Winter in Ontario brings countless pleasures, including snowmen, hot chocolate, hockey, skiing, and skating. Unfortunately, it also brings hazardous conditions in the form of icy sidewalks, roads, transit stops, foot paths, driveways, and parking lots. If not properly maintained, icy walking surfaces can lead to serious personal injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, scarring, and damaged tendons and ligaments. These injuries can result in surgery, therapy, lost wages, and personal care needs.
If you slip and fall and suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Areas of compensation include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, loss of income, out-of-pocket expenses, and medical care.
In Ontario we have legislation dealing specifically with icy and snowy premises. The Occupiers’ Liability Act, which applies to most types of properties, states that the owner or occupier of a property is required to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of others. Reasonable steps may include, for example, regularly treating and clearing snow and ice from residential driveways, parking lots, private roads, and private sidewalks and walkways.
Municipal sidewalks and roads are dealt with in the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (in the case of Toronto) and the Municipal Act, 2001 (in the case of other municipalities in the province). These Acts state that a city is only responsible for personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk in the case of “gross negligence”. Therefore, municipalities are held to a lower standard than other property owners when in comes to their winter maintenance obligations.
Importantly, the legislation also sets out notice requirements with respect to personal injury lawsuits resulting from icy conditions. The notice requirements are as follows:
- 60-day notice for slip-and-falls on private property: The Occupiers’ Liability Act states that a person may not bring a lawsuit for personal injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall due to snow or ice unless they give written notice of the claim to the property owner, or an occupier, or its winter maintenance contractor within 60 days of the incident.
- 10-day notice for slip-and-falls on municipal roads and sidewalks: The City of Toronto Act, 2006 and Municipal Act, 2001 have even stricter notice requirements, and state that written notice must be given to the city within 10 days of the incident.
If you do not give proper and timely notice you may lose your right to sue.
It is important that you take the following steps if you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall:
- Seek urgent medical advice.
- Take photographs of the location of your fall as soon as possible to document the condition of the walking surface as it existed at the time of the incident.
- Preserve the footwear you were wearing at the time of the incident.
- Obtain the contact information of any witnesses.
- If the incident occurred on private property, provide written notice to the owner, property manager, or winter maintenance contractor as soon as possible and in any event within 60 days of the incident.
- If the incident occurred on a municipal sidewalk or road, provide written notice to the City as soon as possible and in any event within 10 days of the incident.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
At Beyond Law, our personal injury lawyers are experienced in handling slip-and-fall claims throughout Ontario. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip-and-fall please contact us and we would be pleased to assist you.