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Cuming & Gillespie's COVID-19 Statement - Read Post

Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie

Calgary Bike Shops Busier Than Ever: Follow These Safety Tips to Ensure a Safe Ride

Now that most activities in the city have been cancelled, such as soccer and baseball, kids and adults alike have turned to cycling as a way to stay happy, healthy and active.  According to Calgary bicycle shop owners, the rules of physical distancing and the increasingly warmer weather have increased the demand for new bicycles and the need to repair older bikes.

Bike shops are currently running out of supply and warehouses have been cleared out as well.  Some customers will have to wait until August to get their new bike. 

Repair shops are also finding themselves busier than ever.  It is recommended that customers call ahead to book an appointment for bike servicing.

Riding a bicycle is the perfect recreational activity that is compatible with physical distancing.  The required 2 metres of distance is approximately the distance of a bicycle, as noted by City of Calgary physical distancing guidelines.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH CYCLING

Although cycling is a fun activity and promotes a healthy lifestyle, there are some risks associated with it.  According to the Canadian Automobile Association and Statistics Canada, approximately 7,500 cyclists are injured every year.  

Most collisions with cyclists occur in intersections.  The most common circumstances involve a “right hook” and a “left cross” collision.  A “right hook” collision occurs when a cyclist gets hit by a car turning right and a “left cross” collision occurs when a motorist makes a left turn across a cyclist’s path.

LAW REGARDING BICYCLES

In Alberta, the law requires that cyclists and their passengers that are under the age of 18 must wear an approved bicycle safety helmet.

Bicycles are also considered vehicles and therefore must follow the rules of the road like drivers of other vehicles.  Therefore, cyclists must comply with all traffic control signals and stop signs and must use the proper lane when making left hand turns.

According to the City of Calgary Traffic Bylaw and the Use of Highway and Rules of the Road Regulation, cyclists must not ride on sidewalks and must ride as close as possible to the right curb or the left curb if on a one way street.

According to various regulations in Calgary, bicycles must be equipped with the following equipment:

  • Horn or bell;
  • A brake;
  • A white headlight, red taillight and red rear reflector, if operating at night (1/2 hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise on pathways and 1 hour after sunset to 1 hour before sunrise on roadways); and
  • Lights must be on at night or when visibility is less than 150m.

Other vehicles on the roadway should pay attention and give extra consideration to cyclists as they are much smaller and less visible.  Drivers should be especially careful when preparing to make a right hand turn.  Always check your blind spot to the right before proceeding. 

It is also important to look out for cyclists when opening your vehicle door and only do so when it is safe.  It is a good idea not to follow too closely behind cyclists as they do not have brake lights to warn others when they are preparing to stop. 

When children are riding bicycles be aware that they may not have the knowledge or skills to proceed safely in traffic.

HOW TO PREVENT HEAD INJURIES FOR CHILDREN

For children, head injuries are one of the leading causes of death.  Wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet can cut the risk of serious head injury to children by approximately 80%.

A properly fitted helmet should sit two fingers above your eyebrow, with straps forming a “v” under your ears and one finger space between the strap and the chin.  The helmet must be certified, securely attached to a strap and free of damage or modification that would reduce its effectiveness.

Although the law states that those under 18 must wear a helmet, it is strongly advised that helmets be worn by those of all ages to prevent a serious brain injury or damage to the skull.

CYCLING SAFETY TIPS

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers encourages everyone to enjoy cycling and to practice safe cycling by following these safety tips:

  1. Always ride in single file and keep a safe distance from cyclists in front of you to avoid a collision if they stop short.
  2. Wear a helmet every time you ride to increase your risk of survival if you are in a bike accident.
  3. Ride slowly and carefully during inclement weather.
  4. Make yourself visible.  Wear bright clothing and clothing with reflective material, add extra lights to your bike and use reflectors. 
  5. Ride with care and remain distraction-free.  Do not use mobile devices or headphones while cycling to reduce distractions.
  6. Communicate while cycling by using hand signals when turning, slowing down or stopping.  Use your bell or your voice when necessary.
  7. Follow the rules of the road by obeying all traffic signals, signs and right-of-way rules.
  8. Always yield to foot traffic and slow down in pedestrian areas.
  9. Avoid drinking and cycling, which can affect the ability to operate the bicycle in a safe manner.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious personal injuries as a result of a bicycle 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.


Safety Around the Backyard Swimming Pool

The temperatures are beginning to rise and summer is getting closer.  It’s that time of the year again when we can all get outside to enjoy barbeques, outdoor fun and relaxing by the backyard swimming pool. 

With the excitement of splashing around in a backyard swimming pool also comes the responsibility of keeping those that use the pool safe.  As a property owner or occupier you can be held legally responsible for any injuries or deaths that take place in or around your swimming pool.

The Alberta Occupiers’ Liability Act requires that property owners and occupiers take all reasonable steps to ensure that activities engaged in on their premises are safe. 

WHAT IS AN OCCUPIER?

In Alberta, the Occupiers’ Liability Act (“OLA”) establishes the law governing the legal responsibility than an occupier has towards those that are invited on their premises.

Under the OLA, an occupier is an individual who has control over the property that guests are invited to.  This can include homeowners, managers, tenants and those who rent venues for events.  It is also possible for there to be more than one legal occupier at one time.

DUTY OF CARE TO VISITORS

As an occupier, it is your responsibility and duty to keep guests reasonably safe while they are on your property.  This includes keeping the premises safe and free of dangers.  This duty of care is set out in the OLA, which states that occupiers must take care to ensure that visitors to their property will be “reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which the visitor is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there”.

