What Constitutes a Slip and Fall Case?
Slip and fall is a literal legal term that refers to someone who is hurt or injured on a property that is owned and/or managed by someone else. The injury must result from a slip, trip or fall, which is usually caused by careless maintenance and can be exacerbated by winter conditions. When accidents lead to pain and suffering, then a personal injury case may be brought against the owner, landlord, property manager or a combination of the three.
Slips and Falls are very common in Ontario and every property owner needs to be aware of the standard of care they must provide and how to protect their property against potential legal issues.
Slip & Fall Law – The Basics
If someone slips, trips or falls on public or private property, they can seek damages from the liable party depending on the accident particulars. The key is proving that the area where the injury occurred was unsafe and/or poorly maintained. This could include:
- Insufficient lighting
- Lack of caution or warning signage
- Ice, snow and black ice
- Uneven or cracked surfaces
- Floor or stairway defects
Restaurants, stores, public and private sidewalks and construction zones are common places for people to slip & fall. Of course, accidents can happen anywhere and it’s important for people to be cautious wherever they are, and for both commercial and residential property owners and managers to act prudently and proactively.
Slip and falls victims are required to give notice to a municipality within tens days of injury if it occurred on public property: Pursuant to the municipal act, 2001, section 44(10):
“No action shall be brought for the recovery of damages under subsection 2 unless, within 10 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim and of the injury complained of has been served upon or sent by registered mail to the clerk of the municipality.”
The Winter Culprit
The harsh Ontario winter brings its own set of slip and fall opportunities, and subsequently, liabilities. From black ice to reduced visibility, people are even more susceptible to hurting themselves during the winter months. This means that property owners must be even more diligent in their maintenance routine.
Snow, ice, slippery roads and sidewalks create more scenarios where a person could get hurt. Winter conditions don’t discriminate with respect to age and gender. Anyone can hurt themselves unexpectedly due to a property owner failing to meet the standard of care. If you are the victim of a slip and fall during the winter, be sure to take a photo of the area to prove that the property was unsafe. For example, a photo can prove that snow was not removed, and time stamp the accident which can then be used to confirm weather conditions on that date.
Injuries sustained from slips and falls due to winter conditions cost Canada 2.8 billion annually to treat. This has led Canadian scientists to develop a solution, the WinterLab. The WinterLab allows researchers to simulate harsh winter conditions in an controlled environment to discover how people can avoid injuries like slips and falls.
People should account for winter conditions in order to prevent injuries.
A Property Owner’s Responsibility
The law in Ontario stipulates that all property owners must provide a safe and well maintained space. This law protects the owner and customer, covering everything from icy walkways to electrical work and even more obscure topics like aisle width.
In the event of an slip and fall accident on private property, the property owner (possibly extending to the property manager and/or landlord) could be ordered to compensate the victim for all medical treatments, lost income and pain and suffering.
Contributory negligence can play a role in potentially lowering damages that a victim could receive. If the victim was wearing improper footwear like running shoes in the winter, then it could be deemed that their negligence contributed to the injury. Everyone—property owners, landlords, property managers and visitors—should do their part to create an environment where the potential for a slip or fall is low.
Partner with a Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can help a slip and fall victim understand if they have a case, and guide them through the legal process from filing the claim to negotiating a settlement. By working with the legal team at Mackesy Smye in Hamilton, a victim of a slip and fall accident could find themselves in a strong position to be compensated for any damages suffered due to a property owner who did not meet the standard of care in the circumstances.
Contact us today to discuss your slip and fall case.