Trauma is in the air: Simple suggestions to stay safe in Spring and Summer

Thomson Rogers' Chris Lazaris shares tips on remaining legally protected during 'trauma season'

Trauma is in the air: Simple suggestions to stay safe in Spring and Summer
Chris Lazaris, associate at Thomson Rogers

This article was provided by Thomson Rogers.

Spring is here, and Ontarians are waiting eagerly for a few months of bright sun and high temperatures. As always, there will be plenty of vacations, weekends at the cottage, and fun summer activities such as hiking, surfing, water skiing and the like. To healthcare professionals and lawyers, however, the Spring and Summer take on a different character and are known as “trauma season”.

While everyone is encouraged to enjoy life to the fullest in the months to come, here are just a few modest suggestions to help make sure people remain safe and legally protected:

  1. Understand what risks you are assuming when you engage in any activity. Certain activities carry with them inherent risks. Mountain biking, surfing, and outdoor team sports often lead to injuries that are voluntarily “assumed” by everyone participating. In the legal context, getting injured in these circumstances greatly restricts your right to recover in a lawsuit. Understanding these risks will allow you to make informed choices about when to participate in an activity and when to abstain.
     
  2. Drive safely and purchase optional accident benefits from your automobile insurer. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that far more motor vehicle accidents occur in the summer rather than in the winter. Consciously adopting safe driving habits will decrease the risk of getting hurt while driving. If something unfortunate does happen, the additional policy limits available to those who purchased optional benefits greatly help them recover from any injuries and will open the door to a potentially higher settlement with their insurer. Optional benefits allow drivers to increase their funding for medical, rehabilitation and attendant care benefits from $65,000.00 to up to $2 million and their income replacement benefit from $400 per week up to $1,000 per week in exchange for a relatively modest sum.
     
  3. Wear safety gear. We sometimes perceive it as uncomfortable or unfashionable to protect ourselves with appropriate safety gear like helmets, elbow pads, seat belts, and life jackets. It’s no surprise that because of this practice, there is an abundance of head injuries every Spring and Summer, especially for cyclists, boat operators, motorcycle operators, and others engaged in a variety of outdoor and indoor activities. In some cases, wearing safety gear can be the difference between life and death.
     
  4. If you intend to operate an off-road vehicle like an ATV, make sure you know how to drive it and follow the rules of the road. Too often we eagerly jump onto a friend’s ATV and end up hurt because we do not know how to properly drive it or understand the rules of the road for ATVs. While some people have had recent success in suing ATV owners for their injures by allowing them to operate the ATV unsupervised or with little training, there can be limitations on the amount of money you can recover especially if you are driving recklessly.[1] By the same token, ATV owners should make sure their ATV is insured under their car insurance policy and take care not to allow their friends and family operate ATVs unsupervised, particularly if they have not had proper training. Further, ATV’s cannot be driven on the roadway without a license plate and auto insurance and all riders must wear helmets.  Be aware of the age and license restrictions if the ATV is being driven on the roadway.  Under the Operation of Off-Road Vehicles on Highways Regulation you must have a full driver’s license to drive the ATV on the road and children under 8 are prohibited from being the operator.  If the ATV is being driven on private property, the statutory minimum age for ATV operation is twelve years old unless the ATV is being driven on land owned by the vehicle owner or (not “and”) under the close supervision of an adult. If you or your children intend on driving an ATV this summer make sure the ATV is insured, you are familiar with how to drive it and understand the rules of the road.
     
  5. Mind your surroundings on recreational parks and trails. The municipalities and regions that maintain these parks are held to a much lower standard when it comes to ensuring the safety of these areas. Make sure to follow all applicable signs and maps, and steer clear of any areas that are off limits. Hazards to be mindful of include tripping hazards, steep cliffs, falling trees, and areas that appear accessible but which can result in getting trapped.   
     
  6. If you invite others onto your property, ensure the area is safe and notify your guests of any risks. Many residents of Ontario regularly invite friends and family over to their homes and cottages to host barbecues or go swimming. In these circumstances, owners should make sure they clear their homes of any hazards and draw clear boundaries with guests. Be especially mindful of everyone’s alcohol consumption and do not be afraid to cut guests off if necessary. Lastly, prevent guests from driving home under the influence of alcohol and be prepared to offer alternative methods of transportation, or to insist that they stay the night. Similarly, visitors should be mindful of their surroundings and not rely on the safety practices of their friends and family members when they visit their properties.  

These are just a few considerations to keep in mind while we enjoy the warm weather. Finally, if something traumatic does happen to you or a loved one, it is important to seek immediate medical care to ensure that the injured party is well taken care of. It is also important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect any rights you have against any at-fault parties.

If you've been injured in an accident, reach out to Chris Lazaris and the team at Thomson Rogers to help you. Thomson Rogers is one of Canada’s largest litigation firms. When you’re dealing with the most difficult life events, they fiercely advocate for you—with the practical advice and real life counsel you require in your time of need.


[1] See: Desrochers v. McGinnis, 2024 ONCA 63.

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