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Teen Safety and Halloween
Murphy Battista
October 19, 2018

Teen Safety and Halloween


For a teenager, the attraction of attending Halloween parties far outweighs staying home watching a scary movie or two. As a responsible, caring parent, it’s vital to have an open conversation with your teenager about managing expectations and their safety without the drama.

Below are some steps to take before your teen heads out the door to their next Halloween engagement.

Have a frank conversation.

Sit down with your teen and ensure both parties are clear about expectations and house rules. Discuss private property, town curfews and most importantly, alcohol regulations. Be upfront and warn them that police will be on patrol and on the lookout for anyone misbehaving.

Host the party for your teen and his peers.

Invite your teen’s friends around instead. This helps ensure they get to enjoy the night and removes the temptation of inflicting harm to other people’s property; avoiding accidents and potential prosecution.

Encourage your teen to avoid posting or texting incriminating evidence.

In the age of social media, no one is immune to making a mistake or three. Steer them away from incriminating themselves online. Halloween is a good time to remind them to keep their online profiles safe from anything suspect that could lead to hurting their reputation.

Recruit them for trick-or-treat duty. 

Teens might be willing to scare up some fun during the night and offer treats to the little ghouls and goblins haunting your doorstep.

Set up camp at home for a scary movie marathon.

 Grab a handful of fun size candy bars and a pile of frightening DVD’s for a Halloween scream-fest.

Encourage light coloured clothing and reflective wear.

 While it might be en vogue to wear all black and hang out in the dark, it can encourage people to question what some teens are actually doing, even if it’s totally innocent.

Review driving safety.

Remind your teen that children are unpredictable and can come out of nowhere, especially while trick-or-treating. It can be hard to see costumed wee ones as they make their way across the neighbourhood roads. Avoid a tragic accident by reminding them to be on the lookout for hazards, always take care when backing up, and drive slowly down residential streets.

Limit the number of friends in a car and have a frank chat about smartphones.

Remove distractions for your teen driver and limit the number of kids allowed to ride along. While it’s a good idea to have a cell phone along for emergencies encourage your teen driver to turn it off (completely) while driving.

Look for local haunted attractions and activities. 

Offer to drive and enjoy a night with your teen and their friends. There are a number of spooky Halloween Activities in Vancouver that can be really fun, check them out here.

At Murphy Battista LLP, teen drinking and parties, as well as parental liability have been widely discussed, you can refer to our teen drinking resources here.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!

*Note: This was originally published in October 2016 and has since been updated to include relevant news and events





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Injuries on School Field Trips - How Can You Avoid Your Child Getting Hurt
Murphy Battista
October 12, 2018

Injuries on School Field Trips – How Can You Avoid Your Child Getting Hurt

field trips

Children love school field trips. They are a chance to get out of the classroom, explore and educate themselves on the world around them, all while enjoying a day with their friends. Often field trips are outdoors and can involve potentially dangerous activities like kayaking, hiking, or swimming, and unfortunately, accidents can happen.  These activities can lead to injuries, and in some tragic cases, death.

It’s important to remember that claims for compensation involving injuries to children can present a variety of challenges. First, it can be difficult to immediately assess the full impact of the injuries on a child. There are often debates between medical experts on whether an injury had a detrimental impact on the normal development of a child. In other words, how the child would have developed had they not been injured. As a result, it may prove arduous to obtain a reasonably conclusive diagnosis of what caused a development delay, and it can be equally challenging to get a prognosis for the extent of recovery from medical professionals. The situation is further complicated by the fact that many children experience emotional, cognitive, or behavioural repercussions in the aftermath of a traumatic accident, which often can present more serious problems for the child than a physical injury. Finally, in serious injury cases, it’s often difficult to project the impact of an injury on a young person’s future, specifically with regard to their educational and career prospects.

On the most recent episode of The Law Show, Joe Murphy, Q.C. discussed the possibility of injuries on children’s school trips and touched on what a parent can do to help their children avoid injury while participating in these activities. In this episode, Joe mentioned several points parents need to keep in mind when their child has the opportunity to participate in a school field trip. You don’t need to be a “helicopter parent” but thinking carefully about your child’s needs and level of ability and asking the right questions about a field trip can help prevent your child getting needlessly injured.

