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Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie

Halloween Pedestrian Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids and is often one of their favourite nights of the year.  It’s a night when children can dress up, stay up late and binge on chocolate and candy.  However, there are unfortunately many hazards to be aware of and to look out for during Halloween night.

DANGERS FOR PEDESTRIANS

Halloween is the deadliest night for pedestrians, according to a study by researchers from the University of British Columbia.  Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States from 1975 to 2016 demonstrated that the most dangerous hours during Halloween night were between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

Pedestrian accidents are believed to increase on Halloween night for the following reasons:

  • There are more children on the road;
  • Excited children often forget about safety rules;
  • Dark costumes are difficult to see;
  • Masks restrict peripheral vision; and  
  • Halloween is a popular night for adult parties, which often involve alcohol.

According to the study, compared to any other fall night, on Halloween pedestrians have a 43% greater risk of being fatally struck by a car.  Not surprisingly, children are at the highest risk of being struck by a vehicle.  The study showed that children between the ages of 4 and 8 are 10 times more likely to be killed by a vehicle on Halloween than an any other night of the year. 

SAFETY TIPS FOR TRICK-OR-TREATING

The three most common factors associated with any pedestrian accident are visibility, distractions and vehicle speed.  Keeping this in mind, Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide the following safety tips for little spooks and their parents on Halloween night. 

  1. Be Visible:  Costumes should be light coloured or have reflective patches so little trick or treaters can be seen in the dark.  Reflective tape or reflective paint is recommended.
  2. Costume Safety:  Make sure that your child’s costume fits properly and that they can walk in their costume without tripping and falling.  Also, use face paint instead of a mask that can obstruct your child’s eyes or lines of vision.  It is also important to wear non-flammable fabrics as most jack-o-lanterns have real candles inside.  Costumes made from fabrics such as nylon, polyester and acrylic are safest.
  3. Follow the Rules of the Road:  Ensure that while venturing out on Halloween that your children stay on the sidewalks and do not run between parked cars and jaywalk across the street.  It is important to remind children to look both ways before crossing the street.  Be sure to cross the street in well-lit areas and at marked intersections or crosswalks (where possible).
  4. Light it Up:  It is also recommended to carry a flashlight, glow sticks or clip bike lights onto your child’s costume and stay in well-lit areas.  You can also apply reflective tape on strollers to help keep it noticeable in the dark.  Parents should also carry flashlights.
  5. Check the Candy:  It is important to inspect your child’s entire candy bag before letting them indulge.  Remind your children not to open any candy until they get home and their parents have had an opportunity to inspect it.  Throw out any packages that have been opened, are homemade or repackaged.
  6. Travel in Groups:  Younger children usually go out with their parents on Halloween.  When your child is old enough to venture out on their own, make sure they are in a group.  Remind your children about the risks of trick-or-treating and give them a curfew.  You should also plan a route ahead of time and everyone in the group should be made aware of the route. 
  7. Avoid Distractions:  If you are a parent taking your children out for Halloween, it is important to keep distractions to a minimum and keep a careful watch on your children.  It only takes a moment for your child to dart out into the street or into the path of a vehicle.  Put your cell phone away and keep your eyes on your children.
  8. Drivers Should Be Alert and Slow Down:  Driving on Halloween can be difficult given the number of increased pedestrians walking in residential areas.  Do not speed in residential areas and be on the lookout for children and other pedestrians crossing the road, as they may not be crossing at intersections.  Also, it is important  to keep distractions, such as the use of handheld devices, to a minimum.  

The personal injury lawyers at Cuming Gillespie Lawyers wish your family a fun and safe Halloween!  

Should anything go wrong during Halloween, know that the lawyers at Cuming Gillespie Lawyers are available.  If you or someone you love has suffered a serious personal injury, contact our experienced personal injury lawyers at our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.


Trial delays in personal injury disputes add insult to injury

Across Canada, trial wait times are plaguing the personal injury field, and plaintiff’s and insurance-defence lawyers are lamenting the many years it takes to close files.

