this mode of transportation.  We will continue to follow any developments and will report them in this blog.

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


Wrestler Bret Hart Sues Doctor Over Failed Wrist Surgery 

Bret Hart (“Hart”), a legendary wrestler known as The Hitman, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Justin Yeung in November 2017 alleging that he botched his wrist surgery and left him in constant pain.

Calgary plastic surgeon, Dr. Justin Yeung, has recently filed his statement of defence in this legal action and is denying all allegations of negligence arising out of his operation on Hart’s wrist.

WHO IS BRET HART?

Hart is a 62 year old man who was born into a wrestling family led by his father Stu Hart, founder of Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling.

Hart began wrestling professionally in 1978 and participated in nearly 3,000 matches until he retired.  He was very successful throughout the 1980s and 1990s in the WWE as a tag team with his brother-in-law, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.  He then wrestled solo and went to win the Intercontinental Championship in August 1991 and became a two-time holder of the title at WrestleMania VIII.  He proceeded to win additional titles throughout the 1990s.

Hart suffered a concussion in 1999 and a significant stroke in 2002, which left him partially paralyzed.  He recovered well.  He also underwent surgery for prostate cancer.  Unbelievably, he returned to WWE in 2010.

HART’S WRIST INJURY

Hart injured his right wrist during a wrestling match in 1981 when he chipped his scaphoid (one of the small bones that constitute the carpal bones of the wrist).  Over time, the injury worsened prompting him to visit Dr. Yeung in September 2015.  Hart underwent surgery in November 2015.

According to Hart’s statement of claim (legal document setting out the issues in dispute and the names of the disagreeing parties):

Dr. Yeung advised Mr. Hart that he could perform surgery to repair his right wrist by a partial fusion of the wrist bones.

Hart’s statement of claim goes on to allege that Dr. Yeung advised Hart that he would have no pain in his wrist and that movement would be restored.

Hart returned to see Dr. Yeung in January 2016 with complaints of severe pain in his wrist and that his right thumb and index finger did not function.  His complaints continued up to his follow-up visit in March 2016 wherein he contends that his “complaints were ignored”.

The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Yeung was negligent (failing to take proper care in doing something) and failed to advise Hart of all of the risks involved in the operation.

Hart alleges that as a result of the unsuccessful operation he is unable to use his right hand to pick up and use objects (i.e. pens, utensils), and is unable to properly dress himself without assistance. 

According to the lawsuit, Hart is seeking general damages of $1 million, plus unspecified amounts for lost income and other losses.

Hart is claiming the following:

  • Dr. Yeung and his team were negligent and breached their duties of care;
  • Dr. Yeung and his team left a tourniquet on Hart’s right arm for too long and cut off circulation to the nerves and tendons of his right index finger and thumb;
  • Hart’s right index finger and thumb were injured, immobilized, by the lack of oxygen they were supplied; and
  • Hart is incapable of participating in recreational and social activities.

DR. YEUNG’S DEFENCE

According to Dr. Yeung’s filed statement of defence (document prepared in response to a statement of claim), he maintains that he provided an acceptable level of care during and following the surgery.

The statement of defence reads:

Dr. Yeung denies any negligence on his part and states that the treatment provided to Hart was skillful, competent and careful and within the accepted standard of practice of plastic surgery in Calgary and elsewhere in Alberta.

Dr. Yeung states, and the fact is, that Hart was at all times made aware of the nature and risks of the procedure performed by Dr. Yeung.

Dr. Yeung claims that the surgery was uneventful and that he addressed all of Hart’s concerns as they became known.  As stated in his statement of defence:

Dr. Yeung ordered all appropriate investigations to address Hart’s post-operative concerns, including diagnostic imaging, urgent electrodiagnostic assessments, electrophysiologic evaluations and nerve conditions studies.

Dr. Yeung maintains that he made all appropriate referrals to address Hart’s complaints, including to physical medicine, rehabilitation specialists, a neurosurgeon and a neurologist.

We will continue to follow the developments in this lawsuit and will provide details of any information or updates in this blog.

This lawsuit is one example of a medical malpractice lawsuit commenced in Canada.  When a medical professional provides sub-standard, reckless or irresponsible care, patients and their families can suffer life-changing consequences.  If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical error or negligence, you need experienced and dependable legal counsel fighting for you.

At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones.  We can assemble a team of legal and medical experts to ensure that you put forth the strongest case and receive the compensation you are entitled to.  With over 20 years of experience, the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have handled many different types of medical malpractice claims, and have the experience and knowledge to evaluate your case and help you decide whether you should pursue a claim.  Call us at 403-571-0555 or online today to book a free consultation.


