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Will I be sued if someone was injured in my swimming pool?

After our segment on CTV Morning Live on July 9, 2014, a viewer wrote in to ask why she would be held responsible if someone was injured while acting “foolishly” in her swimming pool.  This is a great question.

It is very important to remember that under Ontario’s legal system, anyone can be sued for almost anything.  It only costs $181 dollars to file a Statement of Claim with the court.  When I am asked by someone if they “could be sued”, I always answer “yes” because there is no gatekeeper at the court who forbids the filing of claims that are doomed to failure.

Of course that does not mean that every law suit will be successful.  Nothing could be further than the truth.  The real question is, if some was injured while acting foolishly in your home pool, could you lose a lawsuit or be ordered to pay damages.  Every case is different and fact specific.  However, it is certainly true that you could be successfully sued if someone were injured in your pool.  As a pool owner it is very important to ensure that you have a decent amount of liability insurance.    Catastrophic injuries including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries are frequent tragic consenquences of swimmimg pool accidents.  If there is liability, damages could be very high, into the multi-millions.

In Ontario, all property owners and occupiers are responsible for taking reasonable care to see that people on their premises are reasonably safe. This duty is set out in the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act and is similar to the usual common law duty of care  in a regulae negligence case. The duty is based on an objective test of reasonableness.    For pool owners, this duty likely includes a duty:

  • to ensure that your pool complies with all local by-laws and other safety codes,
  • to ensure that the pool and surrounding is in a safe condition.
  • to warn about where the deep end starts, and what that depth is
  • to provide a ring buoy or rescue hook or other rescue supplies.

The owner / occupier’s duty is even owed to tresspassers –like the midnight fence jumpers pool owners worry about!

If someone is at your home and acting foolishly around your swimming pool, you may well have a duty to intervene to save them from themselves.  Certainly, you would have a duty to control children and teens in and around your pool.

If a guest at your home is injured while acting foolishly, that foolish behaviour may result in a reduction of his or her damages based on contributory negligence.   However,  in high damage cases any percentage at fault could leave a home owner’s assets at risk without property liability insurance in place.

 

 

 

Why Are You Calling it an Accident When it Was Preventable?

After our segment on CTV Morning Live on July 9, 2014, a viewer emailed Brenda Hollingsworth to comment that all this talk of “accidents” was misplaced.  All the boating and swimming pool incidents we were discussing were not accidents, he argued, but preventable events.  Some clients have a similar reaction when we refer to their motor vehicle collision as an accident.

Here is Brenda’s explanation. You may or may not agree.

First, “motor vehicle accident” is a term of art.  All of the precedents, legal treaties, police paperwork etc, refer to motor vehicle accidents or MVAs.  Basically, the use of the word “accident” is so prevalent in my business that it rolls off my tongue without too much thought.  I did try to use motor vehicle collision for a while, but it didn’t stick.  In the U.S., many of the personal injury lawyers I know refer to car accidents as car “wrecks”.  That is certainly descriptive, but too harsh or graphic for me.

Second, when lawyers say “accident” what we mean is that the negligent actor / at-fault person / defendant did not INTEND to cause harm.   We sue for negligence.  We don’t prosecute intentional crime or assaults when we represent injured people in our office.  Our compensation model in Ontario focuses on the degree of injury to the victim, not the degree of fault or moral culpability of the wrong doer.  You don’t get more money if the accident was easliy preventable.  The quantum of damages is based on the severity of the victim’s impairments, assuming the other party caused the injuries.

From my perspective, the fact that an incident was preventable does not mean it wasn’t an accident.  Most accidents are preventable.  We spend a lot of time in our newsletter and on our website promoting safety and accident prevention.

What do you think?  Should we scrap the term accident? What word should we use instead?

How Do I Prepare for a Free Consultation with Auger Hollingsworth?

Free consultations with the personal injury team at Auger Hollingsworth are a great way to get your legal questions answered. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect, and what to bring with you.

What should I expect during a free consultation?

