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SAFETY: Your Best Defence

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Guest Post by Ari J. SingerSinger Kwinter Personal Injury Lawyers

Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.


 

Bike riders are especially vulnerable on the roads; no bike rider is going to win in an accident with a motor vehicle. The best defence is to do whatever is possible to avoid a collision. Some common safety gear includes: a helmet with reflective technology, reflective tape on multiple parts of the bike, a rear light, a front light, and reflective clothing.

One of the things we learn as personal injury lawyers is that despite the best precautions, a person can be involved in an accident through no fault of their own. But that doesn’t mean that precautions shouldn’t be taken! Rather, if the proper safety gear is used, accidents can be avoided and injuries reduced.

Despite the best precautions, accidents do occur. When that happens, a rider might need extensive medical and rehabilitation help. In our system, if a person is involved in an “accident” with a motor vehicle, they are entitled to no-fault benefits. These benefits include income replacement and medical/rehabilitation benefits that are not otherwise covered by OHIP.

An interesting example of an “accident” is where a bike rider swerves or falls down specifically to avoid being hit by a car. Even if the bike was not struck by the vehicle, the rider may still be entitled to benefits. As a result of a complicated regime, anytime a bike rider is injured, they should contact a lawyer to ensure their rights are protected.

For more information on Brain Injury Awareness Month and the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, please click here.

For more information on Statutory Accident Benefits and your rights as a Toronto cyclist, please visit our website or contact Singer Kwinter at 1.866.285.6927.

Photo by syncros on Flickr

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Cyclists and the Highway Traffic Act: Reducing the risk of accidents

united-drivers-training-car-drivers-traffic-highway-act-book-250-200Guest Post by Nga T. DangSinger Kwinter Personal Injury Lawyers

Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.


 

During Toronto Bike Month, as well as Brain Injury Awareness Month, it is important to increase awareness regarding laws that cyclists are required to obey.

Accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles typically result in serious injuries and are therefore more likely to result in law suits. In such cases, some fault may be attributed to the cyclist if he or she failed to follow the rules of the road, which can reduce the amount of damages that he or she would otherwise have been entitled to.

To reduce the risk of accidents and avoid being found partially at fault, it is important to keep in mind that cyclists are required to follow the same road laws that motor vehicles are required to follow under the Highway Traffic Act because bicycles are “vehicles” under the Act. Under the Highway Traffic Act, the following are some of the rules cyclists must obey:

  • Stop at stop signs and red lights and obey all other traffic signals;
  • Right-of-way determines who goes through an intersection first;
  • Stop behind street car doors when they open;
  • Stop behind stopped school buses;
  • Pass slower vehicles by riding to the left of it (do not pass on the right side of a right-turning
  • vehicle);
  • Ride in the designated direction on one-way streets;
  • Signal all turns;
  • As the slower vehicle, cyclists should generally ride in the right-hand lane or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge for the roadway, unless they are turning left or passing other vehicles.

For more information on cycling rules refer to Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/pdfs/cycling-guide.pdf

For more information about head injuries, check out The Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s “Are You Aware” campaign supporting Brain Injury Awareness Month in Ontario.

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Head Injuries & Cycling Safety

 

Guest Post by Veronica S. Marson, Singer Kwinter Personal Injury Lawyers

Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.


 

During Toronto Bike Month, it is important to keep in mind some safety issues that arise while cycling in the city.

The per capita collision rate for cyclists in Toronto is one of the highest relative to other large Canadian cities. Cyclists are at a high risk of colliding with motor vehicles and can become seriously injured when they are not wearing helmets.

Cycling is the #1 cause of sports-related head injuries. According to the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, head injuries account for 20-40% of all cycling-related injuries treated in Canadian emergency departments each year. Head injuries also account for approximately 45-100% of cycling-related deaths among Canadian youth and children.

Research has shown that cyclists who ride without a helmet are 3x more likely to die of a head injury than those who do.

In order to minimize your risk of sustaining a head injury while cycling, be sure to follow these simple safety tips:

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Keep your bike in good condition and inspect it before every ride.
  • Wear bright clothing, use lights at night, and be visible to other drivers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the presence of drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists.
  • Ride carefully around parked cars and ensure you are in the field of vision of motorists pulling
  • out of parking spaces.
  • Follow the rules of the road.
  • Make a complete stop at every red light and stop sign.
  • Take a cell phone, emergency cash, and ID with you in case of emergency.
  • Contact local biking clubs and organizations for additional cycling safety tips and information about cycling in your community.

For more information about head injuries, check out The Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s “Are You Aware” campaign supporting Brain Injury Awareness Month in Ontario.

