Each year our law firm sees a spike in calls immediately after the Canada Day Long Weekend. We expect this long weekend to be no different. The combination of long summer nights, alcohol, drugs and long weekend excitement can lead to some pretty dangerous situations which we should all hope to avoid.
While we have done iterations of this post in previous years, the safety tips are worth repeating. Some here are some old tips, and some new ones based on recent observations and queries from our intake of calls from across Ontario. Some of these tips may surprise you; while others are common sense. The thing with common sense is that it’s not so common; and sometimes it doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense to people.
- Alcohol, Drugs, while looking at your Cell Phone and operating a motorized vehicle don’t mix! Don’t drink and drive. Don’t toke and drive. And certainly don’t scroll and stare at your cell phone and drive. Over the Canada Day Long weekend we hear of a lot of cases whereby people aren’t just operating their cars or SUVs. Instead they’re out on the water on a boat or Sea-Do. Perhaps an ATV, motorcycle or a dirt bike. It really doesn’t matter. The cocktail of alcohol, drugs or looking at your cell phone and driving a vehicle isn’t a good idea. The police will be out in full force across Ontario to prevent and catch those who violate the rules. By doing so you aren’t just putting yourself, and your passengers at risk, but you are also putting the lives of those innocent people who you share the roads or water ways at risk as well. There are criminal and civil consequences for breaking the law which can be devastating.
- Here’s a new tip based on a few years of experience. If you’re out camping, of just having a BBQ in yard, please don’t leave your fire starter laying around. Lock it up once you’re done. Why? Fire starter is easily flammable. You never know who will be smoking nearby or wanting to light up a fire which has the potential to blaze out of control. A few unruly teens looking to have a good time over the Canada Day Long Weekend perhaps? The fire gets out of control and the next thing you know, the house burns down. These sort of things really do happen; and when they do; our office hears about it (so does the Fire Department!)
- Don’t rush! The cottage and the lake won’t disappear if you’re running a few minutes late! Everyone seems to be in a hurry over the Long Weekend to get from one place to another. This can result in some pretty dangerous driving on our local roads and highways. This is part of the reason why the police are out in full force to crack down on speeding. The faster you’re going, the less reaction time you’ll have and the greater the impact of a potential collision. It’s simply physics. The reality is that the Lake and the Cottage will still be there once you arrive; so arrive alive. This also ties in to those car hit Moose or car hit deer accident that we see so frequently. Driving on rural roads you will see some wildlife. Hitting a moose or a deer can cause disastrous injuries or even death. Problem is you can’t sue a moose or a deer so half of the car accident claim is gone and you may have only yourself to blame for driving too quickly. Fortunately, in Ontario you will still have an accident benefit claim against your own insurer. Unfortunately, you won’t have a claim against the moose or the deer.
- Don’t delay in contacting the police or getting the medical treatment you need following an accident. You would be amazed at the amount of people who delay in seeking medical attention or reporting a serious accident to the police because they don’t want to spoil their long weekend! After the long weekend is up, they seek to contact the police or get medical attention. The question which the Courts and insurer always want to know is why the Plaintiff delayed in contacting the police or getting the medical attention they needed. They tend to draw a negative inference based on the delay in reporting. They will assume that the accident must not have been very serious because of a lag in reporting. While this may not have been the case, this is the narrative which the insurer will attempt to create and you certainly don’t want to give them that sort of ammunition to defeat your case in the first place.
- Practice smart and safe swimming! Keep an eye out on the kids and have plenty of floaty devices around the pool. Swimming in the lake at night sounds like fun (and very cold), but you gotta be extra careful (especially if you’ve been drinking). Buddy systems work and should be used. Know where your buddy is at all times while you’re out on the water. Make sure that you have a life preserver or even a pool noodle close by in case someone is having a drowning event.
- Lighting, Lighting Everywhere at night! Got a Boat? Make sure the light work and you’re visible to others. Got a dark pathway which leads from the cottage down to the water? Make sure it’s lit up! Out for a late night walk? Flashlights or headlamps are a great way to see and be seen. One of the most common answers which Defendants give after they’ve hit a pedestrian is “I just didn’t see them”. This may be the case if the injured Plaintiff is out in a poorly lit area, walkway or street without any source of light or reflective gear. Rule of thumb: See and Be Seen if you’re out enjoying yourself at night. It could mean the difference between getting involved in an accident or not.