TYPES OF SWIMMING POOL HAZARDS

It is not uncommon for injuries around the swimming pool to occur.  The most common injuries include slip and falls, accidents arising out of poorly maintained properties or poorly maintained decks or railings, and accidents resulting from excessive alcohol or marijuana consumption.

Most childhood drownings occur in swimming pools.  Unfortunately, it takes very little time for a young child to drown.  The vast majority of childhood drownings occur when a child was left alone.

It is the duty of the property owner or occupier to monitor their guests’ activities and ensure they are following the necessary swimming pool rules.  A failure to take reasonable care to keep people safe, particularly in the case of young children who are particularly vulnerable and at risk, may result in a civil lawsuit.

SAFETY TIPS FOR RESIDENTIAL SWIMMING POOLS

Cuming & Gillespie LLP suggest that the following precautions be taken to ensure safety when using or inviting guests to use a backyard swimming pool.

  1. All pool owners should be certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
  2. Ensure appropriate pool safety equipment is available at all times:  This includes personal flotation devices for young children or weak swimmers, a shepherd’s hook, throw ropes with ring buoys, safety signage (reminding guests not to run, jump or dive where appropriate), non-penetrating pool cover and a first aid kid.
  3. Keep all areas free of obstacles:  Ensure that hazardous items such as pool toys, shoes and towels are removed from the pool deck to avoid trip and falls.
  4. Always provide supervision:  Children should never be left unattended around a swimming pool.  Adults must be present at all times.
  5. Practice safe habits:  It is always best to be prepared for an emergency.  Cleaning up after using pool toys, covering the pool when it is not in use, knowing how to call 911 in an emergency and knowing how to use lifesaving equipment are a few examples of how to practice safe habits around an outdoor swimming pool.
  6. Ensure regular inspections:  It is important to regularly inspect the items used in and around a pool, including the diving board, slide and flotation equipment. Do not allow glass around the pool:  Glass can fall into the pool or on the pool deck and cause a very dangerous situation.
  7. Illumination:  To ensure safety at night, the swimming pool, swimming pool deck and patio should be appropriately illuminated to promote the safety of all guests using the swimming pool.
  8. Teach your children how to swim and teach them pool safety rules:  Prevention is the best way to keep children safe around swimming pools.
  9. Fencing should be a minimum of 1 metre high and surround the pool on all four sides.
  10. Supervise all pool activities, especially when serving alcohol.

If you or a loved one have been in an accident and suffered serious injuries at a backyard swimming pool owned by someone else, please contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers.  Our experienced legal team can investigate your claim to try to determine whether the property owner failed to meet his/her legal duty to keep the pool and surrounding area safe.  Our firm offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case and your legal options. 

Please contact Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 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.


E-Scooters Return to Calgary – Safety Reminders

Last week, Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced that shared electric scooters will be making a reappearance in Calgary this spring on a trial basis.

Unlike last year, only 150 scooters per company fleet (Bird and Lime) will be introduced on a trial basis from May 22 to June 22, 2020 out of an abundance of caution.  The trial run will be closely monitored by the local administration and a determination will then be made as to whether to increase the fleet size.   

Some are concerned that the scooters will increase the spread of the deadly virus through the community.  However, bikeshare systems are continuing to operate during the pandemic throughout Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and they have not been connected to any COVID-19 transmission cases.

NEW CHANGES TO THE USE OF E-SCOOTERS

The City of Calgary will be adopting a few modifications to e-scooter usage following a series of public engagement events and the solicitation of online feedback.

Slow speed zones will be enforced along 9th Avenue SE in Inglewood, along 10 Street and Kensington Road in Kensington and along 4th Street SW in Mission.  In these areas, e-scooters are only permitted to travel 15 km/h maximum. 

The city will also be imposing new fines to address public safety concerns and those that exhibit poor behaviour, as follows:

  • A $75.00 fine for doubling up on a scooter;
  • A $150.00 fine for using a scooter where prohibited or interfering with use while riding;
  • A $400.00 fine for reckless travel or for colliding with a pedestrian.

Calgary has also created “Share and Go” zones for scooters to provide more accessible parking for these vehicles.  There will also be painted areas along pathways and bike lanes to demonstrate the designated scooter parking spots.  If these parking zones are not available, users are encouraged to park the scooters on sidewalks in line with bike racks, trees or trash bins.

MAYOR ISSUES SAFETY WARNINGS AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Nenshi is strongly advising that riders exercise essential health and safety measures if they choose to operate a scooter.  He warns that the scooters will not be cleaned after each use.  Mayor Nenshi advises:

These are shared devices – these are high touch zones.  Someone will have touched it before you, they are not sanitized between users.  So you need to mitigate that risk.  You have to use hand sanitizer on your hands, give the handlebars and other high-touch areas a quick wipe down before and after use.

E-scooter users are also reminded not to touch their faces while travelling and to exercise social distancing measures by remaining at least two-metres between users and pedestrians.

ADDITIONAL SAFETY CONCERNS

Although many are concerned about the risk of contamination due to the sanitation of e-scooters, others are more concerned about the general safety associated with the use of electric scooters. 

The introduction of e-scooters in Calgary last spring was a huge success with a recorded 750,000 e-scooter trips between July and October.  According to a city survey, one in three e-scooter riders would have driven a car had an e-scooter not been available.  That amounts to 250,000 fewer car trips.

