Did you know that Hamilton is the second most dangerous city in Ontario for pedestrians? When CBC first published this finding in 2013, it was controversial, but few argued the stat.
Having followed the news this last winter, I don’t think it’s getting better. Thus it’s important for pedestrians to take their safety into their own hands.
It’s also important to know that, no matter whose fault the accident was, pedestrians may be eligible for accident benefits.
In Ontario, these are commonly referred to as ‘no fault benefits.’
Depending on your situation, they may include:
- Compensation up to 70% of your gross salary before the accident, up to $400 per week or more under limited circumstances
- This income benefit *may* be paid out for up to two years or more (the duration of the payout will depend on your ability to return to work, retrain, etc. thus it’s never set in stone and must be negotiated)
- If you weren’t employed at the time of the accident, you may be able to receive a non-earner benefit if, after six months, you suffer a complete inability to carry out a normal life
- Up to $50,000.00 in rehab and medical expenses
- Up to $1,000,000.00 in rehab and medical expenses if your injuries are deemed “catastrophic”
- Then there are also attendant care benefits and (although hopefully you won’t need them) death benefits to a surviving spouse
Above and beyond these, there may be additional benefits to receive depending on any supplemental insurance you may have, perhaps through an employer or private programs.
What Do You Do If You’re Hit By A Car?
The next question is, if you’ve been injured, what steps do you need to take to protect your eligibility to these benefits? I wrote a blog about what to do after the accident that goes acts like a checklist.
Although that post is geared to drivers and motor vehicle passengers, the steps that they must take after an accident are consistent with the steps that pedestrians must take. I’ll summarize them here:
- File a police report (you’ll likely do this at the scene if you’re able, if not, in the hospital or shortly thereafter)
- Go see your doctor
- Notify your insurance company of the accident (or in the case of a pedestrian, the drivers’ insurance company – and yes, this may have already happened, but don’t take it for granted) within 7 days
- Call a lawyer to help you complete your application forms for accident benefits (this will incorporate income information and medical documents so you must get this part right – doubly so if you’re self-employed as the process for you will be a bit different)
How To Avoid The Lawyer’s Office All Together
The best thing to happen would be your not needing to walk into my office at all.
While Hamilton’s issues with pedestrian and cyclist safety may be semi-fixable with better urban planning, in the end, it comes down to each individual taking responsibility for their own safety, health and healing.
When I looked up ‘pedestrian safety tips’, while writing this post, I was confronted with all sorts of tips that were not realistic. For example, ‘wear reflective clothing at night when crossing streets.’
Let’s be honest, I would LOVE for my children to wear protective clothing 24-7 (and helmets too for that matter), but I have a feeling that, when my sons are in their teenage years, it’s probably not going to happen. So how about some safety tips that you’ll really use?
- Before stepping out onto a street, make eye contact with drivers to make sure they’ve seen you – this is doubly important at cross walks! Never step out until you’ve made eye contact
- If you’re waiting on a street corner to cross, and a truck is making a right hand turn, technically they should give you, the pedestrian, the right of way. But the reality is that they can’t always see you and sometimes, they’re in such a rush, they don’t think to wait. In this case, your common sense trumps what the law says you *should* be able to do. Step back and let the truck make its turn. It’s safer for you.
- Obviously you should never jaywalk, but some people simply have no fear. So how about this tip: If you really feel the need to jaywalk, never – ever – do a half cross where you end up standing in the middle of the street. I see this all the time in Hamilton and I have even seen pedestrians waiting in the middle of traffic with strollers! This the single most dangerous activity I see on a daily basis in Hamilton.
- If you find yourself having to walk on the shoulder of the road (for example in a rural area or if you’re jogging) always face traffic. The purpose of this is so you can see if a car is veering out of control towards you.
- Stay off the phone and disconnect the music while walking. People get hit when they’re doing everything right and obeying the law – just because you’re on the sidewalk doesn’t mean you can put your attention elsewhere. You need to have all your senses engaged.
- If you can get your children to wear bright coloured reflective clothes, do so. Of course, while bright orange safety vests (and helmets!) may be a bit much to hope for, a reflective arm band on your teen’s black Canada Goose parka or jean jacket may be an acceptable compromise. All we can do is try…