March 2012 News
Expert Evaluations & Imaging Tools Proves Successful for Brain Injured Car Accident Victim
By Andrea Potter
It seems a lifetime ago for Rossianne Sheaves when she crossed the intersection at 134 Avenue and 92 Street in Surrey and was hit by a car. The accident happened in November of 2007, but it will always be a lifetime ago, because Rossianne cannot remember the accident or the two weeks prior to it.
At dusk on a dark and rainy night, Rossianne stepped into the crosswalk, crossed an entire lane, and was then hit unexpectedly by a car, sending her head careening into the windshield where she bounced off onto the pavement.
At 18, she was a healthy young girl with her life ahead of her. However, that moment changed her life forever. Her injuries included a cracked skull, amnesia, collapsed lung and a grand mal seizure. The neurological report issued by neurologist, Dr. Donald Cameron, described Rossianne as having suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury. She suffered headaches, fatigue, back pain and permanent loss of smell.
Brain injury cases are always difficult as the injuries are invisible. In this case Klein Lawyers, lawyer Paul Warnett used a unique tool to show where blood pooling, contusions, and brain swelling occurred. These very graphic illustrations produced by Artery Studios are constructed from examining photos, CT scans, MRI’s and neurological medical reports. This data is then transposed into an illustration done by a highly trained medical illustrator. These pictures provide clarity for complicated medical concepts.
According to the Brain Injury Recovery Network over 50% of TBI’s are caused by car accidents.
In this incidence, it wasn’t the brain injury in question, but according to ICBC it was a liability issue. ICBC took a strong stance that Ms. Sheaves was mostly liable for the accident. ICBC argued a van blocked the driver’s view of Rossianne.
Once again, Mr. Warnett turned to the experts to prove this was not the case and in fact it was the driver who was mostly liable. Engineer Kurt Ising of Mea Forensic visited the crash site, examined reports and presented his analysis to provide speed and visibility calculations. It was strongly argued by Mr. Warnett that Ms. Sheaves was highly visible with respect to the lighting available. The average visibility threshold of an alert driver is 14 to 18. According to engineering calculations Ms. Sheaves’ visibility calculation was 26.
Mr. Warnett was successful in proving to ICBC that Rossianne was not mostly at fault and they agreed to pay over $800,000 in damages. “Brain injury cases are very complicated due to the fact that Rossianne looks completely normal if you were to pass her on the street. However, the effects of the brain injury are very real. My job was to make ICBC understand that”, says Warnett. As Rossianne explains, “My life has been on hold for four years. I still feel 18 because I didn’t get to grow up the same as others. Now I am trying to figure out what I can do with my life because I am not the person I was before the accident”.
The Standard Shift: Safer, Cheaper, and Greener – Or Is It?
By Andrea Potter
Over the last 10 years in North America, the demand for a standard-shift car has been on the wane. Now, only about 5.5% of cars sold on this side of the pond are standard. For example, according to Gilles Fortin, Assistant Sales Manager at the Don Docksteader auto dealership in Vancouver, Volvo is only importing one standard model–the C30, a sporty little hatchback–into Canada.
But there is a trend happening, at least in the US, where parents are buying their teenagers standard-shift cars instead of automatics because they think it’s the safer option. It’s a reflection of the great debate currently underway right now about whether driving a standard is the safer, cheaper, and greener option.
For parents of the baby-boomer generation, these things were all true about our standard vehicles of the day. It was safer to drive a standard, because you had more control over speed and braking, and fuel efficiency was better. But Fortin states that the safety features and fuel efficiencies of most automatics these days are the same or better than the standard. On the other hand, a standard-shift car will leave some cost savings in your wallet. The Volvo C30 in manual, for example, sells for $1,500 less than an automatic. As well, manual-shift motors have fewer parts, so maintenance and repairs can be less costly than those on an automatic transmission.
According to Shaun de Jager, CEO & Chief Instructor at RA Driver Training, “When learning to ‘drive stick’, it may seem to drivers that they have little control over their vehicle (jerky starts, rollbacks on hills, etc.). But once they get the technique nailed down, most stick-shift drivers would say they feel they have more control over their vehicle. Standard drivers also generally say that they are more aware of their surroundings, because they have to plan their driving actions in advance. Many of the students whom I’ve taught to drive standard have shared the same sentiment. You can also stop faster in a standard transmission and you have more control over accelerating and decelerating.”
One point our experts will agree on is that, with the technology today, standard-transmission vehicles are probably not greener than an automatic, and fuel consumption is affected by how a person drives the vehicle rather than by what type of vehicle it is. According to de Jagar, “Personally, I will always prefer driving a standard because of the added control over the vehicle and because it does make you more aware of your driving environment. The more automation we add to vehicles, the more complacent drivers become and the more collisions occur.”