Causes vary from province to province and, in some regions, cases linger longer than others. For injured people, bills pile up, critical support is inaccessible and some are forced to use litigation loans at exorbitant interest, say their lawyers. On the other side, insurance companies rack up huge legal bills as litigation can stretch on for the better part of the decade.

Read Full Article


Slip and Fall Season is Here: Are There Limitation Periods I Should Be Aware Of?

Last week, up to 10 centimetres of snow fell in the city of Calgary during the second snow event of the fall season.  Combining the snowfall with the subzero overnight temperatures resulted in slippery city sidewalks. 

This is just the beginning of slip and fall season and we all need to be careful to avoid injuries as we travel throughout the city.  As the snow falls and the temperatures drop, everyone, including business and property owners and the City of Calgary, have to take extra care to ensure that pedestrians can travel safely.

THE CITY OF CALGARY’S RESPONSE TO SNOWFALL

Chris McGeachy, speaking on behalf of the City of Calgary, advised that city crews worked all night applying salt to roadways to help melt snow and prevent ice from developing.

In Calgary, the city is responsible for clearing 249 of the 5,658 kilometres of public sidewalk.  Calgary Parks will also clear 400 km of its 850 km pathways within 24 hours from when the snow stops falling.

The City of Calgary’s snow and ice clearing budget is substantially lower than other Canadian cities.  There is currently a budge of $40.4 million, which covers the time period between January 1 to December 31, 2019.  There is also a snow reserve fund of $12.4 million.

If an individual slips and falls on snow and ice and suffers an injury on a publicly owned street or sidewalk in Calgary, the individual may have the right to seek monetary damages for their physical and emotional pain and suffering. In Alberta, unlike a personal injury claim against an individual or business, the injured party must be able to prove “gross negligence” on the part of the municipality.  This is a high, although not impossible, standard to prove.  Gross negligence can be defined as a conscious and voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care. 

CALGARY PROPERTY OWNERS OWE A DUTY OF CARE

As a homeowner, property owner or even a renter, you are responsible for keeping your property reasonably safe for others.  Property owners owe those lawfully on their property a duty of care to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition.  This includes cleaning your driveway, sidewalk and walkways from snow and ice.  If property owners are negligent in this duty, they can be held responsible for any injuries.

According to city bylaws, property owners are required to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall ending.  The failure to remove snow and ice can result in fines, which start at $250 for the first offence and up to $750 for repeat offenders.  Property owners will also be charged a snow removal fee of at least $150.

These snow removal fines were introduced last year.  The City has advised that residents and businesses will first receive a warning notice before any action is taken.

LIMITATION PERIODS TO BE AWARE OF IN THE CASE OF PERSONAL INJURIES FROM A SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT

Limitation periods for personal injury claims are very important.  If you miss a limitation period, you are unable to sue for your injuries and receive compensation.

In Alberta, the Limitations Act sets out the time limits for filing civil claims (i.e. personal injury lawsuits).  For the most part, personal injury cases, including those involving motor vehicle accidents, serious and fatal accidents and slip and falls, need to be started as follows:

  • Within two years of the incident in question; or
  • Ten years after the claim arose, whichever occurs first.

The timeline for filing a claim begins to run on the date that the person filing the claim knew or ought to have known that:

  • The injury occurred;
  • The injury was a result of someone else’s misconduct;
  • The injury warranted bringing a legal action.

There are exceptions to this rule regarding limitation periods.  The timer does not begin to run until the conduct stops or the last act or omission takes place in the case of claims that are based on a “continuous course of conduct or series of related acts or omissions”. 

In the case of claims involving minors, the operation of the Limitations Act is suspended until the minor reaches 18 years or age or until the minor can be represented by a litigation guardian or the Public Trustee.