 

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June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

areyouaware (BIST LOGO - May_June 2014)By Ari J. Singer, Singer Kwinter Personal Injury Lawyers

Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.


 

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month In Ontario. The overlap between Brain Injury Awareness Month and Toronto Bike Month presents a unique opportunity to share a few important facts and figures with the Biking Toronto community.

Statistics quoted by The Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s areyouaware.ca campaign offer a clear picture of brain injury occurrences among Canadians:

  • The annual incidence of TBI is greater than that of Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, HIV/AIDS and Breast Cancer combined
  • 50,000 Canadians sustain brain injuries each year; more than 11,000 Canadians die each year as a result of brain injury
  • Traumatic brain injury is the leading killer and disabler of Canadians under the age of 45

Being involved in an accident with a car while riding a bike is a traumatic event for everyone involved. The driver of the car has insurance, but what about the bike rider?

In Ontario, if a person suffers a catastrophic brain injury the benefits available are crucial to a beneficial recovery.

If the rider is injured in a motor vehicle accident, their own insurance policy can provide benefits. These benefits are called Statutory Accident Benefits. They are no-fault benefits. This means that it doesn’t matter how the accident with the car occurred. They may even cover you if you don’t collide with the car – for example, you had to swerve quickly (which causes you to crash) to avoid being hit by a car.

These benefits are available to anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident, whether a passenger in the car, a pedestrian, or a cyclist. Even if you don’t have your own insurance, these benefits will be available through different insurance companies that depend on the type of accident and the details of the parties involved.

Injuries can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Although the accident benefits are not perfect, they provide a significant source for income and rehabilitation services that might not otherwise be available.

For more information on Brain Injury Awareness Month and the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, please visit areyouaware.ca.

For more information on Statutory Accident Benefits and your rights as a Toronto cyclist, please visit our website or contact Singer Kwinter at 1-866-285-6927

Ride safe!

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The News Cycle: Coroner’s Report / Bike Helmet Edition

The News Cycle: Coroner’s Report / Bike Helmet EditionA couple weeks ago, the Chief Coroner released a report titled “Cycling Death Review: A Review of All Accidental Cycling Deaths in Ontario from January 1st, 2006 to December 31st, 2010″ and made recommendations to make our streets safer.  They were, among others:

  1. Adoption of a “complete streets” approach in community planning
  2. Development of an Ontario Cycling Plan to guide the development of cycling infrastructure
  3. A  cycling safety public awareness and education strategy
  4. Strategies to promote and support helmet use for cyclists of all ages.
  5. Implementation of mandatory helmet legislation for cyclists of all ages, within the context of an evaluation of the impact of this legislation on cycling activity.
  6. Establishment of a “one-meter” rule for vehicles when passing cyclists.
  7. Prioritizing the development of paved shoulders on provincial highways.
  8. Mandatory side-guards for heavy trucks.
These are all great recommendations, but of course the one that almost every media outlet glommed on to was the “mandatory helmet legislation” one, even though that was the most contentious among the report’s authors of any of the recommendations.  The recommendation also includes the stipulation that an evaluation of the impact of any such legislation should be done to ensure that it’s not detrimental to the adoption of cycling as a transportation choice.

 

Before I list most of the articles I found about the Coroner’s Report, I’ll lay out again my personal view about bike helmets… which will no doubt upset people on both sides of the issue.  I get lots of comments on the @bikingtoronto twitter account and the BikingToronto facebook page when I post anything the comes down on one side or the other.

 

Facts about Bike Helmets
  • Helmets are super important – they protect your brain if you hit your head
  • You will definitely be glad you have a helmet on if you fall over or get hit and hit your head on something hard
  • A helmet will not prevent a car from hurting your head if it runs over your head (helmets are just foam and plastic after all)
  • A helmet will not prevent you from breaking arms, legs, ribs, and many other body parts
  • A helmet will not prevent you from dying
Facts about Head Injuries
  • You are just as likely (if not more likely) to have a fatal head injury while driving or being a passenger in a motor vehicle, having a shower, or going up or down stairs as you are riding a bike.
  • Helmets are recommended/legislated for motor cycles
  • Helmets are not recommended/legislated for driving or riding in a car
  • Helmets are not recommended/legislated for showering
  • Helmets are not recommended/legislated for going up or down stairs
I’m not opposed to bike helmets (even making them mandatory), but I am opposed to the hysteria promoted by pro-helmet people.  Unless you promote helmet use for ALL activities during which someone can suffer a head injury, I do not want to hear why only cyclists should be mandated to wear them.

 

It is for these reasons that I wear a helmet, my wife wears a helmet, and my daughter wears a helmet… yet I do not find fault with anyone who chooses not to wear one.

 

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