- What happens if someone slips, trips, or falls on public property in Canada?
- What happens if you slip and fall or suffer an injury on public property in Canada?
- What is the penalty for criminal negligence in Canada?
- What to do after a slip and fall accident on private or public property in Canada
- You do not owe a duty of care to criminals, trespassers, and persons who willingly assume risk
- How to negotiate a slip and fall settlement in Canada?
Under federal and provincial law, Canadian citizens who suffer a slip, trip, or fall-related injury are entitled to compensation if the accident was a consequence of the occupier or owner’s actions, inactions, or negligence. In public spaces, the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act allows victims to sue the government agency. You may sue the occupier or property owner if an accident happens on private land.
Quick take: What happens if a slip and fall accident happens in Canada?
- Property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care to employees and anyone who may legally enter the premises.
- You do not owe criminals a duty of care in Canada.
- You owe a limited duty of care to trespassers (do not intentionally create traps on your property).
- If a slip and fall resulting in death was caused by intentional negligence, the maximum penalty is life in prison.
- The burden of proof in a negligence claim is on the claimant.
- The statute of limitations period for slip and fall accidents in most provinces is two years.
- If you slip and fall on public property, provincial laws determine the statute of limitations period.
- After a slip and fall, the victim may sue the property owner, occupier, or state agency.
- In Canada, you cannot sue for force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances/acts of God).
What happens if someone slips, trips, or falls on public property in Canada?
Under Canadian law, municipalities have a legal obligation to ensure that all public sidewalks, roadways, and parking lots are reasonably safe for the public. Furthermore, when you enter a public facility, the department owes you a duty of care. Consequently, if you suffer injury through no fault of your own while in a public space, you may sue the public institution for damages, including:
- Lost wages and future income
- Physical pain
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship or support.
- Emotional suffering
For example, Ontario’s Municipality Act section 44 (1) and (2) state that, quote:
“The municipality that has jurisdiction over a highway or bridge shall keep it in a state of repair that is reasonable in the circumstances, including the character and location of the highway or bridge.”
Section 2 states:
“A municipality that defaults in complying with subsection (1) is, subject to the Negligence Act, liable for all damages any person sustains because of the default.”
The Crown Liability act reads:
“The Crown is liable for the damages for which, if it were a person, it would be liable (a) in the Province of Quebec, in respect of (i) the damage caused by the fault of a servant of the Crown, or (ii) the damage resulting from the act of a thing in the custody of or owned by the Crown or by the fault of the Crown as custodian or owner; and (b) in any other province, in respect of (i) a tort committed by a servant of the Crown, or (ii) a breach of duty attaching to the ownership, occupation, possession or control of property.”
Provincial negligence acts deal with occupier and occupier duties of care. In general, you must remember that in a negligence claim, the claimant must prove the following elements.
- The property owner, occupier, or government agency owed the claimant a duty of care.
- There was a failure to exercise reasonable care.
- The failure resulted in physical injury/”cause in fact” (the claimant suffered injury directly or indirectly by the actions or negligence of another.
- There was physical harm in the form of actual damages (see above)
- Proximate cause (harm is within the scope of liability).
Remember, the burden of proof is on the claimant.
What happens if you slip and fall or suffer an injury on public property in Canada?
It depends on provincial laws. Find your province’s slip and fall laws in the links below:
List of Provincial and Territorial Slip and Fall Laws
What to remember if you are injured on public property in Canada:
- You must file a written notice to the minister in charge within the set time. For example, in British Columbia, you have 21 days to file a notice. In Ontario, you must submit a personal injury claim within 10 days after the accident. You must complete forms and requirements, so we recommend consulting with an attorney or clerk of court in the area where the slip and fall accident occurred.
- The municipality/the government is not liable for damages caused by extreme weather or the claimant’s negligent actions.
- Property owners, occupiers, and government institutions owe a duty of care to anyone who enters the premises legally.
- Property owners do not owe a duty of care to anyone who willingly assumes a risk.
- Your province’s Occupier Liability Act contains the duties of occupiers and property owners.
- You must institute your claim directly against the public institution that owes you a duty of care.
- You may file a claim in the small claims court or the court of the Queen’s Bench. Provincial laws determine the maximum you may sue for in small claims court.
- Government departments in Canada have a legal obligation to give you the information you need (contact a clerk of court in the area).
Can you sue for falling on a sidewalk in Canada?
Yes. But you must prove that the municipality responsible for the area acted negligently.
To sue a municipality in Canada after a slip and fall accident, you must prove the following:
- The sidewalk or government property was in an unsafe condition.
- The municipality or agency in charge failed to make reasonable efforts to keep the property or space reasonably safe.
- You suffered an injury because of the municipality’s negligence, failure, actions, or inactions.
The court will consider the municipality’s maintenance policy if you choose litigation. The questions the court may ask include, are the policies in place reasonable? Does the municipality maintain, inspect, and repair the property? Did the claimant’s actions contribute to the slip and fall accident?
Remember, if the accident resulted from your actions, the municipality is not liable for your injuries.