There are special limitation periods that apply when an individual is making a claim against a municipality, such as the City of Calgary.  In Alberta, according to the Municipal Government Act of Alberta, you must inform the municipality of your injury within 21 days after the fall (with some limited exceptions) if you are claiming that the municipality is grossly negligent for ice or snow on a road or sidewalk. 

Contacting a personal injury lawyer promptly will assist you in commencing a claim and an experienced lawyer will advise you whether you have missed any limitation periods and whether or not an exception applies to your case.   

If you have been injured in a fall due to snow or ice, please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 403-571-0555.  It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries.  Call our office for a free consultation to determine how we can help you following a slip and fall injury.


Teenage Driver Safety

All parents will come to the point in their lives when their teenager has reached the driving age and is ready to set out on the open road.  A driver’s licence is the beginning of the road to independence for most teenagers.  However, due primarily to inexperience, the harsh reality is that motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19. 

STATISTICS REGARDING TEENAGE DRIVING

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation examined the involvement of young people in motor vehicle accidents and found that the rate of driver fatalities of those aged 16 to 19 years has consistently been greater than those that are 20 years of age or older. Also, speed was found to be a factor in more than a quarter of those car accidents that resulted in the death of a teen driver.

Impaired driving is a major problem affecting all drivers in Canada, especially young people.  Young people between the ages of 16 and 19 account for 23% of fatalities, 18% of injuries and 11% of those arrested for alcohol-related driving offences. More than one third of students in grades 9 to 12 report being a passenger in a vehicle of a driver who has been drinking. In fact, one in three teens do not consider driving while impaired by cannabis to be as bad as drunk driving.

FACTORS WHICH PUT TEENAGE DRIVERS AT RISK

The brain of a teenager is still developing.  The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls decision-making and risk taking, develops into early adulthood.  This might explain why young drivers are more willing to take risks and make impulsive choices while driving.  Teen drivers are also more likely to speed and drive with shorter distances between cars. 

The leading causes of teenage motor vehicle accidents include the following:

  • Driver inexperience;
  • Driving with teenage passengers;
  • Nighttime driving;
  • Not using seatbelts;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Drowsy driving;
  • Reckless driving; and
  • Impaired driving.

TIPS TO HELP KEEP YOUR TEENAGE DRIVER SAFE

Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers would like to provide the following tips to help parents keep their teenage driver safe and help avoid personal injury claims.

  1. Invest in a safe driving course for your young driver.  The more education and practice your child has behind the wheel, the better. 
  2. Emphasize the importance of avoiding distracted driving.  Ensuring that your teen is not texting, making phone calls, eating or engaging in any activity that will distract their driving is essential to safe driving.  Any behaviour that takes a driver’s attention away from the road is a distraction and potentially dangerous.  Setting a good example for your teen is also important.  If they see their parent distracted while driving, they will assume it is okay for them to participate in distracted activities as well. 
  3. Set a zero-tolerance drinking or cannabis policy with your child. Many young drivers do not understand or recognize the risks associated with driving while under the influence of cannabis.  Impaired driving (alcohol or drugs) can cause shorter attention spans, altered perception of time and distances and slower reaction times that impair a driver’s ability to drive safely. 
  4. Ensure that your teen driver has the proper sleep they need to drive safely.  Drowsy driving is very similar to drunk driving.  It can impair an individual’s reaction time, judgment and situational awareness. 
  5. Explain the risk of speeding to your teen.  Speed was found to be a factor in more than one quarter of teenager driver deaths. 
  6. Limit your teen from driving in stormy or hazardous weather.  Inexperienced drivers travelling on slick roads can have disastrous results.  Teen drivers need to understand the risks of driving in bad weather.  Inclement weather can reduce visibility, impair a driver’s capabilities and reduce a vehicle’s traction and maneuverability.  Hazardous road conditions increase crash risk.
  7. Make buckling a seatbelt a habit.  Seat belts can save lives and buckling a seatbelt is something that parents can start teaching their children right from the start.  Parents should also model proper seatbelt use and ensure that everyone in their vehicle is always buckled up.
  8. Be prepared for a motor vehicle accident.  As parents, we need to prepare our children for the possibility of an accident occurring while they are driving.  We need to teach our children what to expect and what is expected of them following an accident, such as interacting with the police or other driver and exchanging information regarding the vehicle and proof of auto insurance.  Parents should also discuss with their teens the importance of telling the truth after an accident. 