At the initial client meeting, the personal injury lawyer will ask you some questions about how the accident happened, tell you about the limitation period, and get an overview of what you have been through since the time of your accident.

You’ll be asked about the insurance coverage, your dealings with the insurance company and about the medical treatment you’ve received to date.

To help make the most of your appointment, we suggest you bring the following items:

  1. Any documents you have received from, or sent to, an insurance company related to your claim.
  2. Copies of any police reports you have.
  3. Copies of any medical reports you have.
  4. Contact information and insurance policy numbers or claim numbers if you have them.
  5. A list of any medical specialists you have seen.
  6. A list of your medications and current therapies.

If you don’t have all these items readily available, no problem! But if you do, bring them along.

What will I learn during a free consultation?

We’ll tell you about the claim process, and give you some options for how you should proceed with your case. What you will not be told is exactly what your case is worth. If a lawyer ever tries to tell you an exact number, be wary. There is no way to know what a case is worth until a lawyer has seen your medical file and until they how much you will recover.

Catch Brenda Hollingsworth’s video for a quick overview of the initial consultation process.

Have an injury you’d like to discuss with our team? Give our offices a call at 613-233-4529 and ask about our free, no-obligation consultations.

6 Free Legal Publications You Don’t Want to Miss!

Why is Auger Hollingsworth the Market Leader When it Comes to Free Legal Information? 

Because we know how important information is! Knowledge is power, but legalese often gets in the way. We have decided to put an end to that.

At Auger Hollingsworth, we’re making it our goal to even the playing field between accident victims and insurance companies with free legal publications and information. Here are some of the key resources that we offer for free on our website.

Free Books

1) Injured Victim’s Guide to Fair Compensation

The authors, Brenda Hollingsworth and Richard Auger, are Ottawa-based personal injury lawyers who were concerned about the lack of information available to Ontario residents facing injuries from an accident. While there is a lot of material on the internet, it is hard to sort through which principles apply to Ontarians. Our laws are unique, especially in the motor vehicle realm. Order the Injured Victim’s Guide to Fair Compensation.

2) Crash Course: A Savvy Woman’s Guide to Car Accident Claims

In this book Brenda Hollingsworth shares her years of legal experience to help you make informed decisions. This book outlines the process required to navigate the world of insurance compensation and pick the right lawyer, if you choose to use one. The purpose of this book is to provide you with honest, useful information to review and study in the comfort of your own home. No hype. No pressure. Order Crash Course: A Savvy Woman’s Guide to Car Accident Claims.

3) Spinning Out of Control: The Ontario Bicycle Accident Handbook

In this book, learn about safety tips; the legal and insurance issues that surround cycling in Ontario; and how to make an insurance claim if you have been badly injured. Order Spinning Out of Control.

Free Publications

4) Recovery Newsletter

Every month Brenda and Richard release a newsletter with updates on personal injury law. Never miss an important update and get on our mailing list today!

5) Recovery Mag

If you’ve been wondering about getting a lawyer for your injuries, then this is the publication for you. In Recovery Mag we cover everything you need to know to make the next step. Read a summary of the publication here and order your free copy.

Free Guides

6) Crash Kit for Your Glove Box

Even better than getting information after an accident is knowing what to collect at the scene. So often when we are in an accident our brain goes on autopilot and we can’t think straight. Prepare for when that happens and order our Crash Kit, which brings you through the steps to take and information you need to get from the other driver and the accident scene. Order your Crash Kit.

Catch Brenda Hollingsworth on CTV Ottawa Morning Live’s Ask The Expert discussing all of the publications in detail. Have questions about an accident you were in? Call 613-233-4529 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Too Injured to Cook? No Worries! Top 4 Healthy Delivery Spots in Ottawa

Spice up your home recovery with these 4 healthy delivery options.

Most food delivery options look pretty similar – usually fried, usually delicious, usually not so good for you! Here are four local options in Ottawa that are reinventing delivery with healthy, local and organic options. And guess what? They’re delicious too! :-)

1. Eating Well Ottawa

They have organic produce with delivery available to all homes and offices in the Ottawa region. What could be better?! To order from Eating Well Ottawa all you have to do is pick the quantity of food you’ll need for the week, and they handle the rest.