One of the concerns surrounding the use of e-scooters were potential injuries.  According to a municipal report, there were 33 e-scooter injuries that required the use of an ambulance.  Thirty-two of them involved the rider of the e-scooter and only one involved a pedestrian.  Only seven of the 33 individuals required an admission to the hospital.

The municipal report found the most common causes of injury associated with the operation of e-scooters last year included speed, losing control, hitting a pothole or a stationary such as a pole.

Interestingly, only one of the 33 individuals who required an ambulance following an injury last year was wearing a helmet.  Although you are not required to wear a helmet while operating an e-scooter, it is strongly encouraged.  Both Lime and Bird offer free helmets to their customers, you just have to pay for shipping. 

Because e-scooters are lighter and smaller than anything else on the road, they are inherently more dangerous than other vehicles.  They are less stable and more vulnerable to potholes and cracks. 

E-scooters have the ability to travel up to 20 km/h.  A collision between a scooter and another vehicle or another object can result in serious personal injury.  Those travelling on e-scooters also lack the protection afforded of motor vehicle drivers. 

SAFETY TIPS FOR OPERATING E-SCOOTERS

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

  • Users must be 18 years of age. 
  • Only one individual can ride the scooter at a time (this also reinforces social distancing measures).
  • It is strongly encouraged to wear a helmet while operating a scooter to prevent head injuries.
  • E-scooter users can only ride their vehicles on sidewalks, pathways and in bike lanes. It is illegal to use these scooters on city roads.
  • It is very important to watch out for pedestrians while operating the e-scooter.
  • It is also important not to be distracted while operating an e-scooter (put away your mobile device).
  • Obey all traffic laws and be respectful of rights of way.
  • Proceed slowly through crosswalks.
  • As with all motor vehicles, you may not operate an e-scooter under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

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.  Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have many years of successfully handling claims for those victims injured through the fault of others.  We will review your case to determine the best approach to take and how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.  Call our office today for a free consultation.


Long-Term Care and COVID-19: The Advantages of an Independent Lawsuit

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect, particularly when it comes to Canada’s nursing homes. In fact, it was reported that 81% of the reported deaths in Canada related to COVID-19 to date occurred at long-term care facilities.

According to Alberta Health, McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre (MTCCC), a long-term care facility located in Calgary and operated by Revera Living, has 127 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date and 21 residents have died as a result.

A class action lawsuit was recently filed against Revera Living, alleging negligence and a failure to follow proper protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which could have prevented the fatalities at the facility.  Not surprising given the complexity of class actions, this has raised a number of questions for residents of MTCCC and family members. As a firm that has successfully prosecuted numerous class action and medical negligence claims, it is our intention through this article to provide answers and clarity to those whose loved ones have been impacted by COVID-19 at MTCCC or other continuing care facilities.

Below, we will go over exactly what a class action lawsuit is and what options exist for those who may fall within a class action. However, more briefly, there are a few important facts to know:

  • A class action lawsuit has to be approved by the Court before it can proceed – the proposed class action lawsuit against Revera in relation to MTCCC has not been approved and it is unknown if or when it will be approved.
  • All claims are subject to specific limitations, which if not met, can result in the loss of ability to pursue the claim. If you do not file an individual claim within the limitation period and the proposed class action is either not approved or your claim does not fall under it, you could lose your right to sue.
  • Even if a class action is approved by the Court, it may not be in your best interest for your claim to be included in that. You have the right to opt-out of a class action and retain your own lawyer to proceed with an individual lawsuit on your behalf.

If you have questions about class actions or about the care your loved one has received in a continuing care facility, please phone the lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie at 403-571-0555. We are available to help.

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action lawsuit is a civil lawsuit commenced by one or more representative plaintiffs on behalf of a larger group, also known as the class members. The purpose of a class action is to have common or similar claims resolved in a single proceeding with the result of the lawsuit binding upon all class members and the opposing parties.

The representative plaintiff is a class member who represents the entire class in the action. The representative plaintiff must fairly and adequately represent the interests of the entire class, and not have a conflict of interest with any of the other class members. They must have a plan for pursuing the action and provide notice to the other class members.

A class action begins with the Certification Stage. This is when the court is asked to approve the claim to proceed as a class action. This phase can take a long time to complete. 

In Alberta, in order to be certified by the court as a class action the following must be demonstrated:

  • That there is a suitable representative plaintiff for the class;
  • That the claims of the prospective class members raise a common issue;
  • That a class proceeding is the preferable procedure for the fair and efficient resolution of the common issues;
  • That the Statement of Claim discloses a cause of action; and
  • That there is an identifiable class of two or more persons.

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, courts in Alberta are not currently hearing any non-urgent cases or applications. Class certification applications have not been identified by the Courts as “urgent”.

The Opt-Out System

If an individual is covered by the definition of a class and chooses to take part in a class action, there is no action to take.  However, if an individual wants to preserve his/her right to pursue an individual civil action, he/she may opt-out of the class action by a prearranged date following the certification of the class action. If an individual does not formally opt-out of the class action, he/she, along with all other class members, is automatically bound by the results of the class action.

In a large class-action lawsuit, the settlement process can be very time-consuming. The court will prescribe a period of time during which members must make a claim and the individual must provide proof that he/she falls within the definition of the class and the extent to which he/she suffered injury or damages.

What Are the Advantages of Pursuing an Individual Lawsuit?