How to make a slip and fall claim against a city in Canada
Are you on the property legally? Provincial laws state that occupiers and property owners owe a limited duty of care to persons not legally on the property. What do I mean?
As an example, New Brunswick Occupier Liability Act states that, quote:
“An occupier of forest land or any land referred to in subsection 5(1) or section 6 owes no duty of care towards a person who is a trespasser driving or riding on or in a motor vehicle or who is being towed by a motor vehicle if the motor vehicle has been used in the commission of an offense under this Act on that land, except the duty not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to a person or property and not to act with reckless disregard of the presence of a person or property.”
That means if a property owner or occupier acts with reckless disregard for human safety or if you deliberately cause harm to another, you may face both civil and criminal charges.
That raises the question,
What constitutes criminal negligence in Canada, and how is it related to slip and fall accidents?
You must remember that the difference between criminal and civil negligence is that in civil negligence cases, the negligence is unintentional. On the other hand, you are guilty of criminal negligence if you act intentionally to injure someone.
For example, if you install a tripping hazard or trap on your property, and someone suffers injury or death. The penalty could be a fine and/or imprisonment, depending on injuries suffered and your actions.
The Canadian criminal code defines criminal negligence as, quote:
“Everyone is criminally negligent who(a) in doing anything, or(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.”
What if a slip and fall victim dies?
Under the Canadian Criminal Code, if a victim dies because of criminal negligence, the defendant is guilty of an indictable offense punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.
What is the penalty for criminal negligence in Canada?
- Slip and fall involving criminal negligence. Indictable offense if the victim dies, punishable by a maximum sentence of life.
- Criminal negligence involving bodily harm. Hybrid offense (indictable/summary offense), punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Remember, Canada criminal code section 224, “death that might have been prevented” states that, quote:
“Where a person, by an act or omission, does anything that results in the death of a human being, he causes the death of that human being notwithstanding that death from that cause might have been prevented by resorting to proper means.”
That means criminal negligence may result in murder charges.
What to do after a slip and fall accident on private or public property in Canada
If you suffer an injury on public or private property, legal experts recommend that you do the following:
- If capable, investigate the scene. Are there signs warning you about the hazard? Are you in a restricted area? Is there evidence of negligence? Can you determine the cause?
- Gather evidence. You will need pictures of the slip and fall hazard, witness testimonies, surveillance footage, and videos of what happened after the accident.
- Report the fall to the occupier or property owner.
- Do not admit fault at the scene or use any words that the other party may use in their defense.
- Seek medical assistance if necessary and keep records of all expenses related to the accident, including out-of-pocket payments.
- Contact your insurer if you have personal injury cover.
- Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you do not act within the set time, you lose your right to sue. Therefore, we recommend consulting with an attorney immediately.
- Serve notice to the occupier or property owner.
What occupiers and property owners in Canada should do after a slip and fall accident?
If someone suffers injury on your property, you could be liable for damages. Consequently, legal experts recommend that you do the following:
- Offer reasonable assistance to the victim. If the victim requests it or it is apparent that immediate care is necessary, transport the victim to a physician.
- Do not admit fault. We also recommend training staff and employees to never admit fault.
- Gather evidence including warnings, pictures of the scene, surveillance footage, images of the injuries, and so on.
- Do not be too quick to pay. If you have evidence that the fall was not a consequence of your actions or an employee’s actions, you may use it in your defense. Also, you may have grounds to sue the slip and fall victim if he causes property damage.
You do not owe a duty of care to criminals, trespassers, and persons who willingly assume risk
As mentioned, occupiers and property owners owe a duty of care to all persons who enter their premises legally. What if someone breaks in or enters a restricted area and gets injured?
How old is the person? Is the person mentally capable of understanding the risk?
These are some questions the court may consider.
If the trespasser is a child and he gets injured on your property, you could be liable for his injuries.
Under Canada’s Attractive Nuisance doctrine:
(1) If a minor comes on your property, you have a special responsibility to prevent any harm that may befall the child.
(2) The court may hold you responsible for any injuries the child suffers.
(3) The law assumes that a child is incapable of fully comprehending the danger he may face.
Do you have an attractive nuisance on your property?
“Attractive nuisance” refers to anything that may attract a child to your property. It could be a treehouse, trampoline, swimming pool, and so on.
To protect yourself from liability when dealing with child trespassers you should:
- Offer reasonable assistance to any child who suffers injury on your property.
- Install signs and fence your property.
- If you find kids on your property, ask them to leave or talk to their parents.
Willing assumption of risk
Under Canadian law, if someone willingly assumes a risk, you do not owe that person a duty of care. For example, if you own a skating rink, visitors may assume the risk of suffering a slip and fall accident through writing, words, or actions.
If the person gets injured, the court will not hold you liable.
How to negotiate a slip and fall settlement in Canada?
To avoid going to court after a slip and fall accident, the parties may negotiate a settlement. To that end, you should:
- Consult with a personal injury lawyer.
- Estimate your claim. Did you suffer property damage? How much did medical care cost? How did the slip and fall affect your mental health and relationships? A lawyer will help you come up with a reasonable claim.
- Back up your claim with solid evidence.
- File a claim before the limitations period expires (two years in most provinces).
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