Nova Scotia Slip and Fall Laws

What should you do if somebody hurts themselves on your property in Nova Scotia?

Under provincial laws, you may be liable to pay damages to anyone who gets injured on your property on the condition that the victim was on the property legally. You do not owe a duty of care to criminals.

Quick Take:

  • You have two years to file a claim after a slip and fall accident in Nova Scotia.
  • You owe a limited duty of care to trespassing children and non-criminal adult trespassers.
  • The maximum amount you may sue for in small claims court is $25,000.
  • If your claim is worth more than $25,000, you must file it at the court of Queen’s bench (link to courts)
  • Install surveillance equipment to make it easier to establish fault.
  • Do not admit fault at the scene of a slip and fall accident.


 Nova Scotia occupier liability act explained; who is liable for a slip and fall in Nova Scotia?

Under Nova Scotia occupiers’ liability act section 4 (1), an occupier, referring to the property owner, lessee, or renter -owe a duty of care to anyone who enters the premises. The section reads:

An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that each person entering on the premises and the property brought on the premises by that person are reasonably safe while on the premises.”

What that means is:

  • You have a legal obligation to ensure that the condition of your property is reasonably safe for visitors.
  • Activities on the properties should not endanger visitors.
  • The conduct of third parties on your property must not endanger visitors.

Failure to ensure the requirements above may result in a civil lawsuit or criminal negligence charges against the occupier.

What must the victim prove in a slip and fall accident in Nova Scotia?

When determining liability, provincial laws require the claimant to prove the following elements:

  • The occupier knew or should have known of a hazard on the premises.
  • The victim entered the premises legally (you do not owe a duty of care to criminals).
  • Your efforts to warn visitors or the victim of potential danger.
  • The victim’s ability to appreciate the danger.
  • Does the occupier have an obligation to provide protection?

What if the victim willingly accepts the risk?

If you warn someone of danger and the person willingly accepts the risk in writing, through actions or words. You do not owe that person a duty of care. Consequently, if the individual gets injured, you are not liable to pay damages.

Section 5, “willing assumption of risk,” reads:

“The duty of care created by subsection 4(1) does not apply in respect of risks willingly assumed by the person who enters on the premises but, in that case, the occupier owes a duty to the person not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or property of that person and not to act with reckless disregard of the presence of the person or property of that person.”

Do you owe a duty of care to trespassers in Nova Scotia?

NO. You do not owe anyone who enters your property with intent to commit a criminal act a duty of care. Consequently, if a criminal gets injured on your property, that individual does not have the right to take civil action.

Additionally, the law states that you willingly assume the risk when you enter any of the properties listed below:

  • Forested land or agricultural land.
  • Vacant or undeveloped rural land.
  • Closed recreational facilities
  • Mines and quarries.
  • Recreational trails and private roads
  • Highway reservations.

What to do after a slip and fall accident on your property in Nova Scotia

For property owners, you should be aware that slip and fall scammers may pose as customers. So, to avoid getting scammed, do not be too quick to pay and install security cameras to make it easier to determine fault. That said. If someone slips and falls on your property, you should:

What to do after a slip and fall accident in Nova Scotia

If you are the victim of someone else’s actions, negligence, or inaction, you may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit. In a personal injury claim, you may sue for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, future income, and so on.

Legal experts recommend that you do the following.

  • Report the slip and fall accident to the occupier or property owner.
  • If you have coverage, you should report the incident to your insurer.
  • Seek medical attention and keep records of all expenses related to the fall.
  • Do not leave the scene without collecting evidence (the burden of proof is on the claimant). Take pictures, collect witness testimonies and anything else that may help you prove your claim.
  • Do not admit fault at the scene (words such as “it was my fault” may cost you your claim).

What happens if a contractor or third party causes a slip-and-fall accident on your property?

Under provincial laws, the occupier is not liable to pay if a contractor causes injury on the condition that
(1) You exercised reasonable care during contractor selection.
(2) “It was reasonable that the work that the independent contractor was engaged to do should have been done.”

Tip: the victim may take legal action against the contractor.

Do you owe a duty of care to trespassers?

No. Provincial laws say that you do not owe trespassers a duty of care. However, it is unlawful to intentionally do anything that may harm anyone who enters your property.

To be safe and to avoid potential litigation, we recommend:

  • Put up signs warning trespassers of potential danger, including dogs.
  • Install a no-trespass sign.

Remember, trespassing is a criminal act, and you do not owe criminals a duty of care.

Why you should not admit fault after a slip and fall in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia contributory negligence act reads, in part:

“Whereby the fault of two or more persons damage or loss is caused to one or more of them, the liability to make good the damage or loss is in proportion to the degree in which each person was at fault but if having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it is not possible to establish different degrees of fault, the liability shall be apportioned equally.”

What that means is the court will reduce damages based on your share of responsibility for the accident. It is up to investigators and the court to designate fault based on:

  • Actions or inactions
  • Evidence presented
  • Degree of negligence

What if you are equally responsible?

In such a scenario, Nova Scotia’s contributory negligence act requires the court to apportion liability equally.

What must you prove after a slip and fall accident?

In a negligence claim, provincial laws require you to prove:

  • The occupier/property owner owed the victim a duty of care. That means ensuring that your property is reasonably safe for all.
  • The occupier breached that duty of care. Failure to keep the property safe is a breach of duty. The law works under the assumption that the occupier knew or should have known of the existing threat.
  • The claimant/victim suffered an injury because of the breach of duty. Your injuries or property damage must be directly related to the accident.

Nova Scotia slip and fall laws: Small claims court or the court of Queen’s bench?

There are two ways to solve a slip and fall accident.
(1) The parties may negotiate a settlement out of court.
(2) The victim may file a claim. It is also worth noting that the property owner may file a suit against the victim if the individual was at fault and the incident resulted in property damage.

If you choose litigation, the maximum you may sue for in small claims court is $25,000. If you intend to sue for an amount higher than that, you must file a claim at the court of Queen’s bench.

We recommend consulting with a claim’s attorney immediately.