Bonus: Each week is a different variety of produce so you’ll never get bored.

Find out more at eatingwellottawa.ca

2. Scratch Kitchen

Scratch Kitchen is a family-owned and operated business that prepares gourmet frozen meals and delivers them to your home. Scratch Kitchen is known for using loads of locally-sourced and organic ingredients.

Bonus: All their meals are prepared without preservatives and are low in sodium.

Find out more at scratchkitchen.com

3) Red Apron

Red Apron has weekly menus that you can sign up to receive through email. Open your inbox, choose the days of the week you want to order and how much, and then dinner will be prepared.

Bonus: All their menus are based around what foods are fresh and in season.

Find out more at redapron.ca

4) Vegan Cuts

So your meals are covered, but now you ask, “what about some snacks?!” Vegan Cuts is a company based in Ottawa that delivers a different variety of snacks each month. So you get to try all different types of healthy treats, and discover some new favourites along the way.

Find out more at vegancuts.com

Have a favourite delivery service? Let us know! We’d love to share new recommendations with our clients info@personalinjuryottawa.ca

Important Update! Auger Hollingsworth Launches Recovery Mag for Injured Victims

Recovery Magazine
If you’re wondering about getting legal advice, you need this free resource!

Last week Auger Hollingsworth Law Firm launched our own Recovery Mag, a magazine that covers everything you need to know before you get legal advice.
Inside this magazine, you will find information on:

  1.  Auger Hollingsworth and our focus on accident and injury law
  2. The types of cases we handle and past results
  3. Answers to frequently asked questions on personal injury law
  4. What to expect if you become a client and our 13 promises
  5. 10 things we love about being personal injury lawyers
  6. What to look for in a firm
  7. What our clients say – real reviews from real clients!

So stop wondering! Get the information you need to move forward with Recovery Mag. Order your copy here.

Ready to take the next step? Call our offices today at 613-233-4529 to book a free consultation with one of the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.

Injured? Don’t wonder if you need a lawyer. Ask!

 

A lot of injured people come into my office for a free consultation and tell me they had been pondering calling in for months before finally making the decision to call. All that wondering …why not act?

If you are injured and have been thinking about speaking to a lawyer, take the step, stop worrying, and get the information you need today.

Our personal injury team is highly experienced and can usually tell you right on the phone whether you should come into our offices to talk to us. The initial consultation is free. The worst thing that can happen is that you find out you don’t have a case.

When it comes to injury claims, time is of the essence. Get the information you need right away. Don’t miss important deadlines!

Why Get a Free Consultation?

Knowledge really is power. It is our personal mission to level the playing field between accident victims and insurance companies. We believe that you can maximize your financial recovery if you start with a good understanding of the personal injury process. The more you know, the less likely it is that an insurance company can take advantage of you.

After the consultation, if we agree to work together, then there will be no more:

  • worrying if you are making a mistake in your case;
  • wondering if the insurance company is treating you fairly;
  • dealing with the insurance adjuster; or
  • tracking down your records.

You don’t have to deal with the insurance companies alone, we are here to help! 

If you’re injured, don’t wonder if you need a personal injury lawyer, call us today at 613-233-4529 to ask about our free, no-obligation consultations. 

 

 

4 Key Skills for Bike Safety

Tips for Teaching Your Kids How to Stay Safe on the Road

You are the key to your child’s bike safety. Make sure your children are properly trained and skilled enough to handle a bicycle before giving them free reign of the road. Here are 4 key skills that they need to learn.

1) Riding in a Straight Line: This seems like common-sense, but too often children are allowed to ride on streets before they have the ability to ride in a straight line. Take your child to a park or empty parking lot and have him or her practice riding on the striped parking lines.

2) Turning: This skill can be very difficult for beginner cyclists to master. Without this skill, children risk losing control on a turn and sustaining an injury. To really master this skill, bring your child out to practice riding “figure eights”. As turning skills improve, have him or her ride in smaller and tighter formations that will closely resemble turning out of an emergency situation.