If you’re a parent poised to buy a vehicle for your young adult, these insights might help you consider standard-shift cars in a whole new light. Perhaps most compelling is the inherent built-in safety feature. A standard driver needs both hands and has to focus while driving. This can you give a bit more peace of mind when your teenager is behind the wheel–they cannot be texting or socializing too much while they drive!
Distracted Driving and Driverless Cars
Interview with Karen Bowman, Drop It And Drive, by Nancy Baye
Karen Bowman is passionate about ending distracted driving. In 2010 she founded Drop It And Drive (DIAD) to educate and raise awareness on the issue.
We spoke to her as she was preparing her speech for The International Conference on Distracted Driving in Toronto.
Q: Tell us about DIAD
I have long wondered why people don’t realize what they have to lose by the consequences of distracted driving. DIAD raises awareness about these risks. We’re about being pro-active, not waiting until personal tragedy strikes. We go into the schools to instill this in young people; educating them makes a huge difference and inspires them to spread the word.
Q: What do you think about ‘driverless cars’?
Exciting and terrifying. Technology is great, but ultimately it’s not about technology, it’s about how it’s used. Besides, the problem isn’t that our hands are busy while we drive, it’s the ‘inattentional blindness’ caused by our mind being distracted. Drivers need their head in the game.
There’s irrefutable proof that hands-free devices are as dangerous as hand-held devices. Here’s an opportunity for an auto industry leader to step up, get ahead of the curve and meet demand for cutting-edge cars while improving safety. That could change the face of distracted driving.
Q: Can technology increase road safety?
Technology is a double-edged sword, it can only do so much and then the human factor enters. When automatic parallel parking is in progress what happens when a kid darts into the street – will the car stop in time? Will the driver be paying attention or trusting in the technology?
Driverless cars may have safety controls but that won’t remove the need to know how to drive.
There are so many variables on the road, a human can detect and assess these variables. A computerized car may sense a cyclist and calculate its path, but a human will see that cyclist and how he’s distracted with his iPod. Human will be ready to adjust his course, computer won’t. Imagine seeing a driverless car speeding towards you.
Q: What about teens pursuing their licenses in the age of driverless cars?
It’ll be interesting! The best way to learn the basics is on a manual transmission car: that training will keep a driver safe in most situations. Training on driverless cars won’t teach the basics of driving. Driving fundamentals must be respected regardless of the vehicle’s technology: at the end of the day it’s people who drive, not cars.
Q: Final thoughts on your mission to end distracted driving?
I know from daily work at DIAD that it’s not cars that are the problem – it’s people. And common sense can’t be automated.
Class Action Updates – March 2012
Aboriginal Sixties Scoop
The Notice of Civil Claim has been served on the federal government. The government has delivered demand for particulars, which we are in the process of answering. The next step will be appointment of a case manage judge who will set a schedule leading to the certification hearing.
Alberta Child Welfare
Justice Thomas of the Alberta Queen’s Bench has approved the Notice of Certification, which is being published in daily and community papers throughout Alberta. The Notice can also be viewed on our website www.callkleinlawyers.com. We are now in the process of completing the examinations for discovery in preparation for the common issues trial.
AMO Contact Lens Solution
We have a case management conference with Justice Butler of the B.C. Supreme Court at the end of March, to approve the Notice of Certification. We will also be asking for an order requiring AMO to produce further documents and the transcripts from U.S. proceedings.
The certification hearing is now set for the end of May in Toronto before Mr. Justice Perell of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Crocus Investment Fund
Justice Hanssen of Manitoba Queen’s Bench has approved the settlement with Stafford Swain. We are now proceeding with the suit on behalf of shareholders against the Fund’s lawyers, Filmore Riley.
DePuy ASR Hip Implant
The British Columbia claim has been issued and served. This case involves hip implants that were the subject of a Health Canada recall in late 2010.
The Notice of Certification has been approved and is being sent to potential class members.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Notice of Certification will be issued after the Defendants’ appeal has been decided. In the meantime, Justice Groper of the B.C. Supreme Court has set a pre-trial schedule culminating in a common issues trial set for 2013.
Certification of this action was confirmed by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. Notice of Certification will be published in a few months.
Paxil Birth Defects
The certification hearing is set for October 1, 2012 before Mr. Justice Smith of the B.C. Supreme Court.
The certification hearing is set for June 11, 2012 before Mr. Justice Punnett of the B.C. Supreme Court.
We’re working an Ontario firm to prepare a claim for female members of the RCMP who were subjected to gender based discrimination and harassment.
The adjudication judges have advised us that their first set of decisions will be delivered at the end of April.
The defendants have appeal Mr. Justice Bowden’s certification of the lawsuit as a class action. The appeal will be hearing on May 29, 2012.