Educational Benefit v. Possible Injury

One of the first things to consider when your child hands you a permission slip to attend a field trip is: What is the educational benefit? Not all field trips are focused on a specific topic in the curriculum, but as a parent, it’s important to weigh the educational benefits versus the possibility of an injury. For example, a trip to the Museum of Anthropology is a great opportunity for your child to explore First Nation culture and not likely a place where they can hurt themselves or others. However, a ski trip to Whistler, while fun and exciting, may have very little educational value, and the nature of the activity means there is a possibility of injury and possibly very serious injury. You don’t want to deprive your child of learning a new and enjoyable activity, but getting reassurance that your child will be properly fitted with ski equipment, that instruction will be provided for novice skiers, and what arrangements are in place for supervision on the ski hill are all things you might want to consider. We are not suggesting that outdoor activities aren’t valuable for children; they are, but factoring in the educational or social development value of a potentially dangerous school trip can be the deciding factor if your child should attend the trip or not.  

Can Your Child Participate?

Understanding your child’s ability to participate in the proposed activity should also be a deciding factor in their attendance on the field trip. For example, if the school field trip is to the beach, your child should know how to swim. Ensuring your child has the necessary skill level to safely participate in the activity is important in ensuring their safety. This is also a good opportunity to talk to your child about field trip safety. Encourage them to stay with the group and close to their chaperones as well as listen to the instructions provided by any activity supervisors.

Are There Enough Adults in Attendance?

Different activities will require different levels of adult supervision. And the supervisors must be qualified and knowledgeable.  If you’re a parent who wouldn’t be comfortable with your child participating in this activity alone, it’s important to have the school confirm what supervision is being provided so you can satisfy yourself that your child will be properly supervised. Entrusting your child’s safety to someone else can be unnerving, and often confirming who and how many adults will be supervising can often put your mind at ease.

Is an Expert Attending?

Joe also discussed a case where a 14-year-old girl who was injured while hiking with her class on a field trip. The teen was following her classmates up a steep incline, and one of the hikers ahead of her dislodged a rock which fell and hit the teen in the head, giving her a significant brain injury. After speaking with several hiking experts, the Murphy Battista lawyer handling the case found that there is a hiking rule about ascents on rocky terrain which is that hikers go up one person at a time, so that if a rock does become dislodged by a hiker, it won’t injure anyone directly below them. Often school trips are supervised by well-meaning teachers, but they may lack the knowledge and training that can prove to be vital in ensuring a child isn’t injured. If your child is participating in a field trip, especially outdoors, don’t hesitate to ask the school if there will be an expert there that will guide the children through the activity.


The personal injury lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP work with parents whose children have suffered serious injuries during accidents on school grounds or during school outings or trips. Our expertise with the proof of complex injury claims together with our thorough understanding of insurance law can help ensure that your child receives the best possible medical treatment and continuing care for the full range of physical, psychological and developmental problems resulting from an accident.

Contact us for a free consultation regarding our experience with the successful resolution of serious accident cases involving children and schools.


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Thrive for Mental Health – A Vancouver Resident Bursary for Leisure Activity

world mental health day

One wonderful train of thought threading its way through our community is the understanding and awareness of mental health; how essential it is to destigmatize and to take care of ourselves when it comes to mental health issues. In homage to this social shift, and in recognition of World Mental Health Day today, I want to share a resource for people who suffer from mental health disorders that I recently discovered.

There is a leisure, health, and wellness bursary offered through Vancouver Coastal Health in affiliation with the Open Door Group for residents of Vancouver. I apologize to anyone outside of Vancouver, this one is rather specific. Getting out and participating in activities is an excellent way to improve your mental health and this bursary offers $150 towards that goal.

The Open Door Group is a non-profit organization that provides employment services to thousands of people a year. They work with individuals in the communities they serve by assisting them in preparing for, finding, and keeping meaningful employment.

I should specify that this bursary is for people who identify as having a mental health issue as their primary diagnosis. I spoke with someone at the Open Door Group who advised that it’s important that this diagnosis be primary, or your request for help may be declined. It’s understood that there is a continuum of perspectives when it comes to mental health, and as long as you and your health practitioner refer you to the program as a means of helping to treat a condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or another diagnosis, you may find yourself eligible. The final decision is, however, at the discretion of the Open Door Group and the recreational therapist that you are working with. The end goal is to create a plan that bests suits everyone.

