(403) 571-0555
About Us
Our Team
Medical Malpractice
Personal Injury
News
FAQs
Contact
Cuming & Gillespie's COVID-19 Statement - Read Post

Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie

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.


Paralyzed Hockey Player Sues Both Drivers Responsible for Accident

Ryan Straschnitzki (“Straschnitzki”) has commenced a $13.5 million lawsuit against both the truck driver and the driver of the bus that he was riding in, along with the Governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan and others in regards to the 2018 bus crash.  The lawsuit was filed in both Calgary and Saskatoon.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The horrific accident occurred on April 6, 2018 at about 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 in Saskatchewan.  A bus made up of junior hockey team players, coaches, the team radio announcer, amongst others were headed to a playoff game.  As a result of the accident, sixteen were killed and another thirteen were injured.

Strashcnitzki suffered paralysis from the chest down as a result of the crash.  We have previously blogged about his recovery progress and reported that he travelled to Thailand for treatment.  In early November 2019, doctors in Thailand implanted an epidural stimulator in his spine and then a week later injected stem cells above and below his injury to help reverse some of the damage.

THE LAWSUIT

The accident occurred when Jaskirat Singh Sidhu (“Sidhu”) drove through a stop sign and collided with a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.  Sidhu was travelling between 86 and 96 km/h.  He passed four signs warning him about the upcoming intersection that had an oversized stop sign with a flashing light.

A forensic collision report found that Sidhu did not brake at the intersection of Highways 335 and 35 before colliding with the bus.  The report also indicated that Sidhu’s view of the intersection was not impeded by any environmental factors, such as trees or sunlight. 

Sidhu pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to eight years in prison.  During his sentencing hearing, his lawyer maintained that he was an inexperienced truck driver and was distracted by a tarp flapping on the trailer of the truck he was driving.

The hockey team’s bus driver, Glen Doerksen (“Doerksen”), who was killed in the crash, has also been named as defendant in Straschnitzki’s lawsuit.   According to the claim, Doerksen “owed a duty of care to the plaintiff to operate the said bus exercising all reasonable care and skill”. 

It is alleged that Doerksen was speeding at the time of the accident.  The plaintiff claims that there were skid marks from the bus at the crash site and the RCMP estimated that at the time of the accident Doerksen was travelling between 97 and 110 km/h.  The lawsuit also alleges that Doerksen was aware that he was approaching a “sight-restricted intersection” where numerous fatal collisions have occurred in the past. 

The lawsuit alleges that the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan failed to make the roadways safe and provide adequate and safe trucking regulations.  The plaintiff claims that Saskatchewan did not maintain the trees at the intersection properly to maintain clear site lines, failed to install rumble strips and failed to provide warning signs. 

The lawsuit claims that the province of Alberta failed to regulate, adequately train and enforce the rules for trucking companies.  It is further alleged that the governments failed by leaving the responsibility for transportation safety with the federal government.

The lawsuit also names additional defendants including the owners of the trailer Sidhu was pulling, Adesh Deol Trucking Ltd. (the owner of the trucking company), Charlie’s Charters Ltd. (the Saskatchewan company that owned the bus) and the manufacturer of the bus.

DAMAGES

According to the Statement of Claim, as a result of the accident, Straschnitzki was left paralyzed and continues to suffer from headaches, cognitive difficulties, short term memory loss, severe driving anxiety, anger, depression, nightmares and insomnia.  Straschnitzki seeks compensation for his catastrophic injuries, in addition to his lost wages.  

The lawsuit alleges that the actions or omissions “of all defendants were reprehensible, reckless, malicious, high-handed and demonstrated such a lack of disregard for the health, safety and rights of the Humboldt Broncos that the plaintiff claims punitive damages”.

Punitive damages are used in civil actions only in exceptional circumstances for particularly egregious conduct.  This specific type of damages are intended to punish a particularly disgraceful action and prevent similar future behaviour by the wrongdoer and society at large.

The statement of claim by Straschnitzki is made up of details that have not yet been proven in court.  The defendants have not as of yet filed responses, also known as statements of defence, to Straschnitzki’s claims.

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers will continue to provide updates through this blog as we receive further information on any new developments.

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.  Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We can get started with a free case evaluation and are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve.


Maia Tomljanovic Interviewed on Inside Medical Malpractice Podcast

Associate lawyer, Maia Tomljanovic, was recently interviewed by host Chris Rokosh on two episodes of the Inside Medical Malpractice podcast. In the first episode, Maia talks about what inspires her, and how she hopes to bring positive change to healthcare in Calgary and beyond through her work in medical malpractice law.

Listen here on Apple Podcasts.