Proceeding with an individual lawsuit rather than a class proceeding has the advantage of enabling the individual to control their lawsuit, as opposed to allowing the representative plaintiff and his/her lawyer to steer the matter. The individual plaintiff can determine whether to accept or reject a settlement offer or proceed to trial. The individual plaintiff has the advantage of controlling their own case and will not be bound by decisions made on behalf of the entire class. 

A class action lawsuit can disadvantage the individuals making up the class in that they may receive only a small percentage of the total compensation if the lawsuit is successful. Further, if the class proceeding is unsuccessful, the individual plaintiffs are prohibited from filing individual lawsuits at a later date. 

Although a class action lawsuit against Revera Living on behalf of those that have perished due to exposure to COVID-19 while living at MTCCC has been filed, it has not yet been certified by the courts. This process may take some time given that the court system is not hearing non-urgent cases at this time.

Individuals who have been exposed to and affected by the deadly virus at MTCCC or any other long-term care facility are not obligated to join this class proceeding or any others that may be currently awaiting certification by the court. Anyone seeking compensation due to negligence from a long-term care facility should consult their own legal representative to consider all of their options.

If you have been affected by a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility, you should speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the benefits of pursuing an individual lawsuit. It is crucial to do this quickly to ensure action is taken within the prescribed limitation period.

The personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers are committed to helping you and your loved ones. If a member of your family has become infected with COVID-19 or has suffered a serious injury or significant harm due to nursing home 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. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation with any questions you may have regarding hiring a lawyer for your personal injury or medical malpractice case. 


Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

The month of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month.  Operating a motorcycle is inherently dangerous given the lack of protection, high speed and increased likelihood for loss of control and collision.

Motorcyclists have all of the same rights and freedoms as other motor vehicle drivers.  They are entitled to the same room to ride safely and they must also follow all of the same rules of the road in order to maintain safety.  The safety of motorcyclists is not only the concern of riders, but also the responsibility of car and truck drivers. 

As the weather continues to improve and motorcycles appear on the roadway this month, the Transportation Minister Ric McIver stated:

I would like to remind all motorists of the role they play in keeping motorcyclists safe.  Due to their smaller size, motorcycles are often hard to see and require extra room to prevent serious accidents. 

When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle and are more likely to be injured or killed.  In a typical year, about 30 motorcyclists die and more than 600 are injured on Alberta roads.

MOTORCYCLING DURING THE PANDEMIC

The International Motorcycling Federation, the global governing body for motorcycle racing, announced last month its #RidersAtHome initiative.  This campaign encourages motorcycle riders from around the world to behave in a responsible manner and to take care of each other. 

The Federation stated:

Even though riding is still permitted in some countries – the FIM is requesting that ALL riders keep their motorcycles parked in order to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries that could take up valuable healthcare resources during a period when they are already under great pressure.

In Alberta, it appears that motorcyclists have been given the ok to return to the roadways as long as they adhere to some conditions and take all safety measures to reduce the risk of collisions.  These conditions include considering whether the ride is necessary, avoiding riding in groups of 5 or larger, practicing safe riding behaviours and following the guidelines of social distancing. 

Alberta Sheriffs Superintendent Rick Gardner stated:

We are always committed to raising awareness about safe motorcycling so that we all get to our destinations safely.  That being said, we remind all motorcycle riders to stay home when possible and respect COVID-19 related restrictions.

MOST COMMON TYPES OF MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT INJURIES

Riders who have been involved in a motorcycle accident have a much greater chance of suffering serious injury than they would in other types of accidents.  The following are the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries:

  • Head and brain injuries:  These types of injuries occur when the head violently contacts other vehicles or objects.  Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of injury and even death.
  • Broken bones and joints:  The most common motorcycle accident injuries to occur are breakages to elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and wrists.
  • Spinal cord injuries:  Spinal cord injuries may occur as a result of the rider’s head hitting the pavement.  Helmets, unfortunately, do not provide much protection against spinal cord injury.  Spinal cord injuries may result in paraplegia or quadriplegia, which may be temporary or permanent. 
  • Lacerations and abrasions:  Road rash is an injury that occurs when a rider slides sideways across the pavement following an accident.  Concrete rubs against any exposed skin as the body skids across the pavement at a high rate of speed.  This type of injury can lead to more permanent damage such as skin irritations, infections and in some cases surface nerve damage.  To protect against road rash, it is advisable to wear protective clothing covering arms and legs in leather or heavy denim, wearing boots or shoes high enough to cover the ankles and gloves to protect the hands.
  • Permanent physical and emotional scars:  Burns, facial injuries, amputated limbs and severe lacerations may occur following a motorcycle accident.  As a result of this disfigurement, crash victims often suffer depression or other types of emotional trauma.

TIPS TO PRACTICE SAFE RIDING BEHAVIOURS

The Alberta RCMP are encouraging motorcyclists to practice the following safety tips:

  • Wear the appropriate gear:  All riders should wear an approved motorcycle helmet, shatter-proof eye protection and durable weather-proof and protective clothing.
  • Stay in sight:  All riders should stay out of blind spots on roadways and remain visible in parking lots to ensure that drivers are aware of your presence.  This includes dressing brightly to ensure you remain noticeable on the roads.
  • Drive defensively:  Be sure to be aware of your surroundings, share the road and change lanes with extreme caution.
  • Do not drive impaired:  Consuming alcohol, narcotics or prescription medication that can make you dizzy or drowsy can impair your ability to balance, steer, control speed and judge distances.
  • Eliminate distracted driving:  Avoid using cell phones or other hand-held devices while operating a motorcycle.
  • Inspect and maintain your motorcycle:  It is important to inspect your motorcycle before driving and pay attention to proper tire pressure; look for worn or uneven tire tread and damage to the tread; ensure that all pedals, levers and switches are in good working order; clean and adjust all mirrors;  test the front and rear brakes independently;  check for broken strands, kinks or bindings;  check the headlight and tail light; and check the fuel and oil levels.
  • Practice:  All riders should practice their riding on safe roads away from high traffic areas and highways to ensure that they are comfortable and confident in their riding skills on the road.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, the personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have many years of experience successfully handling claims for those victims injured through the fault of others.  Please contact the award winning and experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 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.  Call our office today for a free consultation.