Having said all this, I don’t want it to discourage you from trying! One of my personal mottos is: it is better to ask and risk getting a no, than not ask and risk missing out on a yes. And the person I spoke with at the Open Door Group agreed with me.

If you live in Vancouver and you’ve been struggling with your mental health and want to have some help with participating in a leisure activity to help alleviate some of your symptoms, and enhance your mental state, I encourage you to apply for this program.

For more information and to apply for this bursary, please visit their website.

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The Fuel Tax Refund and Disability Tax Credit

Disability Tax Credit

It may feel too early to think about doing your taxes, but tax season has a way of sneaking up on you. While most people find doing their taxes about as enjoyable as a root canal, in and among all that paperwork, there may be some extra dollar bills that you can claim.

Two options available to those with a disability are the Disability Tax Credit, which can give you an income tax write-off of up to $8,000 depending on the year (this amount does change year to year) and the Fuel Tax Refund which will reimburse up to $500 a year on the money you spend on fuel in BC for a vehicle you own or lease.

Here at the Personal Injury Resource Centre, we’re happy to help you with the grunt work involved in doing your taxes, so that you can spend your time on more important things like physical therapy and other rehabilitation. We can help you print out forms, and even add up the pile of receipts you’ll have saved for the Fuel Tax Refund.

Disability Tax Credit

If you don’t already have this information or don’t know what it is, we can help with that as well.

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay.

You are eligible for the DTC only if we approve Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate:. A medical practitioner has to fill out and certify that you have a severe and prolonged impairment and must describe its effects.”

You can find more detailed information about the Disability Tax Credit here.

On this site, you’ll be able to confirm if you are eligible, print out the forms that need to be filled out, and follow step-by-step instructions about the program. We are happy to print these forms out and help you fill them out here at the centre as well! We won’t be able to complete the forms in their entirety, as your doctor will need to provide some information, but we’ll get the ball rolling for you.

Fuel Tax Refund

The BC Government describes the fuel tax refund for persons with disabilities as follows:

When you purchase fuel in B.C., you pay fuel tax. If you have a qualifying disability, the fuel tax refund program allows you to request a refund of the provincial motor fuel tax you paid in BC on fuel you used in a vehicle you own or lease.

If you qualify, you’re eligible for a fuel tax refund of up to $500 each calendar year.

Did you know you can also backdate and receive a refund for up to four years prior? If you have those gas receipts, let’s add them up!

To apply for the Fuel Tax Refund, you will need to supply:

Once you register for the fuel tax refund program for persons with disabilities and receive your confirmation letter, you can apply for a refund. You’re eligible to get up to $500 back each calendar year for the provincial motor fuel tax you paid when fuelling your vehicle in BC. The refund amount cannot be transferred to the next calendar year.”

For detailed information and to download the forms for yourself you can visit the Fuel Tax Refund for Persons with Disabilities website here:  If you prefer, you can also submit online by signing up for their website.

Tips for Filling out the Required Forms

My recommendation, when filling out these forms, is to report all your symptoms as they are on your worst day. In my experience, this is the best way to ensure you get the help you actually need. By claiming your best day symptoms, or even your symptoms on an average day, you’re undermining your needs and in the eyes of the government, claiming yourself perfectly capable and therefore not in need of this help.

But the truth is, our worst days are the reason we need this help. If you’re like me, you don’t like to admit how bad it can get (I have a C4/C5 incomplete SCI). I want to be considered strong and capable and perfectly independent. And I can be! But there are also many days when I desperately need help. And so I’ve found that asking for help based on my worst days ensures that I will actually have help on those bad days. It’s been a game changer for me and helped increase my quality of life incredibly.

So! Would you like some help yourself? We can print forms, and I’m happy to add up all the receipts you’ll have collected over the year(s), and complete these forms with you. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 604-558-1954 to set up an appointment!

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Information provided in our blog posts is not intended to be legal advice.

The outcome of every legal proceeding will vary according to the facts and unique circumstances in each individual case. References to successful case results where the lawyers at Murphy Battista LLP have acted for clients are not necessarily a guarantee or indicative of future results.