Driving penalties to go up, but at what ultimate cost?

Distracted driving penalties are increasing. Again.

And immediate roadside driving prohibitions (like those for impaired driving) might be coming.

Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving!

Would it be fair for distracted driving penalties to be as swift and severe as those for impaired driving?

Consider which behaviour is more deserving of swift and severe consequences.

Which is a clear, conscious choice?

Driving after drinking alcohol is a clear, conscious choice. Absolutely. But that’s not the offence.  The offence is doing so with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.05.

Depending on gender, weight and size, it could take as little as two or as many as five drinks over a two hour period to reach 0.05.

You might get it wrong. Adding to the problem, the consumption of any alcohol will impact on your ability to monitor that consumption!

Don’t you dare interpret me as making light of the serious problem of impaired driving, by the way.  I am simply comparing the 0.05 offence with distracted driving on the basis of conscious choice.

Neither cell phone use, nor texting can be “mistakenly” engaged in. Doing so while driving is a conscious choice.

A conscious choice to engage in an illegal driving behaviour that you know is dangerous. Doesn’t that cry out for swift and severe consequences?

Look at speeding as a comparison.

Exceeding a posted speed limit can occur absent-mindedly and results in a fine. Excessive speeding results in the immediate impoundment of your vehicle.

Do we need swift and severe consequences to curb distracted driving? Let’s look at the history of distracted driving penalties in British Columbia.

We prohibited distracted driving as of January 1, 2010, with a fine of $167.00.

A lack of effectiveness led to a change effective June 1, 2016.The fine increased from $167.00 to $368.00, along with 4 points there was a total financial hit for a first time offender of $543.00. A second offence resulted in fines and points costing up to $1,256.00.

That increase didn’t do much to change driver behaviours. According to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the number of distracted driving tickets issued between June, 2016 and June, 2017 (44,000) was a reduction of only 13 percent from the year before.

Now we have another increase coming as of March 1, 2018. No change for first time offenders, but a second offence will come with up to a whopping $1,996.00 of fines and points.

When announcing the latest change, our Attorney General was quoted as saying: “Once implemented, this change will treat distracted driving as the serious high-risk behaviour that it is; one that is on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding”.

I agree. It is a serious high-risk behaviour on par with impaired driving and excessive speeding. But no, this change does not bring the consequences up to those levels.

A first offender will still drive way with a few hundred dollars of fines and points. We need swift and severe.

READ MORE HERE about Goodness. Much ado about distracted driving! 

Source: Paul Hergott, Personal Injury Lawyer

Source: DriveSmartBC

Insurer must pay $237K in legal costs to elderly woman awarded $20K

An insurance company that played litigation hardball with an elderly car-accident victim has been ordered to pay $237,000 to cover the legal costs she incurred in winning a $20,000 settlement.

In her decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Sanderson said it would be contrary to public policy to reward the insurance company’s uncompromising behaviour by assessing minimal costs against it.

“Insurers can, of course, pursue whatever strategy options they deem fit,” Sanderson wrote. “But especially where such strategies may have wide ranging and adverse implications involving widespread denial of access to justice, the use of such strategies should not be encouraged by the giving of cost breaks on foreseeable costs consequences.”

The case arose in February 2009, when the car Maria Persampieri, 84, was in was rear-ended. Persampieri initially sued for $1 million.

In response, the defendants’ insurance company, Aviva Canada, said it would never pay her any damages. According to court records, Aviva said through its lawyers it would not offer a single loonie to settle. The company said it did not believe Persampieri had suffered any significant injuries and would fight her tooth and nail.

The only acceptable outcome was a zero dollar settlement, Aviva maintained. If Persampieri agreed to take no money, Aviva said it would not pursue legal costs against her. She refused.

However, following pretrial talks and mediation, Persampieri offered in March 2017 to settle for damages of $20,000, plus legal fees. Two months later, and just two weeks before trial, Persampieri said she would accept just $10,000.

“The parties all understood that to possibly succeed at trial, plaintiff’s counsel would need to call sufficient medical and other evidence to convince a jury that her injuries had been caused by the accident, that they were real, to prove the quantum of her damages and to satisfy this court that the threshold had been met,” Sanderson wrote.

Aviva opted for a trial that was held in May and June last year at which the company mounted a “vigorous defence,” Sanderson noted. In turn, Persampieri’s lawyer called extensive medical and other evidence.

The jury came back and awarded her a total of $67,500 in general damages and for housekeeping, medical and other costs. Following various deductibles mandated by law, Persampieri was left with a net total award of $20,414.83 _ more than the $10,000 she had agreed to accept before trial, documents show.

In arguing for substantial legal costs _ $268,000 _ Persampieri’s lawyer argued Aviva was fully entitled to adopt its take-no-prisoners approach, but would have “appreciated the obvious risks of so doing.” Aviva countered that the demand was unreasonable and should be proportional to what Persampieri was actually awarded at trial.

“The costs she is seeking are all out of proportion to the amount recovered and for that reason should be reduced,” Aviva maintained.

Sanderson rejected Aviva’s argument.

“For this court to let proportionality be the overriding, or even the predominant factor, would be grossly unfair to (Persampieri) and would be to reward the uncompromising, and _ in the light of the jury verdict _ unreasonable behaviour of the insurer,” Sanderson said.

Aviva had made it clear from the outset it would never pay Persampieri anything and the decision would not change, the judge noted, a position that she found would “render meaningless and make a mockery of” the pretrial resolution process.