Keeping your teen safe while driving starts with practicing safe driving yourself, however, accidents are not always avoidable.  If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to an inexperienced or impaired teen driver, you could be eligible for compensation. 

To learn more about personal injury lawsuits or to file a claim, please contact the experienced lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers online or at 403-571-0555.  Our personal injury lawyers will guide you through the litigation process and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.  Contact our office today to make an appointment for a free legal consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.


Jaywalker Who Witnessed Accident Awarded $98,000 for Nervous Shock

On March 20, 2013, Ariston Quirmit Marcena (“Marcena”) and his wife jaywalked across a street to their car after attending a medical appointment.  Mrs. Marcena was hit by a motorcycle and suffered serious injuries.  Marcena witnessed the accident and was diagnosed as suffering from nervous shock.  A B.C. Supreme Court judge awarded Marcena $98,794.86 in damages for the psychological injuries that he suffered as a result of observing his wife’s accident.

WHAT HAPPENED?

On the morning of March 20, 2013, Mr. and Mrs. Marcena were jaywalking across Yates Street in Victoria when Barry Robert Thomson (“Thomson”) hit Mrs. Marcena with his motorcycle. 

Mrs. Marcena filed a separate lawsuit regarding the damages she suffered as a result of the accident and her case has settled. 

DECISION REGARDING LIABILITY

Marcena sued Thomson for damages for nervous shock, which he alleges to suffer as a result of witnessing his wife being hit by Thomson’s motorcycle. Thomson adamantly denied liability at the trial.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Power ruled that Marcena was partially liable for the injuries he suffered.  Marcena initiated the jaywalking and his behaviour was found to be negligent and in breach of British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act

Justice Power also found the motorcyclist, Barry Robert Thomson, responsible for the accident as there was a hazard to be seen, nothing was obstructing his view and Ms. Marcena was wearing a bright yellow sweater.  Furthermore, the judge found that there was no evidence of any precautions taken by Thomson. 

Had he slowed in response to the halted vehicles in lane one, or upon seeing the Marcenas – who were there to be seen – enter the road, he could have avoided the accident. … I conclude that Mr. Thomson did not exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian on the highway, in violation of s. 181(a) of the Act and his common law responsibilities.  As such, he bears liability.

Justice Power concluded that because Thomson failed to keep a look out, failed to see what there was to be seen, and failed to take appropriate evasive action, he should therefore bear 25% liability for the collision.

DECISION REGARDING CAUSATION

At trial, Marcena alleged that he suffered psychological injuries as a result of seeing his wife struck and injured by the motorcycle accident.  The onus is on Marcena to show there is a “nexus” between the injuries that he sustained and Thomson’s negligent act or omission.  The question that the court was asked was “but for the defendant’s negligence, would the plaintiff have suffered the injuries?”

Justice Power agreed with Marcena’s allegations and concluded that the medical evidence established that Marcena suffered a psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing Thomson’s negligent conduct in running over Mrs. Marcena with his motorcycle.  Justice Power stated:

A reasonable person would have foreseen that striking a pedestrian with a motorcycle could cause traumatic psychological injury to a close family member who witnessed the accident.  …I find that Mr. Thomson’s negligence is a proximate cause for Mr. Marcena’s injuries, and the mental harm he suffered was a reasonably foreseeable outcome for a person of ordinary fortitude.

DECISION REGARDING DAMAGES

Justice Power concluded that Marcena suffered a psychiatric injury and was diagnosed with major depression as a result of witnessing his wife being struck by a motorcycle.  Since the accident, Marcena was also found to suffer from poor concentration, inadequate sleep, decreased energy levels, lack of motivation, headaches and forgetfulness.  The evidence before the court also established that Marcena had been unable to work since 2014 and has had ongoing trouble maintaining his relationships with his wife and son as a result of the accident.

