Claims against the City for Slip and Falls

Claims against the City for Slip and Falls

Slip and falls can result in significant injuries. Everything from soft tissue injuries, to fractures and brain injuries, etc. They occur when there’s not enough traction between the water, ice or snow on the ground and your footwear. 

If you have been injured in a slip and fall on a sidewalk that is owned by the city then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. There are certain steps you need to take if you wish to be successful in a lawsuit against the city for your injuries.

First, you must put the city on notice within 10 days of your intention to bring a claim for your injuries unless you have a strong reason for delaying the notice letter or claim such as in the case of a death or extended hospital stay. Ignorance of the rule is not enough to get around the 10 day rule for notice. After you have put the city on notice within 10 days you have two years from the date of the accident to start the lawsuit. This same rule applies to slip and falls on private property as well.

Keep in mind, unlike bringing a claim against a private property owner such as a grocery store or homeowner, in order to be successful in your claim against a city for a slip and fall you must be successful in showing that the city exhibited GROSS negligence in its maintenance of the sidewalk.

If you are successful in putting the defendant on notice within 10 days and in showing that the city was grossly negligent in its maintenance of the sidewalk, then you may be compensated under a number of different categories:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Income Loss
  • Housekeeping
  • Future health care expenses
  • Out of pocket expenses

Some helpful tips after a slip and fall:

  • Get medical attention. This way you can document your injuries to show to the insurance company or the city that you have been injured. This will result in some medical investigations that will allow for a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment recommendations
  • Collect evidence. If you are able, take photos of the accident scene. Make note of whether there was any treatment of the ice or snow in the area where you fell (such as salt or sand). Collect any witness information if any. 
  • Continue to document any losses you may have suffered including loss of income or out of pocket expenses for assistive devices or physiotherapy or massage receipts.

It is best to hire a lawyer in order to put the City on notice but it is not absolutely necessary. You can find out more information about claims against the city by visiting: https://ottawa.ca/en/3-1-1/report-or-request/claims-city#claims-city . There you will find a step-by-step guide on how to bring a claim. Depending on the extent of your losses you may be able to bring a claim for personal injuries against the city in small claims court (if you believe the value of your claim is $30,000.00 or less). Most claimants in small claims court do not have lawyers.