As we move further into the colder months, the accumulation of ice and snow is inevitable but slips, trips and falls are not, provided proper care is taken to ensure sidewalks, driveways and stairs are maintained.
In Ontario, every property owner and tenant has a positive obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure people coming onto their property are safe and are not injured in slips, trips and falls. These steps include:
- Clearing your property of ice and snow promptly after a snowfall;
- Ensuring your driveway and walkway is adequately lit;
- Repairing loose handrails on your porch;
- Removing any slippery wet leaves that are leftover from the fall cleanup;
- Having non-slip mats in place to cover areas of your flooring that may be wet and slippery.
While these steps may not always prevent slips, trips and falls from occurring, it will demonstrate to the court that you have taken reasonable measures to keep your property free from hazards.
In the event a person is injured on your property, you should contact your home insurer immediately and advise of a potential claim. Your home insurer will assign an adjuster to investigate the accident and, provided you are not in breach of your policy, will respond to any lawsuit up to your third party bodily injury limits contained in the policy.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to take photographs of the area of your fall immediately. All too often, the condition of the property changes quickly, and any evidence of disrepair can be gone by the time you return to take photos.
The limitation period for commencing an action for injuries arising out of a slip and fall is two years from the date of your fall. However, if you are injured on municipal property, keep in mind you must advise the municipality of your injuries and your intention to sue it within ten days of the date of your fall or you will be barred from bringing an action.
Stacey Stevens is a partner and a personal injury lawyer at Thomson Rogers. Her practice is entirely devoted to helping people who have sustained serious personal injuries from car, motorcycle, boating accidents and slip and falls. Stacey’s expertise has been sought out in interviews on Canada AM, the Business News Network and CFRB Radio, and in newspapers and magazines including the Lawyer’s Weekly, Law Times, The Litigator and The Globe and Mail. Stacey can be reached at 416-868-3186 or by EMAIL.