In determining an assessment of non-pecuniary damages (damages which are not readily quantified or valued in money), the court considered the following factors:

  1. Age of the plaintiff;
  2. Nature of the injury;
  3. Severity and duration of pain;
  4. Disability;
  5. Emotional suffering;
  6. Loss or impairment of life;
  7. Impairment of family, marital and social relationships;
  8. Impairment of physical and mental abilities;
  9. Loss of lifestyle; and
  10. The plaintiff’s stoicism.

At the conclusion of the trial, Justice Power awarded Marcena the following:

  1. Non-pecuniary damages      $125,000
  2. Gross past wage loss             $140,000
  3. Loss of future income           $120,000
  4. Cost of future care                $10,000
  5. Special damages                    $179.45

Marcena was awarded $395,179.45 in total damages.  This damage award was reduced to 25% in light of the judge’s findings on liability. 

At Cuming Gillespie Lawyers, we are committed to helping you and your loved ones.  If you or a loved one have been injured in 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.


Rotator Cuff Injuries

Both motor vehicle accidents and slip and fall incidents can leave a victim with severe injuries that are difficult to recover from fully.  All parts of the body are vulnerable in a car accident due to the speed and impact of the crash.  However, the shoulder, the rotator cuff in particular, is generally at risk.  Shoulder injuries can also occur from slip and fall accidents, ranging from mild inflammation to severe tearing.

WHAT IS A ROTATOR CUFF TEAR?

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and provide the ability to lift and rotate the arms. 

There are two types of rotator cuff tears.  A partial tear occurs when one of the muscles that form the rotator cuff is frayed or damaged.  A complete tear occurs when the tear goes through the tendon or pulls the tendon off of the bone.

There are various symptoms associated with a rotator cuff tear, which can include:

  • Trouble raising the arm;
  • Pain when moving the arm in certain ways or lying on it;
  • Disruption in sleep, particularly if you sleep on the affected shoulder;
  • Weakness in the shoulder and arm;
  • Being unable to lift things; or
  • Hearing clicking or popping with arm movements.

Rotator cuff injuries typically occur in individuals who repeatedly perform overhead motions associated with their jobs or sports, i.e. painters, carpenters, or those who play baseball or tennis. 

There are also times that a rotator cuff tear occurs as a result of a single injury, i.e. a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall accident.

The risk of an injury of this nature also increases with age.  As we grow older, our tendons have a tendency to wear down, allowing them to be vulnerable to tears or other damage that may occur. 

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF ROTATOR CUFF INJURIES

During a medical examination, your doctor will examine your shoulder and check to see the areas where it is tender and whether there is any deformity.  Your doctor will measure the range of motion of your shoulder by asking you to move your arm in different directions.  Your arm strength will also be tested during this initial examination.

Imaging tests such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and/or ultrasounds will provide more information to your doctor and will confirm whether you have a rotator cuff tear. 

There are a number of different treatment options available depending on your age, activity level, general health and the type of rotator cuff injury that has occurred, including:

  • Rest;
  • A Sling;
  • Limiting overhead activities;
  • Activity modification;
  • Strengthening exercises and physical therapy;
  • Heat or cold applied to the sore area;
  • Medication to reduce pain and swelling;
  • Electrical stimulation of muscles and nerves;
  • Ultrasound;
  • Cortisone injections; or
  • Surgery.

RESEARCHERS FIND SUCCESS IN NON-SURGICAL APPROACHS TO ROTATOR CUFF TEARS

Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that patients suffering from a full-thickness tear (torn right through from top to bottom) within their shoulder could be treated without surgery.  Seventy five percent of the one hundred patients who had torn their rotator cuff reported favourable results lasting for up to five years from a non-surgical approach.