Aviva took one last kick at the can, arguing that Persampieri should have pursued her case in small claims court given the $20,000 she was awarded _ which would have been far cheaper legally speaking. Sanderson rejected that argument, too, saying that approach would not have been practical.

After sifting through all the legal bills, she ordered Aviva to pay Persampieri a total of $237,017.50.

Woman charged after allegedly driving 60 km/h under limit on Highway 401

Police say an Ottawa-area woman is facing charges for allegedly driving 60 km/h under the speed limit on Highway 401 in eastern Ontario.

Ontario Provincial Police say they received numerous calls Wednesday night about an eastbound car travelling at 40 km/h in Front of Yonge Township, about 25 kilometres west of Brockville.

They say the callers said the car was in the fast lane with its high beams on.

OPP made several attempts to get the driver to pull onto the right shoulder, but eventually had to make a tandem stop with cruisers at the front and rear of the vehicle to move it off the highway.

They say the driver told officers she believed the speed limit was 50 km/h.

A 47-year-old woman is charged with unnecessary slow driving, failing to obey signs and not having an insurance card.

Developer sentenced to 3 years in $12M soccer stadium scam

A developer convicted of defrauding taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed effort to build a professional soccer stadium in Connecticut has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.

James Duckett Jr. was sentenced Wednesday, December 6, 2017 on 12 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. He was found guilty in July.

Duckett and another developer had been hired by Hartford to oversee development of a $12 million, 9,000-seat stadium.

But prosecutors allege Duckett and his partner never paid subcontractors and directed more than $1 million from the city to support a lavish lifestyle for Duckett and expenses unrelated to the stadium project.

The Major Arena Soccer League dropped the team before a game was ever played.

Duckett’s lawyer says the payments to him were compensation for his work.


Defense Doctor Opinion Rejected After Finding He Acted As “Advocate”

Source: http://bc-injury-law.com/blog

Adding to this site’s archived judgments of judicial criticism of expert witness ‘advocacy’, reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, rejecting the testimony of a defense hired expert.

In the December 6, 2017 case (Nagra v. Stapleton) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2014 collision that the Defendant admitted responsibility for.  Despite voicing some concerns about the Plaintiff’s credibility the Court accepted his medical evidence that he suffered injuries to his neck and low back as a result of the crash.

In the course of the trial the Defendants called a physician they hired who provided an opinion minimizing the collision’s connection to the injuries.  In rejecting this evidence Mr. Justice Cole found this expert “seemed to be more of an advocate” and provided the following critical comments:

[40]         Dr. Laidlow, called on behalf of the defendant, also confirms that movement of the neck noted during joint examination did seem to be consistent with what was observed spontaneously. Dr. Laidlow also found restrictive range of motion in the plaintiff’s neck but was of the view that his physical symptoms are at the same level or consistent with the plaintiff’s physical symptoms as a result of the 2012 motor vehicle accident.

[41]         I have difficulty with Dr. Laidlow’s evidence as he seemed to be more of an advocate, he was argumentative, and based his report, in part at least, on the fact that because there was no record of neck pain prior to his examination of the plaintiff, that the neck pain had been resolved to the state it was prior to the motor vehicle accident.

[42]         Dr. Laidlow’s opinion is based on the assumption that the neck pain that the plaintiff reported at the end of June 2013, continued on through 2013 and 2014, since the plaintiff was still experiencing neck pain when the June 2014 accident occurred. This assumption was made despite the fact that the plaintiff provided no information to suggest he was experiencing these pain symptoms in 2014 at the time of the accident. Dr. Laidlow admitted that he found no clinical records between 2014 and the date of the accident where the plaintiff reported ongoing neck pain or headaches. Dr. Laidlow reviewed the report of the plaintiff’s family doctor to indicate that there were no reports in his records of pain symptoms similar to those sustained in the accident. Instead, Dr. Laidlow relied on a report by Dr. Novak from June 16, where he indicated that the plaintiff was suffering from chronic neck pain “likely since 2012”.

[43]         I prefer the evidence of Drs. Watson and Waseem, however, the weight to be given to their evidence is diminished because I do not find the plaintiff to be a credible witness.


IBC releases 2017 Top 10 stolen vehicles list

Source: IBC

Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) published on December 5, 2017 its annual Top 10 Most Frequently Stolen Vehicles list. High-end luxury SUVs are the most commonly stolen vehicles in Ontario.

This year’s 10 most frequently stolen vehicles in IBC’s Ontario region are:

  1. 2016 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  2. 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  3. 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs
  4. 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 2WD Pick-Up
  5. 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD and GMC Yukon 4WD SUVs
  6. 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 4WD and GMC Sierra 2500 4WD SUVs
  7. 2003 Hummer H2 4-door 4WD SUV
  8. 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe 4-door 4WD and GMC Yukon 4-door 4WD SUVs
  9. 2014 Toyota 4-Runner 4-door 4WD SUV
  10. 2005 Buick Rainier 4-door 2WD, Chevrolet Trailblazer 4-door 2WD and GMC Envoy SUVs

Quoting Statistics Canada as the IBC source, Donaldson noted that Guelph, Ontario reported the largest auto theft activity increase in Canada at 49%. Windsor reported a 14% increase and St. Catharines experienced a 5% increase. Of Ontario’s two largest cities, Toronto reported a 4% increase while Ottawa experienced a 1% decline. Theft was also down 17% in Sudbury, 12% in Barrie and London, 9% in Kingston, and 1% in Peterborough and Hamilton. In Ontario, the rate of recovery for stolen vehicles increased to 60%, up 2 per cent from last year.

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