3) Looking Back Without Swerving: Once your child possesses basic cycling skills, it is time to teach more advanced riding maneuvers. Cyclists must practice looking behind their bicycles before making left turns. To practice this, take your child to an empty parking lot or park and have him or her ride past you. As they do so, either hold up your hand or hold it behind your back. Shout “look!” and have your child look back and tell you if they saw your hand up.

4) Braking Control: To practice proper braking draw a line on your driveway and have your child practice driving towards the line and braking right in front of it. Make sure your child brakes in a fluid manner, as sudden braking can lead to skidding.

Learning basic biking skills isn’t always enough. Teach your child about 10 Bike Laws You Need to Know. The best way to keep safe on the road is by following the rules!

If you were injured as a cyclists, get the information you need to receive the compensation you deserve ordering our book Spinning Out of Control: The Ontario Bicycle Accident Handbook. In this book, learn about safety tips; the legal and insurance issues that surround cycling in Ontario; and how to make an insurance claim if you have been badly injured

10 Bicycle Laws You Need to Know!

Bicycles are considered vehicles and are therefore subject to Ontario traffic law. Understanding bicycle laws, and thinking of your bicycle as a vehicle will help you to avoid an accident.

Here are some facts you need to know:

  1. Bicycles must stop for red lights and stop signs.
  2. Cyclists must always signal when turning.
  3. Cyclists must stop for school buses, streetcars, pedestrians and crosswalks.
  4. Bicycles must have a white front light and a red rear light half an hour before sunset and after sunrise.
  5. Bikes must have white reflector tape on the front forks and reflective tape on the rear forks.
  6. Your bike must have a bell or a horn as well as at least one brake system on the rear wheel.
  7. Bikes made for one are not allowed to carry passengers. That means no one is allowed to be sitting on your handlebars!
  8. All cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a bicycle helmet. Parents and guardians shall not knowingly permit cyclists under 16 to ride without a helmet.
  9. You must be able to have both hands on your handlebars. This means no carrying purses, packages or groceries if they prevent you from having both hands on your bike.
  10. You’re not allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk or curb. As a vehicle, you have to make sure to stick to the road or designated cycling paths.

Learn more about my tips for cyclists in my Ask the Expert segment on CTV Ottawa Morning Live with Lianne Liang – “How do I keep my children safe during bicycle season?”

If you were injured as a cyclists, get the information you need to receive the compensation you deserve ordering our book Spinning Out of Control: The Ontario Bicycle Accident Handbook. In this book, learn about safety tips; the legal and insurance issues that surround cycling in Ontario; and how to make an insurance claim if you have been badly injured.

Personal Injury Pro Tip: Get Clear Umbrellas for Your Kids!

It probably comes as no surprise that a high majority of my clients in pedestrian accidents get injured during periods of high rain or snow. The first thing we think about when we see a rainy forecast ahead is reaching for that umbrella, but did you know that the type of umbrella you choose can play a role in your safety?

Whether you are a pedestrian crossing the road, or a driver dashing through the parking lot to get to your vehicle, being able to see the traffic ahead of you can mean the difference between reaching your destination and ending up in the hospital. One key way to avoid this problem is by using any means necessary to increase your visibility.

The type of umbrella you choose may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about it, what is the first thing you do when you go out in the rain? Most likely, you pull your umbrella close to you to cover as much of you as possible. I haven’t seen one person yet keep their umbrella up high for the sake of visibility.

As a personal injury lawyer, I recommend that you seriously consider purchasing clear umbrellas for your family. They are extremely practical when it comes to seeing what is ahead of you and currently quite stylish!

Learn more about my tips for pedestrians in my Ask the Expert segment on CTV Ottawa Morning Live with Lianne Liang – “How Can I Stay Safe as a Pedestrian in Ontario?“

If you were injured as a pedestrian, get the information you need to receive the compensation you deserve ordering our Injured Victim’s Guide to Fair Compensation.

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