In the second episode, Maia is interviewed about what it’s like for a medical malpractice lawyer, used to finding fault in the healthcare system, to have to put trust in that same system for their own care. Maia recently had a healthy baby boy, but her pregnancy and delivery were not without complications. In this personal and revealing conversation, Maia discusses self-advocacy in a medical setting and experiencing the challenges patients can encounter firsthand.

Listen here on Apple Podcasts.


Concerns that No-Fault Auto Insurance May Be Introduced in Alberta

The Alberta government is currently reviewing the province’s auto insurance industry.  Although no details have been released regarding the particulars of a new insurance system, there has been speculation that Alberta will be moving towards a no-fault regime. 

WHAT IS NO-FAULT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE?

A no-fault automobile insurance system would likely operate in a similar manner as Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board.  An individual will receive compensation whether they caused the accident or were the innocent victim as the result of someone else’s negligence. 

A no-fault system effectively will take away an individual’s right to sue.  Also, the system itself will decide what a party owes and what a party receives. 

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH NO-FAULT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE?

Personal injury lawyers throughout Alberta are concerned about what a no-fault system will mean for their clients, particularly ones that are seriously injured.  The following are some of the problems associated with a no-fault system automobile insurance regime:

  1. With a no-fault insurance system, each driver’s own insurance company will decide whether their health issues were caused by the accident and will determine the amount of benefits that you are entitled to receive.  Therefore, the for-profit company not only determines whether you are entitled to receive benefits, but will also decide the amount of those benefits. 
  2. With a no-fault insurance system, individuals that suffer injuries will not be entitled to receive a lump-sum payout and the opportunity to decide how to care for their injuries and move forward with their lives.  Under this regime, decisions regarding healthcare will be made by the insurance company and it will be at the company’s discretion to determine whether an individual meets the eligibility criteria.
  3. With a no-fault insurance system, there is no legal recourse if an insurance company decides to terminate benefits unless the individual is able to afford the legal fees associated with attempting to overturn the decision. 
  4. With a no-fault insurance system, an individual who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, which can affect one’s ability to work for many years after an accident, may lose their ability to challenge in court the amount of compensation they receive should they be unable to work for many years into the future.
  5. With a no-fault insurance system, there is no prevention or accountability for bad driving.  All drivers are entitled to the same benefits, whether they caused the accident or were innocent victims of an accident. 
  6. With a no-fault system, compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life are essentially abolished. 
  7. With a no-fault system, it is expected that insurance premiums will go up by three to four per cent every year as claims costs go down for insurance companies at the same rate.  In the long term, premiums are expected to increase at a more moderate rate. 

FAIR ALBERTA INJURY REGULATIONS

Although Alberta’s insurance industry claims that the automobile insurance market is in turmoil, Fair Alberta Injury Regulations (“FAIR”), an Alberta group advocating for fair auto insurance, has recently reported that these claims are erroneous.  Please see our recent blog regarding the discrepancies found with respect to the insurers’ claims to be paying out more than their premiums.

FAIR is a coalition of Albertans made up of consumers, medical professionals, injured Albertans and members of the legal community that are committed to protecting the rights of Albertans injured in motor vehicle accidents.

The legal team at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers strongly support the efforts of FAIR and are dedicated to holding auto insurance companies accountable and to demanding that their clients and all injured Albertans receive the compensation that they deserve and appropriate treatment options.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

For more information regarding FAIR and its efforts, please visit their website at fairalbertainjuryregulations.ca

You can also make your voice and opinions heard regarding changes to Alberta’s automobile insurance industry by sending a letter to your Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and/or the Minister of Finance.  A letter template can be found on FAIR’s website. 

FAIR is also collecting personal stories regarding motor vehicle accidents and is eager to hear your opinion regarding the government introducing no-fault auto insurance in Alberta.  You can read personal stories from fellow injured Albertans on FAIR’s website. 

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 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 contact our office at 403-571-0555 or online.


Family of Man Killed in Uber Accident Files $7 Million Lawsuit in Ontario

A $7 million lawsuit has been filed in Ontario against Uber Canada and the City of Toronto, amongst other defendants, for the fatality of Nicholas Cameron (“Cameron”), who was a passenger in a ridesharing vehicle in 2018.

Uber driver, Abdihared Bishar-Mussa (“Bishar-Mussa”), is also a named defendant.  He was also criminally charged for the accident and pleaded guilty to careless driving.  Bishar-Mussa was fined $1,000, given a one-year driving ban, required to complete 50 hours of community service and placed on probation for 2 years.

WHAT HAPPENED?

