Winter is coming, and for Ontario residents, this means that we’re about to be hit with months of snowy and icy conditions. While slip and fall accidents can occur year-round, the wintery conditions bring an increase in slip and fall injuries due to slippery ice and snow-covered surfaces. In many cases, slip and fall injuries are minor (or just embarrassing), but some of these accidents can result in major physical injury or harm.
This post sets out the basic process for bringing a claim in Ontario for personal injury damages caused by slip and fall accidents. It is important to note, however, that circumstances vary in each case. You should, therefore, always contact a lawyer to discuss what options may be available to you.
How do I know if I have a valid claim?
If you were injured as a result of slipping and falling on an icy surface, you may have a claim for damages to compensate you for your injury.
Property occupiers – including property owners and tenants – have a legal obligation to take reasonable care of their property. They must maintain it in a safe condition to prevent visitors from sustaining injuries. This includes an obligation to remove snow and ice from sidewalks, driveways, laneways, and walkways—even on the most blustery winter days! Property occupiers can be held liable for injuries caused by their failure to remove snow and ice from their property within a reasonable amount of time.
Who is at fault for my slip and fall injuries?
If you are injured from a slip and fall on snow or ice, Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act allows you to bring a claim against (1) the occupier of the property; and (2) any independent contractor employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice.
The Act defines “occupier” as the person in physical possession of the property or the person responsible for, and has control over, the property’s condition, the activities on the property, and the people allowed to enter the property. This means that the “occupier” often includes the owner of the property and/or the tenant.
In addition to the “occupier,” you may also bring a claim against any contractor the occupier employed to remove snow or ice from the property when you sustained your injury.
How long do I have to bring a claim for a slip and fall injury?
If your accident occurred on private property, you must give notice of your intent to bring a claim within 60 days.
Section 6.1 of Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act gives you 60 days from the date of your accident to provide the negligent parties with written notice of your intent to bring a claim for damages. For slip and fall accidents that occur on private property, the negligent parties may include: (1) the occupier; and (2) an independent contractor employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice.
This 60-day notice period is a recent amendment to the Act. Before this amendment came into effect in January 2020, people injured by slipping and falling on snow or ice had two years to notify negligent parties of their intent to bring a claim. This shorter notice period lessens the insurance liability of snow removal companies. It also prevents future slip and fall injuries because the timely notice allows property occupiers to take immediate steps to remove any snow or ice that creates unsafe conditions.
Given the shortened notice period under the amended Act, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so you can ensure your notice of intent to bring a claim is provided within the 60-day period.
If your accident occurred on public property, you must notify the city of your intent to bring a claim within 10 days.
If you injure yourself by a slip and fall that occurs on public property, the notice period is even shorter than the notice period for injuries that occur on private property. For accidents on public property, you must notify the city of your intent to bring a personal injury claim within 10 days of the slip and fall accident.
How do I give notice of my intent to bring a claim for personal injury?
Before you notify the negligent parties of your intent to bring a slip and fall claim, you should speak to a lawyer, so you fully understand your rights and the process of bringing the claim.
Generally speaking, the process of notifying the negligent parties includes (1) identifying the negligent parties; (2) writing a letter to notify the negligent parties of your intent to bring a claim; and (3) serving the written notice on the negligent parties — this can be done by regular mail or by using a process server.
What information do I need to have to bring a claim?
When bringing a claim for a slip and fall on snow or ice, you must include the accident’s date, time, and location. It is essential to be as specific and detailed as possible — include the address of the location, a brief description, and any photographs that you took. You must also include a sentence indicating your intent to bring a claim against the negligent party for damages for personal injury resulting from the slip and fall.
Contact Tierney Stauffer LLP in Ottawa, North Bay, and Eastern Ontario for Advice After a Slip and Fall
If you are unsure whether you have a valid slip and fall claim, contact Tierney Stauffer LLP in Ottawa, Cornwall, Arnprior, Kingston, and North Bay. Our experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers can advise you of your rights and help you navigate the process of bringing your personal injury claim. Contact us online or at 1-888-799-8057 to book a consultation.