Spinal Cord Injuries and the Personal Injury Lawsuit

Motor vehicle accidents (35%) are the leading cause of spinal cord injury in Canada, followed by falls (17%).  In Canada, there are approximately 4,300 new spinal cord injuries each year.  The number of individuals living with spinal cord injuries is expected to increase to 121,000 by 2030 as the Canadian population ages and the causes of these injuries are likely to shift (i.e. older people falling rather than young males involved in motor vehicle accidents).

Spinal cord injuries devastatingly impact the individual, their family, their community and all of society.  The economic burden of new traumatic spinal cord injuries is approximately $2.7 billion per year in Canada.

WHAT IS A SPINAL CORD INJURY (SCI)?

SCI occurs when there is damage to the spinal cord caused by an injury or a disease.  The spinal cord itself is a bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the brain down the back.  The spinal cord is protected by vertebrae (bones that make up the spine) and sends message from the brain to control the body’s movements, provide nerve supply to internal organs and feel sensation in the rest of the body. 

When an individual suffers a complete SCI, messages can no longer transmit, resulting in the loss of feeling and loss of movement below the injured part of the spinal cord.

When an individual suffers an incomplete SCI, the amount of function varies depending on the nerves that have been damaged, and the muscles, organs or the area of sensation that they supply.

SCI can also affect bodily functions such as blood circulation, breathing, bowel and bladder control and sexual functions.

SCIs are characterized as quadriplegic if the injury is in the neck (cervical vertebrae) causing loss or impaired function and/or sensation in the arms, trunk and legs. 

SCIs are characterized as paraplegic as the result of a spinal cord lesion located at the thoracic vertebrae or lower down in the lumbar or sacro-coccygeal regions.  This type of injury causes an impaired function or sensation in the legs and possibly in the lower trunk, depending on the level of the injury.

WHAT CAUSES A SPINAL CORD INJURY?

Spinal cord injuries are either categorized as traumatic or non-traumatic.

A traumatic SCI occurs as a result of external impact or injury that damages the spinal cord.  The most common causes of this type of SCI are motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries (i.e. diving into shallow water) or the result of a violent attack.  It isn’t surprising that car accidents are the leading cause of spinal injuries as they are an almost daily occurrence throughout Alberta.

Falls are also a common source for spinal injuries, which are often the result of carelessness or negligence.  A failure to promptly clean up spills, poor lighting, ice, debris or obstacles on the floor, loose carpeting and damaged flooring are all examples of situations that may cause falls.  Spinal injuries resulting from fall accidents cause trauma to the neck and back after the impact of violently striking a hard surface.

Non-traumatic SCI occur when a disease, infection or tumor damages or presses on the spinal cord causing the loss of function.  Diseases such as multiple sclerosis can also cause lesions on the spinal cord that may result in paralysis.  A congential disorder, such as spina bifida, results in SCI where the spinal cord is malformed or exposed at birth.

IS THERE A CURE FOR SCI?

There is no cure for SCI, however, researchers are currently working toward understanding spinal cord injuries and research has shown the possibility of spinal cord repair and regeneration.  There have also been new advances to help those that suffer from SCI to better manage their quality of life.

HOW CAN SCI BE TREATED?

Those that suffer from SCI following an injury will move onto the rehabilitation stage once the victim has stabilized.  Through rehabilitation, the individual can learn how to live with their injury.  Physiotherapy may help the individual regain function and various therapists (physiatrist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, and/or rehabilitation counsellor) can help teach the individual to become self-sufficient.

Treatment can include:

  • Helping to regain or maximize the ability to use affected limbs and to maintain strength in unaffected limbs;
  • Teach new ways to move, transfer and care for oneself;
  • Teach long-term movement skills like walking with mobility aids or using a wheelchair;
  • Providing education and exercises to prevent future mobility problems.

Spinal cord injuries are considered both severe and catastrophic injuries and may result in significant compensation for accident victims arising from civil law suits involving victims who were injured due to the negligence of others.  Although monetary compensation will not resolve the trauma that victims of SCI face, it may help to ease the significant financial burden.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or another serious accident and suffer from spinal cord injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid claim.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  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.


Canada’s ‘Passenger Bill of Rights’ Began This Week

A portion of the new Air Passenger Protection Regulations went into effect earlier this week.  Although these new regulations were created to help air passengers, they are being met with criticism from both traveller advocacy groups and the airlines themselves.