Pregnancy and Car Accidents

Car accidents are often a traumatic experience for everyone involved.  For those who are pregnant, being involved in a car accident can be even more distressing and dangerous.

Pregnant women may be at a higher risk of a car accident, especially during the second trimester, according to a six year study of more than 500,000 women.  The study found that during the second trimester of pregnancy women were 42% more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than they were three years before the pregnancy. 

Following a motor vehicle accident, pregnant women may experience vaginal bleeding or spotting, leakage of fluid or increased vaginal discharge, swelling of the face or fingers, severe and constant headaches, abdominal pain, pain in the shoulders, persistent vomiting not associated with morning sickness, chills or fever, changes in the unborn child’s movements, faintness or dizziness.  Theses types of symptoms may occur within hours, days, weeks or even months following an accident. 

TYPES OF INJURIES WOMEN CAN SUFFER AS A RESULT OF A CAR ACCIDENT

There are increased risks of complications for pregnant women that are involved in car accidents.  Some of the most common injuries suffered by pregnant women as a result of a motor vehicle accident include:

  • Premature Birth:  A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered premature.  Studies have shown higher rates of preterm labour of those women involved in car accidents.  Doctors may be able to stop preterm labour with medication and other interventions.  There are cases where a baby is born prematurely and in some cases are unable to survive or suffer from permanent disabilities as a result.
  • High-Risk Pregnancy:  The pregnancy may be designated as high-risk following a car accident.  A pregnancy deemed high-risk often involves additional doctor’s visits, more medications, more ultrasounds and additional electronic fetal monitoring.  For the pregnant mother, this situation often adds additional stress and worry about the unborn child.
  • Placental Abruption:  Placental Abruption is a serious condition occurring when the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before the baby is born.  Abdominal trauma suffered in a car accident can increase the chance of placental abruption.  If this occurs, the pregnancy becomes high-risk and requires careful monitoring and added stress.
  • Uterine Injury:  During pregnancy the uterus is enlarged and is therefore more susceptible to injury.  If the pregnant mother’s uterine is to rupture as a result of a car accident, there is a very high mortality rate for the unborn child and a greater risk of death for the mother.  A uterine injury can also cause internal bleeding, which threatens both the life of the unborn child and mother.
  • Miscarriage:  Unborn babies are protected by the uterus, amniotic fluid, placenta and other structures of the mother’s abdominal cavity.  However, if the mother is involved in a serious car accident and subjected to powerful forces, the baby may be unable to endure the trauma. 

Pregnant women are also more prone to severe stress or emotional trauma after a car accident due to their concern for their unborn baby.  The stress following an accident alone may cause pregnancy complications.  In fact, studies of pregnant women who are suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) found that these women are more likely to give birth to a premature or low weight baby.

IS IT SAFE TO WEAR A SEATBELT WHILE PREGNANT?

All experts agree that the most effective way to lower injuries in car accidents is for everyone, including pregnant women, to wear a seatbelt.

It is recommended that pregnant women wear a lap and shoulder belt combination.  The lap belt should be positioned under the pregnant stomach, touching the thighs, and low on the mother’s hip bones.  The shoulder strap should fit snugly through the middle of the shoulder and between the expecting mother’s breasts. 

If the pregnant woman is driving a vehicle, it is important that she keep her stomach a protected distance away from the airbag.  The mother’s breast bone should be at least 10 inches away from the dashboard or steering wheel. 

WHAT TO DO AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT WHEN PREGNANT?

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident while pregnant, even if you believe that it was a minor accident, you should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible. 

Your medical professionals will know whether you require treatment and will advise you of the appropriate treatment to begin while you are pregnant.  They may also recommend proceeding with additional tests depending on your condition and the stage of your pregnancy.

Once you have been examined and return home, you should continue to look for subsequent vaginal bleeding, leaking fluid, contractions or other abdominal pain, or a decline in the baby’s movement.  If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor immediately.

If you have suffered pregnancy complications as a result of a motor vehicle accident that was caused by a third party, you may be able to file a legal claim against the responsible party.  It is important to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim.  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.


The Role of Witnesses

Witnesses are an important component that can help strengthen your personal injury or medical malpractice claim.  Witnesses can bolster your position and may even provide useful information to prove who is at fault in the case of an accident, for example.

For personal injury cases, eyewitnesses who can provide evidence regarding why your accident and resulting injuries occurred and medical experts who can testify about your specific injuries and their impact on your life are examples of witnesses that can help bolster your claim.

In terms of medical malpractice cases, expert testimony is required as the facts are usually too complex for those who are not doctors to determine if the patient’s doctor should be held liable for the patient’s injury.    

TYPES OF WITNESSES

There are two types of witnesses in a personal injury case, lay witnesses and expert witnesses.  A lay witness is an individual who is not an expert, but can provide useful information about what he/she observed (i.e. how an accident happened).  Lay witnesses can only offer their opinion about what they saw or their perception of the situation.

