Drivers’ Responsibilities: Right Of Way vs Exercising Proper Care and Safety

A decision by a trial court judge, which was upheld on appeal brought into sharp focus the fact that right of way rules do not in any way provide protection against liability for an accident.

The City of Ottawa was ordered to pay $2 million in damages in a 2008 crash that caused the death of three people. An OC Transpo bus on a green light had T-boned the SUV in which five youngsters were traveling. Though the SUV driver had been drinking heavily, driving erratically and running a red light, the judgment still held the bus driver responsible partially for not applying proper safety measures.

The Gardiner v MacDonald Case

Ben Gardiner and four of his friends had visited the Carleton University graduate students’ bar, another pub, and a karaoke bar prior to the accident. Mark MacDonald, the driver of the SUV in which they had been traveling was reported by eyewitnesses to have been driving erratically and running several red lights before the fatal collision which occurred at an intersection at 2 am.

The bus driver who had more than two decades’ experience was found to have been moderately over the speed limit, though he had right of way on green at that intersection. He was also found to have briefly checked his rear-view mirrors at the intersection (as the drivers’ manual in fact enjoins him to do) thus taking his attention away momentarily from the road.

Two of the passengers and the driver, MacDonald, were killed while two passengers survived. Gardiner and his family sued the city, the  pubs and MacDonald’s estate for compensation due to negligent driving. Another deceased victim’s family also sued.

Since toxicology reports confirmed that MacDonald had been drinking, his insurers declined coverage and had to pay only the minimum $200,000 which was split between the plaintiffs. Hence, though the municipality was apportioned only 20% of the fault in the accident, it was the City which had to pay the bulk of damages, as all other parties were unable to pay. This is due to the principle of joint and several liability contained in insurance regulations.

The bus driver and the city appealed, but their application was turned down and the trial judge’s decision was upheld.

Right of Way vs Safe and Alert Driving

In this particular case, the judgment was based on important factors that include:

  • Drivers with right of way must still exercise proper care and proceed only when it’s safe to do so
  • Professional drivers are to be held to a higher standard of care than the general public. The bus driver in question was a highly experienced driver.
  • The bus driver was driving above speed limit in poor weather and road conditions.
  • The speed rendered the bus driver unable to react quickly enough at the intersection.
  • Drivers with right of way may also be found partially responsible for accidents.

If you or a dear one has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to advise and assist you with claiming the compensation you deserve. Our knowledgeable and skilled car accident lawyers can help safeguard your rights and protect your interests.

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Road Safety For Cyclists: Lessons To Be Learned From Ottawa Accidents

The recent tragedy involving a young cyclist who was killed in a collision on a Laurier Ave. bike lane in Ottawa sent shock waves throughout the community. The 23-year old cyclist, daughter of a Bangladeshi diplomat, was apparently “right hooked” by a truck and died immediately. This location is fast gaining the reputation of being an accident hot-spot for cyclists, since at least three serious accidents have occurred here over a span of just five days.

Ottawa is one of Canada’s leaders in promoting cycling as transportation for its citizens. People like Share The Road executive director Jamie Stuckless have chosen to live here for precisely this reason. Raised cycle tracks, planned connections and off-road paths for cyclists are among the features that make the city an excellent option for cycling enthusiasts. In fact, an increased cycling population does ensure that more long-term safety features are installed and better motorist awareness is created in the local community.

What’s the Right Hook?

The “right hook” is something that all cyclists dread and fear. It happens when a motorist right in front of the cyclist makes a right turn, cutting off the cyclist. This usually happens because the motorist misreads the cyclist’s intentions and speed. It can prove very dangerous for the unwary cyclist because motorists hardly ever check the narrow space on their right while making the turn. Cyclists need to be more alert, proactive and assertive but this may not be enough if the motor-vehicle is traveling at high speed.

Most intersections are hazard points and cyclists need to maintain visibility and remain in charge. Cycling skills, knowledge of the rules and an alert frame of mind can go a long way in ensuring your own safety.

If you or a dear one has been injured in a cycling accident caused by a careless or negligent motorist, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer with expertise in dealing with cycling accidents. You may be entitled to compensation. 

Cyclists’ Rights and Rules 

The Ottawa accident has refueled the debate on biker safety. Soon after the accident, a crowd of concerned citizens gathered outside the Ottawa City Hall to call for more safety measures regarding cyclists in the city.

Cyclists have the same rights as pedestrians. Since they are on slower moving vehicles, cyclists need to stay on the right of the road to let faster-moving vehicles pass. They also need to maintain optimum distance from parked vehicles on the right.

They have a legal right to occupy the center of the lane if that’s the safer option.

They must use safety equipment and wear protective gear.

They must stop for red lights, obey all other traffic signs and ride in designated direction on one-ways.

They may not carry passengers.

If you’re wheeling your bicycle on a highway for some reason, you’re considered to be a pedestrian and must follow the required rules.

They must be specially alert while traveling in groups, passing larger vehicles like trucks and also crossing rail or streetcar tracks.

Following the necessary rules and regulations, and being aware of your rights can help you have a safer cycling experience.

