Happy New Year!
There is always lots of anticipation as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Hope for a prosperous and healthy new year is at the top of most people’s New Year’s wish list. As we say good bye to 2016 and welcome 2017, here are 21 tips that will help you and your family stay safe both physically and financially for the next 12 months.
Tips for a Safe and Prosperous Year:
- Review your auto insurance products. You want to have the right kind of auto insurance and the right amount of auto insurance. Look at your auto insurance to make sure you have the highest liability policy you can afford. Check to see what optional coverage you have. Have you upgraded your accident benefits to ensure you are adequately covered in the event of a catastrophic injury? Don’t wait until you have an accident to find out you don’t have proper coverage.
- Check your home and vacation properties for adequate smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Start the year knowing that you and your family will be alerted to any fire emergencies in your home by checking for the existence, expiry date and battery life of your alarms. The peace of mind is worth this very small investment.
- Evaluate your disability insurance policy. This is expensive insurance but it is a lifesaver if you need it. If you have a policy, have your needs changed since you purchased it? Had a baby? Bought a house? Make sure you have the coverage necessary to meet your basic needs in the event that you become disabled through injury or illness.
- Take care of those minor repairs around your home and business that create tripping hazards. Every single week the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth meet with people like you who have been injured on steps, ledges or cracks that could have been easily repaired. If you occupy a property, you have to keep it free of hazards or face a potential claim for damages if someone is hurt.
- Increase the nighttime lighting around your home and business. A well-lit property is less likely to result in injuries from unseen hazards. Lighting is also a major deterrent for intruders. Having your property illuminated also seems more welcoming to your guests or customers.
- Read your homeowner’s liability policy, commercial liability policy and / or tenant’s insurance policy to make sure you are adequately protected. Among other things, these policies cover you if someone is hurt on your property. If someone is hurt and you do not have enough insurance, the injured person’s lawyer could claim against your assets. Think about the number of people who visit your property and what hazards exist. What is the worst thing that could happen? Would you have insurance to cover that disaster?
- Keep a list of all of the maintenance work you do on your property. Have a binder that records when you inspected your property, what upgrades you did, what service contracts you have, how often you shoveled or salted your walk way. If someone is injured on your property, you don’t have to show that you were perfect, only that your maintenance was reasonable. A log will help you prove that you were reasonable.
- Choose your footwear wisely. Almost all of the serious slip and fall injury cases Auger Hollingsworth handles involving icy parking lots also involve pedestrians in running shoes, or worse, flat soled dress shoes. Want to avoid the slip and fall in the first place? Wear winter boots. It’s not a guarantee but it sure improves your odds.
- If you have a car collision, or a bike collision, or a pedestrian collision, call the police if you are even slightly injured. The best way to ensure that you will get the correct info from the other driver and that the other driver won’t change his or her story after-the-fact. The auto insurance will be easier to deal with if you report the accident too.
- Leave more space than you think you need between you and the driver ahead of you. You have no idea what’s going on in that car in front of you. Is the driver distracted? Is it a new driver? If the driver ahead of you stops suddenly and you are caught off guard, you may be at fault for the accident. Plus, even if you stop in time, if you are very close to the car ahead of you the driver behind you could knock you into the car ahead. The more impacts you suffer in a collision, the more likely you are to be injured.
- If you are even slightly injured after a slip and fall or an auto collision– seek medical attention. At Auger Hollingsworth we regularly fight with insurance companies for clients who waited weeks to see the doctor after an injury because they assumed it was just a strain or they assumed they would get better quickly. They didn’t want to “bother” their doctor. It is much harder to prove that an injury was caused by a particular event if you wait to seek medical advice.
- Keep proper snow removal tools in your car. In almost every collision scenario the personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth encounter, one driver did not see the other driver in time. Stay safe by ensuring maximum visibility. Use a broom or a brush to wipe all of your windows, mirrors, headlights, break lights and hood.
- Be aware of short timelines if you are hurt. If you are hurt on government property there can be outrageously short timelines to give them notice of an injury. Sometimes, as short as 10 days. If you are hurt, even if you don’t know if you want to pursue a claim, let the City/ town/province know about the incident within 10 days. Need help? The personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth can help you give proper legal notice.
- Wear a helmet while biking, skating, skiing and skateboarding. It doesn’t get much more important than your head. Wearing a properly fitting helmet when engaging in sports with a fall or concussion risk just makes sense.
- The left-turning vehicle is almost always at fault. I repeat: The left turning vehicle is almost always at fault. Turning left is a huge responsibility. Even if you believe it should be your turn, the oncoming car should stop at the yellow light or you are “positive” you have enough time to turn left, waiting to be absolutely certain is the right move. The t-bone collisions that happen when a left-hand turn goes badly are almost always serious.
- Apply grit to your walkway, sidewalk, driveway and parking lot. In Ontario in the winter, a lack of salt or sand will almost always result in a slippery surface. Even if you clear to the pavement, the black ice can wreek its havoc. Do yourself, your guests and your letter carrier a favour and apply an anti-slip grit after clearing your surfaces.
- Use reflectors at night when walking or jogging. Most of us wear dark clothing when exercising at night– dark leggings, dark shoes and maybe a hat. The simple addition of reflectors and a night light can make the difference between being visible and safe and a terrible tragedy. There are great reflecting dog leashes available too.
- It’s okay to help. In Ontario, there is the Good Samaritan Act that states that if you voluntarily provide emergency first aid at the scene of an accident, you cannot be liable for damages arising from that first aid unless you were “grossly negligent”.
- Have a good look at the play structure your kids use. Have your kids avoid playgrounds without proper cushioning underneath. Wood chips in particular thin over time. Let the city or the school in charge know if the cushion is wearing out. Check too for rusty screw heads that have lost their protective cover, latches that don’t fasten properly and other potential hazards. Every single year the injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth make claims on behalf of children who have suffered broken bones and concussions as a result of playgrounds in a state of disrepair.
- Double check that your doggie is covered. If you have a dog, ensure that your homeowner’s insurance or tenant’s insurance covers injuries caused by your pet. In Ontario, a dog owner is responsible for injuries caused by their dog, not only as a result of biting but also as a result of an “attack”. Attack has been interpreted broadly. While most dog owner cases are relatively small dollar cases, there can be very significant exposure in the most horrific dog bite cases that make the headlines.
- In the event of an injury caused by someone else, take advantage of Auger Hollingsworth’s free consultation. We will speak with you over the phone with no obligation to see if you have a case. If you may have a case, we will meet with you in person, for free, to provide you with info and an assessment of what we can do for you. We never get paid until you do.
Have questions? Want to speak with one of Auger Hollingsworth’s personal injury lawyers and paralegals? Call us today: 613 233-4529. Or email us: [email protected].