On March 21, 2018 at approximately 3:30 am, Cameron and his girlfriend, Monika Traikov (“Traikov”), were travelling to Toronto Pearson International Airport in an Uber.  Their vehicle was rear-ended in the westbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway. 

According to an agreed statement of facts from the criminal proceedings against Bishar-Mussa, his phone and GPS fell from the mount onto the floor.  He pulled his vehicle partly onto the shoulder to put the phone back on the mount.  As he proceeded back onto the highway, his vehicle was struck by a BMW traveling at 107 km/h causing the Uber vehicle to travel across four lanes of the highway, where it came to rest against the centre median several hundred feet away.

Cameron was seated directly behind the driver’s seat and suffered a catastrophic neck injury.  Sadly, he never regained consciousness and passed away in hospital the next day.

Traikov suffered a concussion and other minor injuries as a result of the accident. 

THE ALLEGATIONS

Both Traikov and Cameron’s mother, Cheryl Hawkes (“Hawkes”), have commenced a lawsuit against Uber Canada, the City of Toronto, an Uber subsidiary called Raiser Operations, Stars Auto Sales, Bishar-Mussa, and the driver of the BMW, Joseph Estacion.

Traikov and Hawkes are each claiming $3.5 million in damages, plus expenses.  They allege that the “defendants engaged in conduct which was harsh, vindictive, reprehensible, and malicious, including but not limited to:  a wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of the residents of the city of Toronto; a wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of Uber passengers; a marked departure from ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”

The City of Toronto is included as a defendant in the lawsuit as city council passed a bylaw in 2016 that withdrew a 17-day taxi driver training program in order to broaden vehicle-for-hire services and create increased competition.  It is alleged that this decision by the City led to Cameron’s death.

The lawsuit also includes allegations that Uber’s lobbying resulted in the removal of training requirements for vehicle-for-hire drivers and that Uber assisted in drafting the bylaw resulting in a “wanton and outrageous disregard for the safety of the residents of the City of Toronto”.  It is further alleged that the City financially profited from these lenient rules by collecting a fee for every Uber ride in Toronto.

Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the absence of mandatory Uber driver training contributed to Cameron’s death.  At the time of the accident, the City of Toronto did not have any rules of this nature.  Last summer, Toronto passed a vehicle-for-hire bylaw requiring all driver’s to complete mandatory driver training.  This bylaw took effect earlier this year, however, it is not clear as to what type of training is required. 

The lawsuit claims that Uber failed to test Bishar-Mussa’s driving ability and failed to train him to prevent the crash.  It is alleged that Uber “created a business model which required drivers to use their cell phone while driving, contrary to the Highway Traffic Act”.

At the time of the accident, Bishar-Mussa was a 23-year-old who had recently moved to Toronto from Ottawa.  In fact, it was only his second day operating as an Uber driver.  When he first began driving the couple he was travelling in the wrong direction until Cameron and Traikov advised him of his mistake.  He then suggested that they take city streets instead of the highway, at which point the couple insisted that he take the highway.  The lawsuit alleges that Bishar-Mussa was distracted by his phone and unfamiliar with the route to the airport. 

Traikov alleges that she “suffered permanent serious personal injuries” as a result of the collision, including a traumatic brain injury and severe physical pain.  She also makes a claim for damages for rehabilitation and medical procedures, loss of income, loss of future income and claims that she has suffered a loss related to an inability to participate in recreational activities she once enjoyed. 

The lawsuit also claims that the plaintiffs have suffered severe mental distress and the plaintiffs make claims for aggravated damagesHawkes seeks damages for the loss of comfort and care she would have received from her son, lost income, expenses related to Cameron’s care and his funeral, and the impact Cameron’s death has had on her overall enjoyment of life.

Hawkes has stated:

I’ve lost my son, that’s not going to change.  We’ve been shattered for a couple of years now.  It’s been emotionally draining…it shakes you up in ways you don’t even know about.

Neither the City of Toronto nor Uber have commented on the recently served lawsuit.

None of the claims or allegations have been proven in court.  We will continue to follow this case and will report any new developments in this blog.

At Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers we are committed to helping you and your loved ones.  If you or a loved one are suffering from injuries as the result of a motor vehicle accident and believe a third party is responsible, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.  Please contact the award winning lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers either online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We can get started with a free case evaluation and are dedicated to providing you with the legal help that you deserve.


Personal Injury

Read more

Medical Malpractice

Read more

Our Team

Latest News

T-Bone Motor Vehicle Accidents

Birth Trauma and Medical Malpractice

The Lawyer-Client Relationship in Personal Injury Cases

Speeding Continues to be a Concern Despite Less Traffic Tickets Issued in Calgary in 2020

The Most Common Slip and Fall Injuries

What our clients have to say