A disputed private members bill was referred on June 6th, 2019 to the current Standing Committee on regulations and private bills. This proposal was directed to change the Ontario provincial deadline for serving a notice in reference to proceeding with lawsuits regarding personal injury slip-and-falls due to ice and snow. Bill 118 is meant to benefit the defendants in further personal injury claims, giving a shorter notice of time for the plaintiffs to file a notice of action.
Before and After Bill 118
Typically, plaintiffs had two years after an accident to file a lawsuit. Moving forward with Bill 118 plaintiffs only have 10 days to give notice of a slip-and-fall to the defendants, and this will evidently change the Occupiers’ Liability Act.
In favour of the bill, it was noted from Norm Miller, MPP from Parry Sound-Muskoka that “it is difficult to get insurance when doing snow removal, the premium notably increases” this statement was gathered after speaking to a contractor local to the rural east side of Georgian Bay. This stems from insurance companies’ fear of liability for lawsuits up to two years after the incident.
What this means for plaintiffs
Consequently, for plaintiffs, there is not much room to gain expert advice within the time frame. It will be somewhat difficult to find out the business owners’ information in order to carry out the notice within the allotted 10 days given. A plaintiff who has not adequately notified the defendant within the given 10 day time frame could still possibly be able to proceed with their lawsuit only if it is convinced to the judge that there was a “reasonable excuse” and that there is no evident prejudice in their defence. If they are not able to come up with a “reasonable excuse” they will not be able to proceed. This is important for plaintiffs to understand.
It is essential for the plaintiff to recognize that the change from a two year time frame, to a 10-day time frame is exclusively for the plaintiff to file a notice to the defendant and to not be mistaken for filing a statement of claim in court as highlighted by Doug Downey, PC MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.
What to expect from Bill 118
Bill 118 is expected to add the following section to the Occupiers’ Liability Act when passed into law, with no amendments:
“No action shall be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury caused by snow or ice against a person or persons listed in subsection (2) unless, within 10 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim, including the date, time and location of the occurrence, has been served on one or more of the persons listed in subsection (2).”
“Persons” in subsection (2) refers to occupiers or independent contractors employed to a landlord or occupier.
Conclusively, it is now very crucial that plaintiffs understand the time period change in order to successfully notify the defendant, this is ultimately to avoid any further obstructive complications in proceeding with action to a slip-and-fall injury (specifically due to ice and snow).