On the other hand, an expert witness, is an individual with unique skills, knowledge, experience, education or training that makes him/her qualified to provide an opinion about an issue in question (i.e. how the victim’s injuries are linked to the accident).  Expert witnesses can be used by both sides of a legal case to help explain a complex element of a case to judges and juries.

Unlike lay witnesses, expert witnesses provide unbiased and objective testimony.  Experts are also allowed to provide inferences based upon the facts and evidence in a case, which may help clarify an issue that is unclear to a judge or jury.

TYPES OF EXPERT WITNESSES

There are numerous types of expert witnesses that are helpful during settlement negotiations or at trial.  Expert witness opinions are relied upon to help persuade an insurance company or opposing party to agree to an appropriate settlement.  Their opinions are also very helpful to educate a judge or jury about an issue involved in the case if the matter proceeds to trial.

The type of witnesses required for an individual’s case is dependent upon the type of accident that occurred and the type of injuries that occurred.  Each individual’s claim is different and some may require several expert witnesses to prove their claim.

An accident reconstruction expert may be hired to explain how an accident took place.  This type of expert can analyze information related to the accident in an effort to explain how the accident occurred.

Medical experts, including surgeons, doctors, medical technicians and other professionals, are often used to provide opinions regarding the extent of the victim’s injuries, treatment, the effect of the injury on the victim and the likely cause of the injuries.  In the case of a medical malpractice lawsuit, medical experts are used to provide opinion evidence regarding the appropriate standard of care in the circumstances and how the doctor, nurse or medical facility failed to meet that standard of care.

Mental health professions, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, are experts that provide valuable opinions regarding the mental effects that an injury has had on a victim. 

A rehabilitation specialist is often used in personal injury cases to provide an opinion regarding the future medical needs of the injured party.

An economic expert is a type of expert used in almost every personal injury case to provide an opinion regarding the economic impact that the victim has suffered as a result of the injury, including his/her earning capacity. 

In the case of a defective product, a manufacturing expert may be used to provide an opinion regarding how the product in question was poorly designed, manufactured or marketed.

For slip and fall cases, property experts, including contractors, builders or property inspectors, may be called upon to provide information on how the property should be kept and maintained and whether the stairway, for example, was not up to code.

EXPERT WITNESS CREDENTIALS

Your personal injury lawyer will be able to determine which type of experts are required for your particular case.  The expert witnesses that your lawyer chooses for your case will likely have the following credentials:

  • A high level of experience in their field;
  • Experience in providing legal testimony;
  • Has been published in professional journal articles or books;
  • Has teaching experience or the ability to explain challenging ideas to laypersons; and
  • Has qualifications that distinguish him/her as a professional in his/her field.

It is the duty of an expert is to provide an unbiased opinion in a clear manner, no matter who hires them and how much they are paid.  It is especially important that an expert only provide evidence regarding an issue that is within his/her area of expertise.

Choosing the right personal injury lawyer is the first step in the difficult process of commencing a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit.  A lawyer who is knowledgeable and has expertise will be able to guide you through the complicated, time-consuming and risky litigation process. 

A law firm that specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice law will be able to contact a team of medical experts to help you present your case and can make a difference in the eventual outcome of your case.  At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, 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 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.


Class Action Lawsuit Sought Against Nursing Home in Quebec Following COVID-19 Related Deaths

An application for a class action lawsuit has been filed in Quebec Superior Court against Residence Herron, a private long-term care home in Dorval, Quebec, a suburb in Montreal.

The class action lawsuit was commenced by the lead plaintiff, Barbara Schneider (“Barbara”), the daughter of 93-year-old Mary Schneider (“Mary”), who died at the Residence Herron on April 10, 2020.

The lawsuit demands compensation as follows:

  • $25,000 on behalf of the estate of the deceased individuals and the current residents of the Residence Herron; and
  • $10,000 for immediate family members of those residents that died or currently reside at Residence Herron.

The lawsuit also seeks $2 million in punitive damages for allegedly failing to respect the residents’ rights to personal security and dignity as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

What Happened?

In February 2020, Mary Schneider (“Mary”) moved into Residence Herron after suffering a fall and recovering at Montreal General Hospital.  Her daughter, Barbara, agreed to pay $4,500 a month for her care and signed an agreement to this.

Mary could ambulate with a walker and feed herself, although she did require help getting dressed and with bathing.

Barbara spoke with her mother regularly and visited every other day until March 14, 2020 when Quebec barred all visitors from seniors’ residences due to concerns of spreading COVID-19.

Barbara spoke to her mother daily up until March 24, 2020.  After being unable to contact her mother, a nurse finally arranged a video chat.  Barbara was shocked to see that her mother was frail and gaunt. 

On April 8, 2020, Barbara learned that her mother had become infected with COVID-19.  Mary died two days later.  There were also 30 other residents that died at the home in less than a month.

The proposed class action lawsuit claims that the residents were denied their rights and were “subjected to neglect, mistreatment, pain and discomfort”.

Response From the Long Term Care Residence

Katasa Group, the operator of Residence Herron, is owned by Samir Chowieri and his three daughters.  The company runs seven long-term care facilities in Quebec.  The Chowieri family has advised that the staff at the Herron Residence had difficulty containing the virus and keep its employees working as they were facing a shortage of personal protective equipment for staff, despite their efforts and requests to the government to help obtain these necessary supplies.