Inclusive classrooms: Benefits for children with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities

Autism or the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by social skills deficits, certain repetitive behaviors, difficulties with speech and communication, behavioral issues, and sometimes, certain highly developed faculties and unique strengths. It is not a well-defined condition and the causes are still largely indefinite. They may include genetic and environmental factors.

Autism Speaks  one of the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organizations, provides useful information about the condition. Identifiable signs and symptoms begin to appear by age 2-3 and sometimes even earlier. There may be developmental delays and multiple disabilities in the child and these may also be diagnosed around the same time. Today, nearly 1/68 children are diagnosed with ASD around the world.

Other developmental disabilities like Down’s Syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, etc can also impact the person’s ability to integrate into the social, economic and educational structure.

Inclusiveness and Educational Institutions

Historically, inclusion as a fundamental right was first advocated in the 1950s. Until then, children with disabilities were considered less competent to learn. However, with more awareness and information becoming available, the importance of early learning and interventions in childhood settings, “where immense growth, acquiring knowledge, skills and abilities in several interconnected realms – social, emotional, physical, self-help or adaptive” (First Steps To Preschool Inclusion: Gupta and Henninger) gained relevance.

The authors of the above quoted research study also noted that, “Research shows that high-quality inclusion can help young children make gains that are visible not only during preschool but also realized much later in life.” 

Autism

How Do Children With Disabilities Benefit From Inclusion?

Early intervention may not be the magic bullet that can transform the lives of children with disabilities, but there are several significant long-term gains to be made. These benefits have a lasting impact on the person’s life and can smooth the path to better integration and achievement of human growth potential.

Inclusion from a human rights viewpoint also sensitizes society around the individual and promotes feelings of equality, dignity and respect.

These are the main areas where inclusion has an impact:

  • Helps child to develop positive socio-emotional skills
  • Promotes relationship building skills
  • Helps acquire and use knowledge including use of computers, language, literacy
  • Inculcates development of self-help skills like grooming, feeding, hygiene etc
  • Learn to exhibit more positive social and emotional behaviors from peer models
  • Learn to generalize and apply their social skills to new social interactions (especially relevant for children with autism)

Research scholar at Montreal University, Kathleen O’Grady, herself the parent of a child with autism, recounts her own personal experience of her son’s participation in an integrated public school system. The outcome has been extremely positive, with encouraging responses from the school system, peers and educators involved in the school.

A consistent psycho-educational approach, with focus on the changing and evolving needs of children with disabilities as they grow can certainly benefit this population and also add value to human and social interactions, while helping to understand and accept such conditions in people with special needs.

Toronto Car Accident Lawyers: Cyclist–Motor-vehicle Collisions

Cyclists Are Vulnerable! 

Toronto personal injury lawyers Singh Barristers handle cases where bicyclists have been seriously injured in collisions with motor-vehicles.

A 1999 study showed that nearly 48% of Torontonians were cyclists, while more than 55% owned bicycles. Nearly 20% of the city’s population were utilitarian cyclists. They used their bicycles to commute to work/school, for shopping, traveling, visiting, doing errands etc.

Keeping this in mind, cycle transportation has been officially covered under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Toronto also has a Toronto Bike Plan to create infrastructure for this increasing population. Cyclists are duty bound to obey all traffic rules, signaling, staying on designated paths and areas, etc.

When bicycles and motor-vehicles collide, it’s the cyclist who is more vulnerable, being completely exposed to the forces of impact, even though they may wear protective gear like helmets, knee/elbow protection etc.

However, accidents can and do happen, most of them caused by someone’s fault or negligence. If you or a dear one has been injured in a cycle-motor-vehicle collision, contact the nearest personal injury lawyer in Toronto. You may be entitled to compensation.

Compensation Information

Consult experienced Toronto car accident lawyer with specific experience in successfully dealing with similar cases. They should be familiar with cycling laws/insurance regulations, current rulings/amendments/relevant changes to the Traffic/Insurance Acts, medical issues etc.

Each accident is unique and the circumstances surrounding each are highly individualistic. Compensation is available to injured parties from:

  • Insurance of car/cars involved in the crash
  • Cyclist’s own car insurance
  • Cyclist’s spouse’s car insurance
  • Car insurance of someone cyclist was dependent on
  • Ontario Accident Benefits Claims Fund 

Injured victims can also sue the negligent driver for monetary compensation.

Important Legal Aspects 

No-fault benefits are available to all those injured, regardless of fault, in automobile accidents in Ontario.

Auto insurance is mandatory in Ontario. Damages are available upto the policy limits. Experienced Toronto personal injury lawyers can advise you that cyclists are considered as “pedestrians” under the Highway Traffic Act. There is a “reverse onus” on car drivers to prove that the accident did not occur due to their fault/negligence.

We ensure that your rights are protected, help you get the compensation you deserve and your life back on track. 

If you, your family or a friend has been injured in an accident, please feel free to speak to one of our injury lawyers for a free consultation about how we are able to assist in making a personal injury claim. We consult in all cities across Ontario with a no win no fee guarantee. Our personal injury lawyers have helped victims secure millions of dollars in personal injury cases. Call us Toll Free On our 24/7 Injury Hotline: 1 – 844 495 7333 or Text a Personal Injury ‎Lawyer 24/7 and get instant help. (416 931 5015)