For many, this May long weekend marks the official beginning of spring/summer; depending on how you evaluate the temperature. After a very long, cold and windy winter, this May long weekend is a warm welcome; even if the temperatures aren’t “July in Windsor warm“.
As an accident lawyer, our firm has seen many cases over the years, which have stemmed from negligence or bad decisions over long weekends.
With this edition of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog, we wanted to give you some safety tips; do’s and dont’s; to make sure that this May long weekend is a pleasant and safe one, for you, your family and those around you.
1. Don’t drink and drive. Whether it’s a car, motorcycle, ATV, E-bike, Sea-doo, or a boat; alcohol and motor engines don’t mix. I can’t begin to tell you about the spike in calls that our law firm receives following long weekends with respect to alcohol related injuries, or drunk driving accidents. When you drink, your judgement is impaired. So is your co-ordination. Getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after drinking not only puts your own life at risk, but also the lives of your passengers and other motorists with whom you’re sharing the road or waterway. We all have seen the public service advertisements from such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. Driving drunk is ALWAYS a bad decision whereby you’re putting somebody’s life at risk. The consequences can last forever so be smart about it.
2. Check your boat. The May long weekend is often the first opportunity for many boat owners/cottagers to get out on the open water. After a long winter, everyone is eager to get out on the lake as soon as possible. Before you take out your boat, make sure that it’s in good running/working condition. Check the engine. Check the hull of the boat for any damage or leaks. Make sure there are flares on the boat. Check that the horn and air horn work before going out on the water. Make sure that the fire spray gun works as well. Make sure that you have enough life preservers for all of your passengers and that the life preservers haven’t expired and that they FLOAT! Sometimes, those life preservers get damaged over the winter and don’t float like they’re supposed to. Even more important is to make sure that all of the lighting on the boat is in proper working order. After a long winter, many of the lights on the boat may have gone out. This is particularly important if you’re taking out the boat at night, or early in the morning when that morning mist makes it hard to see on the lake. It’s a recipe for disaster if the lights aren’t working so that other boaters on the lake can see you. Make sure that your license is up to date and the same goes for your insurance on the boat. YES: YOU CAN INSURE A BOAT! If you have a small water vessel, it can also be rolled in to your home owner’s insurance policy. All you need to do is talk to your broker or insurer about it and I’m certain they can find a way to insure that vehicle. BUT, if you don’t tell your insurer I can guarantee that you may have a difficult time finding insurance AFTER an accident has happened. You know what’s bad? Getting in to a boating accident. You know what’s even worse than a boating accident? Finding out that the boat was NOT covered under your home owner’s insurance because you didn’t notify your insurer about the boat; nor did you have a separate policy for the boat. Talk about a bad coverage situation.
3. Be safe with anything to do with fire. There’s something about long weekends and FIRE which go hand and hand; and I’ve never quite understood it. People love using fireworks over long weekends. But when people use fireworks unsafely, it puts both property and people at risk. Beyond fireworks, people like a good camp fire and barbecue over the long weekend. Camp fire does not equal bonfire. Nor does it mean that dousing a fire with lighter fluid to see how high the flames can get is a good idea either. If you play with fire; you’re going to get burned; and there’s only so much a personal injury lawyer can do with a terrible fact pattern; particularly when the injured party was responsible for the uncontrollable flames in the first place.
4. Water & Pool Safety. If you have a pool, make sure that it’s fenced in. Also make sure that no children are playing in the pool while unsupervised. Make sure that the pool has floatation devices nearby in the event of emergency. CPR training is always a good idea. Is there a creek, river or lake near your cottage? The same safety rules for swimming apply to said body of water; but there’s only so much you can do for fencing off a lake.
5. Don’t rush on the roads. Unless your name is Brian Goldfinger, you probably don’t have access to your own private jet/helicopter to take you to/from the cottage to avoid traffic. (That was a joke, I really don’t have a cottage). Everyone across Ontario will be in a hurry on Friday, May 15 for the long weekend to begin. They will rush home from work, and then rush to take their most reliable route (rural country road or even the highway), to get to their long weekend retreat. Some will travel late a night in the hopes of avoiding traffic. I can tell you with the utmost certainly that it never pays to rush on the roads. Arrive alive. Take your time. Your cottage isn’t going to suddenly disappear because you’ve arrived a bit late. We would rather not hear from you because you’ve arrived safe; rather than have to visit you in hospital on account of a serious car crash which could have been avoided had your speed on the road been reduced. Did you know that the biggest cause of car accidents is people driving too fast. Slow down. Enjoy the extra day of weekend and get there in one piece. Not only are we giving you a safety tip, but we also may be helping you avoid getting a ticket or a fine from OPP which will be out on the roads in full force cracking down on speed and drunk driving.
I think that pretty much covers the bases for safety tips for the first nice weather long weekend of 2015. From everyone at Goldfinger Personal Injury Law, we wish all of you a safe, happy and healthy holiday long weekend. We also wish that Toronto’s professional soccer team would spend more time on building a winning team, rather than spending millions on larger amenities so that more people can come to the game and watch the train wreck that is their franchise. What a joke.