NEW AIR PASSENGER PROTECTION REGULATIONS

The first phase of the new regulations require airlines to provide compensation up to $2,400 to passengers who are bumped from flights for reasons within the airline’s control.  Those passengers whose luggage is lost or damaged will be eligible for up to $2,100, and a refund for their baggage fees.

According to the regulations, airlines are required to adhere to standards of conduct during tarmac delays and allow passengers to leave the aircraft after a three-hour delay if take-off is not impending.  Airlines must also create clear policies with regards to the handling of musical instruments, and provide passengers with information about their rights and regular updates with respect to any delays and cancellations.

Additional requirements are to come into effect starting on December 15, 2019, including compensation of up to $1,000 for flight delays and cancellations that are within an airline’s control, but not related to safety.  There will also be a requirement that airlines rebook or refund passengers when flights are delayed.  This may include providing a ticket for another airline, providing food, drink and/or accommodations during flight delays, and making sure that children under 14 years of age are able to sit near their parents at no extra charge.

The key phrase included in these regulations is  “within an airline’s control”.  Thus, circumstances such as bad weather, emergency maintenance, airport operational problems or medical emergencies are not considered within an airline’s control and in these circumstances airlines will not be subjected to pay compensation.

CRITICISM OF THE REGULATIONS FROM BOTH SIDES

Gabor Lukacs, a passenger rights advocate, maintains that these new rules are making things worse for Canadians and is challenging the new regulations in court.

He states:

The government is duping the public.  Proving that a flight is overbooked is virtually impossible without access to the airline’s reservation system.

Lukacs is advocating for tarmac delays to be capped at 90 minutes and for refunds to be offered for all delays and cancellations outside of extreme circumstances.

The advocacy group, Air Passenger Rights, have argued that the new rules fall short of European Union passenger rights standards regarding delays caused by maintenance issues.

Both Air Canada and Porter Airlines (and 17 other applicants) filed an application for the new rules to be struck down and argued that the required payments violate international standards and could cause confusion for passengers.

According to the Air Transport Association of Canada, the national trade association for commercial aviation and the flight training industry, the compensation grid is “very high” and the new rules are “outrageous”.  The association maintains that these new regulations will lead to increased fares.

The government has not yet issued a formal response to the airlines’ legal challenge.

INJURIES DUE TO TURBULENCE

A recent Air Canada flight traveling from Vancouver to Australia was forced to make an emergency landing in Hawaii after 37 passengers on board were injured during turbulence.  Upon landing, thirty passengers were rushed to a local hospital, including flight crew, children and the elderly.  Nine of these passengers suffered serious injuries, and 21 suffered only minor injuries.  The remaining passengers opted not to go to hospital.

Michael Bailey, a passenger on board the turbulent flight, described the incident:

A lot of people hit the ceiling… It must have dropped like, 100 feet or something because everyone went up to the ceiling throughout the plane.  It was pretty scary.

Aviation analyst Phyl Durdey explained that injuries can occur when passengers’ seatbelts aren’t securely fastened.  If a plane hits unexpected turbulence, passengers who are not wearing seatbelts may hit the overhead bins resulting in neck and head injuries.  He emphasized the importance of always wearing your seatbelt while in the air throughout the entire flight.

Air Canada has confirmed that all injured passengers have been treated and released from hospital.

Passengers who have been injured during flights may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Passengers who are flying domestically may retain a lawyer and commence a claim against the airline in a similar fashion to any other civil claim commenced in Canada.  There is no cap on the compensation a passenger may receive.

Personal injury claims made by passengers who are flying internationally are regulated by a treaty called the Montreal Convention.  In order to file a claim for injuries sustained on an international flight, the passenger must have sustained an actual physical injury (emotional distress or inconvenience can not be the basis for a claim).  Passengers may be able to obtain compensation for the following types of damages:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages and lost earning capacity;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments;
  • Property damages; and
  • Expenses related to childcare and/or housekeeping expenses.

The onus is on the individual bringing the lawsuit to prove that the aircraft or airline was negligent in the circumstances.

There is also the possibility that the passenger may have done something to contribute to the injuries.  This is called “contributory negligence” and it may result in compensation being reduced.  For example, if a passenger was not wearing his/her seatbelt while the seatbelt light was flashing.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious personal injuries or damages as a result of an airplane-related incident or accident, you deserve to be compensated.  Please contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers for more information about your legal options.  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.


Dangers of Nerf Guns

High velocity projectile toys are very popular in Canada.  Many believe that these toys are safe because the darts that are used are “soft”.  However, these airsoft gun pellets, often found in Nerf brand products, can cause a variety of eye injuries.

