Know your risks, responsibilities before an accident happens
By Tony Poland, Associate Editor
In the second instalment of a two-part series, Windsor personal injury lawyer Gino Paciocco discusses the specific seasonal scenarios of contributory negligence.
Winter brings increased hazards that can result in injuries, so taking steps to avoid mishaps can impact the bottom line in a negligence settlement, Windsor personal injury lawyer Gino Paciocco tells AdvocateDaily.com.
Recognizing your risks and responsibilities before an accident can make a difference in a potential lawsuit, says Paciocco, a founding partner with Paciocco & Mellow.
He says contributory negligence is taken into account when someone fails to protect themselves from harm as a result of an accident caused by somebody else.
"Simply put, if the plaintiff contributed in some way to their injuries, they should be partially responsible for covering their own damages,” says Paciocco, so knowing the hazards and guarding against them can influence the outcome of a lawsuit.
For example, failing to have winter tires in Ontario doesn’t mean you share liability in an accident since they are not mandatory in the province, he says.
“However, if you are driving in Quebec, winter tires are mandatory, and the courts will assign contributory negligence for not having them on your vehicle,” Paciocco says.
Your choice of footwear is also noteworthy when ice and snow are involved, he says. Wearing high heels in a slip and fall can lead to contributory negligence all year, but the amount of negligence assigned increases during the winter.
“The same goes for wearing sandals or flat shoes with no grip,” Paciocco says. “These types of shoes could have contributed to the severity of the fall when a prudent person would have been wearing winter boots or shoes with more grip.”
He says wearing a hood over your head reduces your field of vision as a pedestrian, which might prevent you from seeing approaching cars or patches of ice on the sidewalk.
Not cleaning snow from your car “is the same concept as a coat hood,” he says.
“Not fully clearing your windshield reduces your visibility of other cars on the road,” Paciocco says. “Even when the accident is not your fault, reduced visibility due to snow can lead to contributory negligence.”
He says another thing to consider is the use of a helmet while skiing. If you break your leg skiing without wearing a helmet, it won't impact a claim since it wouldn’t have prevented the leg injury.
”However, if a helmet could have prevented a concussion or another head injury, then the plaintiff can certainly be assigned a high level of contributory negligence,” Paciocco says.
When it comes to a skiing accident, one of the biggest considerations will be whether the plaintiff signed a liability waiver for the ski hill.
“In all situations of injury you should still seek a lawyer’s advice to see what your options are,” he says.
To read part one, click here.