The Ontario government has passed a bill that will significantly shorten the claim period for injuries suffered in a slip and fall incident due to snow or ice. Bill 118 amends the Occupier’s Liability Act to say that claimants now must provide notice to defendants, such as the occupier of the property and/or the snow removal company responsible for the property, of a claim within 60 days of the incident.
Currently, plaintiffs had up to two years from the date of the incident to provide notice of a claim. This means that in most cases, a plaintiff’s timeline from the date of the injury to bringing a claim has been drastically shortened. Initial drafts of the Bill only allowed for a 10-day notice period, which was amended following input from critics of the Bill, who argued that this was simply not enough time for an injured party to obtain all the necessary information to provide notice of a claim.
Exceptions to the Rule
The Bill does allow exceptions to the rule. Specifically, in cases where the injured person has died as a result of their injuries, the new reduced timeline does not apply. In claims for wrongful death as a result of a slip and fall due to poorly maintained ice and snow, plaintiffs will continue to have a two-year period to provide notice of their claim.
Further, the Bill also allows leeway for a judge to find other causes for exemption from the new time limitation. The Occupier’s Liability Act will include a clause, s. 6.1(6), which states that a judge may waive the limitation period if they find “there is reasonable excuse for the want or the insufficiency of the notice and that the defendant is not prejudiced in its defence”.
Reason for the Change
The reason for the change comes down to the defence of slip and fall claims, and to make it easier for snow removal companies to obtain insurance. The language of many commercial contracts for snow and ice removal contains language that largely shifts any liability for injuries relating slip and falls to the snow removal companies themselves, and away from the owner or occupier of the property. As a result, insurance rates for snow removal companies have increased exponentially over the years. The new, shorter timeline for starting a claim reduces the risk of liability for these companies, and so it is expected their premiums will decrease as well.
What This Means for Injured Claimants
Given the limited timeline now available in most snow and ice-related slip and fall claims, it is extremely important that anyone injured in these types of accidents consults a medical professional and a lawyer as soon as possible. There is now a much shorter period of time available to assess the damages and the potential long-term effects of any injuries, so this process must begin right away. In some cases, the full impact of an injury may not become apparent for some time, so claimants may be at a disadvantage in this regard.
Further, claimants and their lawyers will need to gather the necessary information to identify potential defendants in a claim, inducing any occupiers of the property in question, as well as third-party contractors responsible for snow and ice removal.
The most important steps to take in the immediate aftermath of suffering injuries in a slip or fall on snow and ice are:
- Record all relevant information as soon as possible, including the address of the location where the fall occurred
- Take photos of the area as soon as possible, ideally before a change in weather or any additional snow and ice removal
- See a medical professional for an assessment of injuries
- Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss a potential claim
Skilled Personal Injury Lawyers Serving Eastern Ontario and North Bay
At Tierney Stauffer LLP, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe in fighting for your rights. Slips, trips, and falls often mean a long and expensive road to recovery, and we aim to help those wronged by negligence obtain appropriate compensation. If you’ve suffered in this way and are looking to hold a commercial or residential property owner accountable, we can help.
We recognize that no two accidents or accident victims are the same, which is why we give each claim the personalized attention needed to bring about the best possible resolution. Call us at 1-888-799-8057 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.