Dr. Richard Boorman, an orthopaedic surgeon and the lead researcher, reported:

Their shoulders felt better, move better, functioned better. They did not only not want surgery, they didn’t need surgery. …

The patients in the study worked with a physiotherapist and were taught a set of specialized exercises to perform at home.  They were also required to return for follow-up appointments at regular intervals. Dr. Boorman explained:

Together – the patient and surgeon – decided if the treatment program was “successful” and that surgery was not an appropriate intervention, or if it “failed”, meaning surgery was the best option because significant symptoms still persisted.

Rotator cuff injuries can be very serious, affecting an individual’s ability to work, perform daily tasks, take part in recreational activities or generate an income.  Shoulder injuries of this nature should not be ignored.  Without proper treatment, rotator cuff injuries can lead to permanent stiffness or weakness or even progressive degeneration of the shoulder joint.

Compensation for rotator cuff injuries may include money for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, out-of-pocket expenses (including medical expenses, transportation costs etc.), cost of future medical care, past and future wage loss and loss of earning capacity.

If you or a loved one have suffered a rotator cuff injury due to a slip and fall accident or motor vehicle accident that occurred due to the fault of another individual, you may be able to file a legal claim against the responsible party. 

It is in your best interest to promptly hire a skilled and experienced law firm to guide you through the litigation process and answer any questions that you may have.  Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid personal injury claim.  Contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation today.  We look forward to helping you obtain the compensation that you deserve.


The Dangers of Ethanol-Fueled Appliances 

The Ontario fire marshal has issued a warning of the significant risk associated with tabletop fireplaces that use ethanol as fuel following a number of fatalities and injuries in Ontario over the past three years.

One of the incidents involved a woman named Hana Engel (“Engel”) who suffered second and third degree burns at a dinner party hosted by Cody Ceci (“Ceci”), a player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his common-law partner, Jamie Thompson (“Thompson”).   Engel is suing Ceci, Thompson and others for more than $8 million in damages for the injuries she has suffered when she was “immediately engulfed in flames”.

WHAT HAPPENED?

On May 9, 2018, Engel alleges that she became engulfed in flames when Thompson unintentionally ignited her with liquid ethanol burner fuel, causing Engel to suffer burns to 35% of her body.

At approximately 9 p.m., Thompson was refilling one of the burners of the outdoor fireplace.  It is alleged that she squirted ethanol onto the burner without checking to ensure that it had completely extinguished, which caused flames and ethanol to jet out of the bottle.  Thompson proceeded to throw the burning bottle in Engel’s direction, causing her clothing to catch fire and she became immediately engulfed in flames. 

The phenomenon referred to as flame jetting, which occurs when fuel vapors are ignited when refueling an appliance that is not fully put out and a flame is not visible, is the cause of several incidents of burn injuries.  According to Douglas Browne, Ontario’s Deputy Fire Marshal:

It essentially means the ethanol fuel creates an over pressurization in the canister and when a flame contacts it, it will shoot out flames similar to a blowtorch or flame thrower.

As a result of the accident, Engel was in a coma for three weeks and required three surgeries.  Engel alleges that her appearance has been permanently altered and she continues to undergo rehabilitation and treatment for her injuries.

Engel is seeking damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of housekeeping and homemaking capacity, loss of income, loss of competitive advantage in the marketplace and loss of economic opportunities.

The lawsuit also names Engel’s common-law partner, Jacob Cardwell (“Cardwell”), her parents and her siblings as plaintiffs (i.e. person(s) who brings a case against another in a court of law) in the lawsuit.  Cardwell is seeking $900,000 in damages for loss of care, guidance and companionship, loss of income, and for costs associated with providing nursing, attendant care and other services to Engel.  He is also seeking damages for nervous shock, intentional infliction of mental suffering and emotional distress. 

Engel’s parents are seeking $700,000 and her siblings are seeking $200,000 in damages for loss of care, guidance and companionship and for costs associated with nursing, attendant care and other services provided to Engel. 

