Under the law, occupiers owe visitors to their property a duty of care while they’re on their property, both in terms of the condition of the premises, or the activity carried out on the premises. Occupiers include anyone who has ownership, occupation, possession, or control of a property. There must be an act of negligence or omission on the part of the occupier of the property to cause the injury.
Notify Municipality Within 10 Days of Injury
The Ontario Municipal Act states that if you are injured on city or municipal property, you must put them on notice within 10 days of your injury. Injury that occurs on private property is subject to the standard two-year limitation period. Failure to do so, with no reasonable excuse, can lead to your action being summarily dismissed. This requirement ensures that the city will have the opportunity to preserve and all evidence involving the incident.
Different Standard of Care
Where an injury occurs as a result of snow or ice on their property, cities and municipalities are subject to a different standard of care than are owners of private property. Owners of private property are subject to the standard of reasonableness or what the reasonable owner would do. Cities and municipalities are subject the standard of ‘gross negligence’, as stated in the Municipal Act and the Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways. Standard practice in these cases is for plaintiff’s counsel to examine a city or municipality representative to ensure that slip and fall prevention procedures and protocols were followed and that the minimum standards were met. The standards are often set so low that it is likely that minimum standards are met.
State of Non-Repair
In cases not involving snow or ice, the Municipal Act states that a municipality is liable if it leaves a road or public sidewalk in a state of non-repair. ‘Non-repair’ refers to conditions that are unreasonably dangerous. Once the plaintiff establishes a condition of non-repair, the municipality must prove that it had a reasonable inspection and repair system in place to avoid liability. In cases where the plaintiff should have taken care and noticed the condition of non-repair, the court may find the plaintiff to be contributory negligent and reduce the damages awarded.
Case law states that it is not unreasonable for municipalities to take into account financial considerations in addition to physical considerations. For example, municipalities will not be found liable for hazards on roads or sidewalks less than ¾ of an inch high. With respect to icy sidewalks, the law will take into account severe weather storms when determining a municipality’s liability, in addition to a number of other considerations including: pedestrian traffic, length of time dangerous conditions existed, reasonableness of the expectation that city would rectify problem. A sheet of ice on a sidewalk for more than two days is an example of gross negligence. Of note: under the Health Insurance Act, OHIP is entitled to recover the costs for all medical and health services a person receives as a result of injuries sustained due to the negligence, wrongful act or omission of another person. This cost is considered when settlement numbers are discussed and agreed upon. Damages recovered in slip and fall cases are not subject to the $30,000 deductible present in car accidents.
Slip and Fall injury accidents happen on Toronto city property everyday. Many of these accidents are caused by roads and sidewalks that have been left in a state of non repair. If you have been injured on city property, call the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Kahler Law Firm as soon as possible. Strict time limits govern your right to file a claim. The Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm has extensive experience in this highly specialized area of personal injury law. We offer knowledgeable advice, free consultations and “no win no fee” injury claim representation.