Property Owner Obligations
Property owners in Ontario have an obligation to keep their properties safe by making sure they are clear of any slipping or tripping hazards. In the winter, there is a high chance of slip and fall accidents due to snow and ice accumulation. This can happen outside of someone house, a store or public facilities and in parking lots or on a sidewalk. Slip and falls can also occur indoors and can result from uneven carpets, damaged or wet floors or staircases with poor lighting.
Homeowners and Slip and Fall Liabilities
In the context of homeowners, they must keep the outside of their properties cleared of snow and ice so as to avoid potential slip and fall accidents on their properties. If they fail to keep their properties clear they may be faced with a personal injury lawsuit down the road. The same idea applies to grocery store owners and customers who enter their stores. They have a duty to keep the store safe from all hazards, including slip/trip and falls.
There are many potential situations where a property owner is negligent, which could potentially lead to an injury and eventual slip and fall accident lawsuit.
- Not cleaning up a spill in a timely manner resulting in slip and fall accidents.
- Not placing salt, sand or grit on snow and ice or failing to remove snow and ice on the outside of a property.
- Not picking up debris in a timely manner resulting in a slip and fall.
- Uneven walking surfaces on a sidewalk that results in a trip and fall
- Stairways that are not up to the code by, for example, not having a handrail.
The Best Course of Action for Slip and Fall Accidents
If you injured in a slip and fall accident please consider the following:
- Make note of exactly where you fell. If possible, take pictures of this area with your cell phone. If there are witnesses try to get their names and contact information. They may be able to comment on the conditions of the area where you fell later on during litigation. They may also comment on the severity of your fall. Make note of your injuries and how you’re feeling immediately after the accident.
- Keep your footwear that you were wearing at the time of the accident. Take pictures of them as well, especially the sole of your footwear. You want to preserve what they looked like at the time of the accident. Ideally, do not wear them anymore after your fall so that they are completely preserved.
- Ask for a copy of any security camera footage if available. There is a higher chance of footage being out there if your slip and fall accident happened on public property such as outside a grocery store.
- Get into treatment as soon as possible. It will help in your recovery. It will also help your case as you will be documenting your injuries for the insurance company. You want to document your injuries with the medical professionals periodically in hopes of getting a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment recommendations. The insurance company also wants to see how your condition is progressing or regressing.
- Please put the property owner on notice. Write them a letter or email. The letter or email should state where the accident happened, when it happened (including the time) and a general idea of your injuries. It’s important to put the defendant on notice right away. The day you put the property owner on notice is the day pre-judgment interest starts to accrue. This will add value to your claim. Also, keep in mind, if you slip and fall on a city sidewalk you have 10 days from the date of the fall to put the city on notice. If you fail to put the city on notice your claim will be an uphill battle and you may be faced with a motion for summary judgment down the road. To be safe, put the City on notice within 10 days. If you are unsure of whether you fell on City property put them on notice anyway. If it turns out you did not fall on city property then you can close your claim with them later on and pursue to correct property owner.
- Keep all your receipts for out of pocket expenses that you incur as a result of your fall. You can claim this in your lawsuit so that you are reimbursed. Examples of out of pocket expenses include prescription expenses, ambulance bills, medical devices, etc.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, then please keep in mind that you have two years from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit against the property owner. If you intend on hiring a personal injury lawyer to manage your case then you should consider consulting with one as soon as possible so you can explore your options in further detail. One option may be to settle with the insurance company before litigation even begins. Often times insurers want to settle slip and fall accident cases prior to litigation in order to save on litigation costs and time.