This winter, the weather in Toronto, and Ontario in general has been incredibly unpredictable. There have been cold snaps where temperatures drop to unbearable levels only to be met with comfortable spring-like conditions a few days later. Freezing rain plays havoc with the roads and sidewalks creating unpassable ice and slippery surfaces.
Overall, icy sidewalks are an ongoing problem. A recent study showed that Toronto hospitals have an influx of patients during and immediately after a snowstorm. Toronto Public Health recently released a report highlighting some of the problems. Between 2006 and 2015, nearly 30,000 people went to the emergency room after falling on ice or snow, with 2,800 being hospitalised for moderate to serious injuries.
It’s a surprising statistic when one considers that most of these injuries could have been avoided had the occupier of the premises or property bought and used a simple bag of salt from Canadian Tire or Home Depot.
The Ontario Occupiers Liability Act imposes an obligation on property owners to ensure safety considerations are implemented. Ice and snow along sidewalks and driveways entrances are obvious elements that can create dangerous environments for even the most careful person. If a slip and fall accident is in any way attributable to the owner of a premise (or a person in charge of it), the injured person can sue for damages. Damages include such items as pain and suffering, past and present medical, rehabilitation and income losses. Interestingly, even OHIP has a right to recover the money they have spent from the wrongdoer.
In Ontario, slip and fall claims must be filed within two years of the accident. When bringing a case against a municipal, provincial or federal body, notification to the accused must occur within 7 days of the injury. Many lawsuits go nowhere because the defending government body isn’t notified within the appropriate legal time period. The litigation process to take a negligent homeowner, business owner or government body can be quite complicated. It is therefore very important to make sure one hires a very good personal injury lawyer familiar with the laws and remedies which exist here in Ontario.