Projectile toys have been found to cause serious eye injuries, including eye scrapes or scratches, bleeding, cataracts, increased eye pressure, blurred vision, torn or detached retinas and temporary or permanent vision loss.  Blurry vision may occur as a result of swelling in the retina following a traumatic eye injury.

EYE SPECIALIST WARNS PARENTS OF DANGERS OF NERF GUNS

University of Alberta eye specialist Dr. Matthew Tennant is advocating for safety rules surrounding Nerf guns after treating a woman who was accidentally hit in the eye by a Nerf dart fired from six metres away.  This resulted in the woman suffering a tear to her retina, which can result in permanent vision loss if left untreated.  Fortunately, Dr. Tennant treated the woman and she went on to recover. This case was documented in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology.

Dr. Tennant described the injury as follows:

You can think of the eye as a basketball.  When you bounce the ball, it compresses down and widens sideways.  Trauma can cause the same thing to the eye, and the sudden stretching causes a tear to the retina.

Dr. Tennant maintains that projectile weapons are being manufactured with better gun springs and heavier foam bullets than in the past.  Tests have demonstrated these guns can shoot darts and balls at speeds up to 69 km/h. 

Dr. Tennant is advocating for mandatory eye protection when using these types of airsoft projectile toys.  He is working with the Canadian Ophthalmological Society to create a policy statement about these types of toys, and others including paintball guns, in an effort to increase safety awareness among manufacturers and consumers.  Dr. Tennant maintains that this type of recommended eye protection is similar to face cages on helmets, which are required for minor hockey players, and seatbelts for passengers in vehicles.

Dr. Tennant stated:

The policy will likely state something along the lines of, ‘Children should not be using these without adult supervision’ and that anyone using these toys should be wearing eye protection, and preferably a face shield.

Hasbro, the company that makes Nerf guns, maintains that they go to great lengths to ensure that their toys are safe.  The toy company upholds that its products are not inherently dangerous when they are used properly and according to the recommended guidelines.

According to Julie Duffy, the senior vice-president of global communications for Hasbro:

Our products comply with all applicable global safety laws, regulations and standards.  Nerf foam darts and foam rounds are not hazardous when used properly.  Consumers must never aim Nerf blasters at a person’s eyes or face, should only use official Nerf darts, and never modify darts or blasters.

PROJECTILE TOYS TO LOOK OUT FOR

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that customers avoid purchasing all types of projectile-firing toys because of safety concerns. 

These are a few other toys that pose a high risk for eye injuries:

  1. Toy crossbows are able to shoot arrows nearly 150 feet, however their impact at close range can result in serious eye injury.  Arrows made from plastic can cause corneal abrasions (a scratch or scrape on your cornea) that can scar over when healed, and lead to permanent affects to vision.
  2. Darts are another type of toy that can injure the eye, and potentially cause hyphema (when blood collects inside the front of the eye between the cornea and the iris), which raises the risk of developing glaucoma.
  3. Water balloon launchers and water guns can cause trauma to the eye and a stream of water can serious damage to eyes, especially when used at close range.
  4. Toy wands, swords or sabers are also types of toys that can lead to eye trauma, if used carelessly.
  5. Aerosol string (silly string) is another product that can cause eye irritation, and if used at close range it can cause a corneal abrasion, which could lead to serious eye infections.
  6. Laser pointers and bright flashlights can also be dangerous and may lead to temporary blindness. They may also put children at risk of a fall or other accident.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide a few recommendations to parents to safeguard against injuries to their children when playing with Nerf guns or other toys that fire projectiles:

  • Do your research to ensure that you are selecting the safest model and accessories for your projectile toy and specifically pay attention to the manufacturer’s age recommendations.
  • Do not allow your children to use projectile toys unsupervised.
  • Be aware that although Nerf brand products are manufactured to comply with strict safety regulations, other brands that purport to be Nerf compatible may not.  There are some bullets made by other manufacturers that have a harder end and may pose a greater threat for injury.
  • Do not modify or allow your children to modify the guns, darts or blasters in an effort to shoot further, harder and faster.  Altering the toy in any way can deteriorate the safety measures built into the design of the toy and may result in trauma.
  • Do not allow your children to use projectile toys without eye protection.
  • Educate your children to never aim or shoot at anyone’s eyes or face.
  • Encourage your children to shoot at objects and not people.

If you or your loved one have experienced a serious personal injury or loss and would like information about your legal options, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced and award winning personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers.  Please contact our office for a free case evaluation online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve.


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