According to Katherine Chowieri,

We did everything in our power, and we did everything to offer all services to each of the patients that we had – or each of our residents and offer the services.  We never ended a day without ensuring that services were rendered to each patient.

Katasa Group maintains that the regional health authority took over the operations of the private long-term care residence on March 29th and was in charge when most of the deaths transpired. 

In a statement, the regional health authority, the West Island CIUSSS, reported that it intervened on March 29th when it learned that the Residence Herron was severely understaffed and that residents lacked food and basic personal care.  They maintain that the owners of the home refused to co-operate and legal measures became necessary to gain access to medical records.  The regional health authority contends that it began managing Residence Herron on April 8.

Health Minister Danielle McCann is awaiting the results of three investigations that are currently taking place before commenting on the discrepancies made between the owners of Residence Herron and the regional health authority.  There are 31 recorded resident deaths since March 13, with at least five deaths being attributed directly to COVID-19.  According to Minister McCann, she has been told that the situation at Residence Herron is under control and that a team is on site from the health authority to provide proper care to all residents.

None of the allegations contained in the class action application have been proven in court.  The class-action lawsuit requires authorization by the court.  This will likely not take place until the legal system resumes its normal operation.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers will continue to follow the developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on long-term care facilities in Canada and will report on any updates in this blog.

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, the personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers may be able to help you obtain financial compensation.  Our legal team will meet with you and evaluate your legal options to help you decide whether to pursue a claim.  Contact our knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyers to learn what options are available at 403-571-0555 or online today.


Nursing Homes Struggle with COVID-19

As the number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to rise amongst seniors in long-term care facilities across Canada, new restrictions are being implemented in Alberta at the advice of the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to manage the pandemic devastating our most vulnerable population.

There are over 400,000 Canadians living in residential care facilities throughout the country.  The average age of these residents is 82 years old, with many of them suffering from multiple medical conditions and ingesting an average of 10 medications per day.  Most of the elderly residents require constant care to assist with activities such as toileting, feeding and simply getting out of bed. 

The majority of these seniors, approximately 70%, have been diagnosed with dementia.  Identifying COVID-19 in those suffering from dementia is problematic as the diagnosis often relies upon the recognition and reporting of symptoms.  Furthermore, older adults tend to have atypical signs of the virus, including the absence of cough or fever. 

Residents in nursing homes are also more vulnerable given that they have more compromised immune systems, share common areas and are subject to frequent visitors and workers entering from outside the facility.

Bobcaygeon Seniors Home Suffers COVID-19 Outbreak

The town of Bobcaygeon, a small Ontario community made up of 3,500 people, is the perfect example of just how vulnerable nursing homes are to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Pinecrest Nursing Home has fallen victim to an outbreak of the devastating virus, which to date has killed 29 residents, one visiting spouse and infected 24 staff members.  More deaths are expected.

Pinecrest Nursing Home is in an old single-storey building.  Up to four residents occupy each room separated only by curtains.  The facility itself was understaffed long before COVID-19 began to spread in Canada.  It was nearly impossible to isolate residents given the space limitations of the ageing building. 

Pinecrest Administrator Mary Carr wrote in a statement:

Pinecrest plans for and prioritizes infection control – whether it is the flu or the common cold.  Unfortunately, the severity of COVID-19 has presented unique challenges for our staff and our facility.  At the beginning of this outbreak, we followed existing outbreak management plans, including the isolation of symptomatic residents.  However, due to the size of the home and limited front-line capacity, we have been faced with unprecedented circumstances.

Challenges Facing Nursing Homes During COVID-19

Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist who has been studying computer modelling with recent data, describes the risk to seniors in long-term care facilities as “skyrocketing” and “somewhere between 10 to 20 times higher than the same cohort outside long-term care”. 

One of the biggest issues in providing care in nursing homes is the chronic understaffing in these facilities.  Many individuals employed in nursing homes are immigrants who only work part-time without access to paid sick leave.  In these circumstances, it is challenging for them to stay home when they are ill.

Furthermore, some of the nursing home staff are employed at multiple facilities and this can result in workers spreading COVID-19 between residences.

Another issue is that the physical buildings are often dated, which poses challenges for disinfection, physical distancing and isolating residents who become infected. 

Nursing homes may also struggle with properly outfitting their staff with personal protective equipment, including face masks. 

Alberta’s Tougher Rules Begin This Week

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Dena Hinshaw, recognizes that there have been several outbreaks in long-term care facilities and has put measures in place to prevent further outbreaks and manage the current ones.  

Dr. Hinshaw has ordered a province-wide ban on visitors to long-term care centres, licensed group homes and other facilities to limit the spread of COVID-19.  She stated:

I know this will have a profound impact on the lives of those residents and their families; this is not a step that we take lightly. I am asking all Albertans to reach out and support their loved ones through the phone, video and any other means possible. 

In an effort to limit exposure across care facilities, Dr. Hinshaw has also announced that workers at long-term care facilities will no longer be allowed to work at multiple locations.  There has been at least one case of cross-contamination from continuing-care sites in a staff member who worked at both Father Lacombe Care Centre and McKenzie Towne. 

It has also been ordered that all workers will be required to wear masks at all times when providing direct patient care or working within two metres of any individual in patient care areas.  This is to protect patients from workers who may not be aware that they have COVID-19.  According to Dr. Hinshaw, shipments of masks to long-term care facilities were made available earlier this week.

