As millions in the southern half of the province experienced earlier this month, winters in Ontario can pack a punch. Whenever we’re hit with a blast of wintry weather, personal injury lawyers brace for an influx of inquiries related to motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, snowmobiling injuries, and more.
In this blog, we’ll look at ways to avoid some of the most common winter injuries.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Although motor vehicle accidents happen all year in Ontario, there’s no question that winter is the riskiest season for driving. The roads are slippery and slick, the nights are long, and even during the day visibility can be reduced by a variety of factors.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises to catastrophic, life-changing brain and spinal injuries. If you’re planning to be on the roads this winter – as most of us are – the following safety tips can reduce your risk of collision:
- Slow down: Ontario drivers have a problem with excess speed. Too many of the calls that our personal injury lawyers receive pertain to speed-related motor vehicle accidents. Controlling your speed is always important, but it’s especially critical during the winter. Inclement conditions can make it more difficult to identify and respond to dangers on the road, so maintain plenty of distance between other vehicles and never drive faster than the conditions allow.
- Equip your vehicle: Winter tires are a must in Ontario, but you’ll need more than good traction to be fully prepared for the 401 in February. Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is full, consider getting your car –especially your brakes – checked before the season gets underway, and stash a first aid and emergency kit in your trunk.
- Never drive under the influence: Even though drunk driving isn’t as common as it once was in Ontario, it’s still important for motorists to understand its risks. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol reduces reaction time, impairs judgement, and puts both you and the drivers around you at significantly increased risk of an accident.
Slip and Fall Accidents
The first step to enjoying the Ontario winter is leaving your house and getting out in the elements. Of course, the moment you leave your house you are at risk of a slip and fall accident. While most slip and falls result in nothing worse than minor aches and pains (and a bruised ego), some can cause devastating spinal or brain injuries, particularly among older Canadians. In the United States, the CDC identified ‘falls’ as the leading cause of injury among aging Americans.
To avoid slip and falls this winter, considering the following tips:
- Footwear: If you’re heading out in icy or snowy conditions, always make sure to wear proper footwear. And be aware: not all winter boots are created equal.
- Slow down: Just like with winter driving, slowing down can help you avoid accidents while out for a winter walk. You may also consider adjusting your walking style: abandon long, confident strides and embrace short, shuffling, penguin-like steps.
- Maintain your property: As much as possible, keep your front steps, driveway, walkway, and the sidewalk in front of your house clear of ice and snow and well salted. Doing so will make winter safer for you and your neighbours.
Don’t let the snow-haters fool you: winter in Ontario is a prime time for activity, socialization, and fun. Whether you enjoy snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing, shinny hockey, or simply walking through your snow-covered neighbourhood, there’s plenty to do in our province from December to March.
Of course, with each of these activities comes the risk of accident and injury. Take snowmobiling, for example. Snowmobiling is a beloved pastime for thousands of Ontarians, and each year dozens of Canadians die in largely preventable snowmobile accidents. Data released last year by Statistics Canada found that from 2013 to 2019, on average, 73 people died across the country in unintentional snowmobile events. Alcohol or drug use and excessive speed were the two most common risk factors, contributing to 55 per cent and 48 per cent of fatal accidents, respectively.
With that in mind, we offer the two crucial tips for all of the above-mentioned recreational activities: slow down and never participate while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Asking people to slow down is a bit of a catch all. It articulates that people can reduce their risk of injury by exercising caution and adapting to the weather conditions. Calling for people to avoid drugs and alcohol when engaging in physical or driving activities is common sense – the effects of drug and alcohol intoxication are well known by all Canadians.
Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Will Davidson LLP
If you’ve been injured in a winter accident, the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP may be able to help. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. An experienced member of our team will listen to your story, assess the viability of your case, and explain the next steps in your legal process.