The lawsuit names also Clair de Lune Products Inc. (the manufacturer of the tabletop ethanol fireplace) and Les Distributions Orca Lite Inc. (the distributor of the ethanol biofuel) as defendants (i.e. individual or company sued in a court of law).

It has been reported that Clair de Lune stopped selling the tabletop ethanol fireplace following this accident.

WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST CECI AND HIS PARTNER IN THE LAWSUIT?

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that the incident was caused by the “individual or combined negligence” of the defendants. 

It is alleged that Thompson didn’t know how to properly operate the fireplace, disregarded warning labels, failed to take safety precautions failed to warn guests of the danger, failed to read instructions, and allegedly squirted liquid ethanol onto an open flame.

The lawsuit also alleges that Ceci was negligent for not knowing how to properly operate the fireplace, failing to read instructions, failing to understand the safety precautions, ignoring warning labels and failing to prevent Thompson from refilling the fireplace with ethanol while the flame was low.

CECI AND THOMPSON’S RESPONSE TO THE ALLEGATIONS

Ceci and Thompson have denied all allegations of negligence contained in the lawsuit against them. 

The statement of defence that Ceci and Thompson have filed in response to the lawsuit alleges that their co-defendants, the companies that manufactured and distributed the products involved in the incident, were responsible for the damages or losses suffered by the plaintiffs.

Ceci and Thompson allege that the manufacturers made the tabletop fireplace with faulty components, failed to properly test and inspect the product, sold poor quality materials, sold the fireplace without proper instructions, failed to warn consumers that the fireplace could fail at any time, and failed to warn retailers of the “inherent defects and dangers associated with the use of ethanol-filled tabletop fireplaces”.

The couple also allege that Engel’s damages and losses were contributed to by her own negligence.  They set out in their defence that Engel was inattentive, endangered her own safety, may have been impaired and was affected by “illness, injury or disease” that pre-dates the incident in question.

None of the allegations made by the plaintiffs or the defendants have been tested in court.

HOW TO PREVENT FLAME JETTING FROM OCCURING?

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management of Ontario recommends the following tips to prevent flame jetting when utilizing ethanol fuel appliances:

  • Ensure that all flames in an ethanol fueled appliance are fully extinguished and that it is cold to the touch before refueling;
  • Ensure that no one is near the appliance when refueling;
  • Use a fuel container that has a flame arrester (plastic or wire mesh that absorbs heat from a container and prevents fire from travelling inside) when refueling.

If you or a loved one have experienced a serious personal injury or loss as the result of someone else’s fault or negligence, you may have grounds to pursue legal action against them in the form of a personal injury claim. Please contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at  Cuming & Gillespie Lawyers for a free case evaluation online or by calling 403-571-0555.  We are dedicated to providing you with the legal help you deserve.


New Device Developed to Prevent Concussions

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

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

WHAT IS THE Q-COLLAR?

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

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

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

HOW DOES THE Q-COLLAR WORK?

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

Dr. Fisher stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION & WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

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

The following are typical symptoms associated with concussions:

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

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

HOW IS A CONCUSSION TREATED?

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

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

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

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

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


Share the Road: Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers

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

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

IF YOU ARE DROPPING YOUR CHILDREN OFF AT SCHOOL

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

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

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

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

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

SHARING THE ROAD WITH BICYCLES

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

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

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

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

SHARING THE ROAD WITH SCHOOL BUSES

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

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

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

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

OTTAWA LAUNCHES STOP ARM CAMERAS ON SCHOOL BUSES

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

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

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

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

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

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


Two Deadly Crashes Occur on the Highway 9 Construction Zone

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

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

AUGUST 7, 2019 ACCIDENT

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

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

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

AUGUST 20, 2019 ACCIDENT

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

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

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

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

THE CONSTRUCTION ZONE

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

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

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

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

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

INVESTIGATIONS ONGOING

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

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

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

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

TIPS FOR DRIVING SAFELY IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES

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

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

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


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