Continuing care facilities are also required to monitor residents for an expanded list of symptoms that now includes muscle aches and a hoarse voice. 

Earlier this week, federal Seniors Minister Deb Schulte also provided new guidelines for all long-term care facilities in the country, including:

  • Restricting visitors and volunteers to only those deemed essential;
  • All staff, volunteers and visitors are required to wear a mask while inside the facility;
  • All facilities should provide training on infection control measures such as proper hand hygiene and use of personal protective equipment;
  • Where possible, employees should only work at one facility;
  • All “non-essential” outings should be cancelled;
  • Residents and staff should follow the physical distancing protocols, including during meal times.

As the province of Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, we will continue to follow the developments and update any changes in this blog.

In the meantime, our business remains open and operational as the law firm of Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers is operating under the suggested social distancing guidelines recommended by the Canadian government and health professionals.

If you have any questions regarding your personal injury or medical malpractice case, please contact our office at 403-571-0555 or online.  The experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have a strong reputation in the community and in the legal profession.  We strive to provide our clients with excellent legal services, as we offer a free consultation.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have regarding hiring a lawyer for your personal injury or medical malpractice case. 


Limitation Periods and Procedural Timelines Suspended Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of new technologies and strategies in the legal realm throughout Canada.  Given the seriousness of the pandemic, public access to all courthouses in Alberta have become restricted as of March 30, 2020.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench has recently established a new enhanced email filing system in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and maintain social distancing.  This allows law firms to file materials remotely and avoid appearing in person at the courthouse.  The Court is also encouraging the public to use drop boxes available at the courthouse to limit attendance inside the building. 

The judicial system has also been called upon to implement measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and enable social distancing.  Most courts, including the Court of Queen’s Bench, are only hearing in-person urgent or essential matters during this time period.  Emergency matters include those “in which serious consequences to persons or harm to property may arise if the hearing does not proceed, or if there is risk of loss of jurisdiction or expiration of an existing protection or restraining order”.  All other matters scheduled to be heard before May 22, 2020 are adjourned. 

SUSPENSION OF LIMITATION PERIODS

Given the seriousness of the pandemic in this country, another preventative measure used in the judicial system is the suspension of limitation periods. 

By Ministerial Order M.O. 27/2020, the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer ordered that limitations periods and procedural rules that apply to almost 100 statutes in Alberta are suspended effective March 17 to June 1, 2020. 

This Order will remain in effect, unless continued, at the earliest of the following:

  1. June 1, 2020;
  2. 60 days after the Provincial Order in Council declaring a state of public health emergency is terminated by the Lieutenant Governor; or
  3. Termination of the Order by the Minister or Lieutenant Governor in Council.

This Order suspends limitation periods contained in a number of statutes, including the Limitations Act.  The Order is intended to eliminate the prejudice to parties that may result from failing to commence their lawsuit before the expiry of the limitation period under the Limitations Act

WHAT ARE LIMITATION PERIODS?

Limitation periods are timeframes that confine when legal proceedings may commence.  The primary purpose of limitation periods is to strike a balance between opposing interests of plaintiffs to pursue legitimate claims and defendants to be granted the peace of mind knowing that the risk of a lawsuit no longer exists and any right of action has run out. 

Once a limitation period has expired, the right of action is “statute barred”.  If an action is started outside of this period, it will likely be struck down by the court. 

Limitation periods are a complicated and technical area of the law.  Therefore, promptly receiving advice from an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is of the utmost importance.  Please contact the lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers as soon as possible regarding your situation so as not to jeopardize any opportunity to seek compensation.

LIMITATION PERIODS IN ALBERTA

Alberta’s Limitations Act provides guidance for limitation periods in Alberta. 

Section 3(1)(a) of the Limitations Act sets out the “discovery rule” and specifies that claimants must file their claims within 2 years from the date they had or ought to have had the following knowledge:

  1. Discovery of the injury;
  2. Discovery that the injury was in some way attributable to the conduct of the defendant;
  3. Discovery that the nature of the injury was such that it justified bringing a proceeding.

Thus, the two-year clock begins running not necessarily when the claim arises, but when the claimant discovers it. 

A longer limitation period is found at section 3(1)(b) and is often referred to as the “drop dead” clause.  Under this clause, a claim must be started no later than 10 years from the occurrence that is the basis of the claim.  This limitation period establishes an absolute limit on a claimant’s ability to begin legal proceedings.  The purpose of this clause is to diminish problems associated with lost evidence, fading memories and to try to keep claims up to date. 

There are a few exceptions to the rules regarding limitation periods.  These include cases that involve a “continuous course of conduct or series of related acts or omissions”, persons under disability, minors under the age of 18, and lawsuits in cases involving sexual assault and domestic violence allegations.       

RESPONSE TO COVID-19

As the province of Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving, we will continue to follow the developments and update any changes in this blog.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding your personal injury or medical malpractice case please contact our office at 403-571-0555 or online.  Our business remains open and we are operating at full capacity.  The law firm of Cuming & Gillespie is committed to the health and safety of our community and is operating under the suggested social distancing guidelines recommended by the Canadian government and health professionals.

Choosing a personal injury lawyer to represent you or a loved one in your time of need is not a decision to be taken lightly.  As a firm of lawyers who specialize in personal injury law and medical malpractice, the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers have a strong reputation in the community and in the legal profession.

At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers, we strive to provide our clients with excellent legal services, and we offer a free consultation.  Our personal injury lawyers are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding hiring a lawyer for your personal injury or medical malpractice case.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.


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