Written By: Patrick Brown and Aidan Vining, Student-at-Law
Far too often we see the terms “cycling accident”, “bike accident”, and “car accident” used in the news. This is a problem. The term “accident” implies that these crashes were not preventable, no one was at fault, and nothing could have been done to prevent them from occurring. In other words, they were freak “accidents” that rarely happen. Unfortunately, the reality is much grimmer.
According to Statistics Canada, an average of 74 Canadians die every year while cycling. Of these deaths, 73% of them are a result of crashes involving a motor vehicle. The Ontario Coroner Review into Cycling Deaths found that 62 percent of the crashes were due to driver error. This statistic is considered low since the cyclist that was killed never had a chance to tell their story. Additionally, approximately 7,500 Canadians are seriously injured every year in cycling crashes.
One of the most dangerous times of day for cyclists are the hours between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. when most drivers are in a rush to get home and are burnt out from a long day of work. This is reflective of the larger problem.
Bicycle deaths and injuries do not happen by “accident” – they happen as a result of:
- Driver inattention
- Driver speed
- Lack of safe infrastructure for cyclists, including bike lanes
- Lack of care, consideration, and respect for cyclists
It is time to stop referring to these tragedies as accidents. They are preventable crashes and collisions that occur due to motor vehicle drivers failing to take the reasonable steps required to ensure the safety of all users of the road.
Below is a case study of one of our bicycle crash cases that demonstrates the preventable and tragic nature of many of these collisions. McLeish Orlando had the privilege of representing Meredith W. after she was seriously injured in a bike crash. We assisted her in obtaining the compensation she deserves for the life-altering injuries she suffered as the result of a truck driver’s failure to drive safely and reasonably.
Meredith was a Transportation Engineer and loving mother of a 7-year-old son when she was tragically run over by a garbage truck while riding her bike.
On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, Meredith was riding her bike to work just before 9:00 a.m. She was cycling in a bike lane and was entering an intersection in the Danforth area of Toronto. As Meredith entered the intersection with the right of way, a garbage truck driver who had been stopped at the intersection turned right across her bike path and ran her over.
Meredith was horribly and seriously injured as a result of the crash. Her leg had to be amputated. The garbage truck driver was charged with careless driving, but the charge was thrown out in provincial court.
Following the crash, Meredith decided to work with one of McLeish Orlando’s principal partners, Patrick Brown, and his team to obtain the compensation she was entitled to. We were happy to help Meredith, and we initiated a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the company he was working for at the time of the collision.
At his examination for discovery, the driver admitted he could not remember using his turn signal. He also admitted he understood that, before turning, you have to ensure no one is in your blind spot. He did not do this.
We brought a motion for unredacted police records and retained forensic engineers to establish the driver was negligent. The forensic engineers concluded that Meredith was visible to the truck driver and that he was negligent in making the right-hand turn. If the truck driver had checked his blind spot, he would have seen Meredith on her bike, and the crash could have been avoided.
In other words, Meredith was not hit by “accident” – she was hit because the truck driver failed to check for cyclists and failed to take reasonable steps while driving. The crash was easily avoidable by the driver.
Following multiple proceedings, we were able to successfully establish liability on the part of the defendants and show that Meredith did absolutely nothing wrong. The defendants were fully responsible for this preventable crash. We were able to obtain a substantial settlement and treatment for Meredith that allowed her to move forward in life and succeed in her career.
In her own words, this is how Meredith describes her experience working with Patrick Brown and McLeish Orlando:
“I was seriously injured by a driver of a garbage truck while I was cycling to work. As with any life-altering injury, I required a great deal of help while recovering, and adjusting to my new life – Patrick and his team were instrumental in getting the ball rolling and helping set up a support team. It was a huge relief knowing the legal aspect of my recovery process was in excellent hands. Being confident in my legal team let me focus on my physical recovery – I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am for that opportunity. Thanks to Patrick and his team, I felt supported and prepared through every step of my legal case, and in the end, I received excellent compensation for my injuries. I would like to thank Patrick for his reassurance, encouragement, and excellent advice while navigating through the legal process.”
How Can McLeish Orlando Help You?
Cycling is a great way to get around, stay healthy, reduce costs, and enjoy the outdoors. Bike crash cases are unfortunate, but people will inevitably find themselves in situations where a driver has put them in danger and caused a collision where there is nothing they could have done to prevent it. The crucial point, however, is that the driver could have and should have prevented it.
When these tragic bike crashes do occur, the personal injury lawyers at McLeish Orlando are here to help. Our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing cyclists in bike crashes.
Our involvement in cycling goes beyond representing clients. Patrick Brown, one of our principal partners, is a former director and founding member of Cycle Toronto. He is also a proud member of Bike Law Canada, an organization dedicated to improving the safety of cycling and representing cyclists. Patrick is also the Past Chair of the Ontario Safety League, one of North America’s leading traffic safety organizations. Patrick also initiated (and represented pro bono a number of Active Transportation Organizations) Ontario Coroners’ Review into Cycling Deaths. Additionally, our office participates in several helmets on kids campaigns throughout the year.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a bike crash, contact our office for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss your next steps.