- Ontario occupier liability act explained: what happens if a person slips and falls on your property?
- Risks willingly assumed and why you should warn visitors if there is a slip and fall hazard
- What to do if someone slips and falls on your property
Yes. Under provincial laws, you may sue for pain and suffering after a slip and fall accident. But you may have to prove negligence on the part of the party tasked with maintaining the area. Federal laws cap the maximum amount you may sue for pain and suffering at $317,000. The injuries, at-fault party, and evidence determine liability.
- After a slip and fall accident, the victim may file a claim at the provincial court or the Court of Queen’s Bench, depending on the amount you seek.
- You owe a duty of care to anyone who is on your property legally.
- You do not owe a duty of care to anyone who willingly assumes a risk.
- A slip and fall victim may send a demand note to avoid litigation.
- Install surveillance equipment on your property to avoid slip and fall scammers.
- Notify visitors of potential slip and fall hazards on your property.
- The limitation period for a slip and fall accident in Ontario is two years.
Ontario occupier liability act explained: what happens if a person slips and falls on your property?
According to Ontario Occupier Liability Act Section 3 (1) “Occupiers’ Duty,” property owners in the province owe a duty of care, quote;
“An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.”
Your duty of care applies whether
(1) The hazard or danger is caused by activity on the premises
(2) The condition of the premises creates a hazard. Consequently, if you fail to put a “slippery floor” sign while cleaning and someone slips and falls because of your or an employee’s failure. You could be liable to pay the injured person/s.
Risks willingly assumed and why you should warn visitors if there is a slip and fall hazard
Section 4(1), “risks willingly assumed” states that you do not owe a duty of care to anyone who willingly assumes a risk. The section reads, quote:
“The duty of care provided for in subsection 3 (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 to not create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or his or her property and to not act with reckless disregard of the presence of the person or his or her property.”
Also, section 2 says that if a person enters your property intending to commit a crime, the criminal willingly assumes all the risks. In other words, you do not owe criminals a duty of care.
In short, you legally owe a duty of care to employees, visitors, and anyone else on your property.
You do not owe a duty of care to any person who enters;
- Rural property used for agriculture, undeveloped land, and forested or wooded areas.
- Marked recreational trails.
- Portage routes.
- Unopened road allowances.
- Golf courses that are not open for play.
What to do after a slip and fall accident in Ontario
If you are the victim and the accident was not the result of your actions, legal experts recommend that you do the following immediately after an accident:
- Check for injuries and seek medical attention if necessary. If your injuries require medical attention, make sure that you keep your medical bills as evidence.
- If capable, gather evidence. Take photos of the dangerous elements and collect witness testimonies and contact information.
- Write down the date, time, and other useful details that may help prove your case.
- Report the accident to the person in charge of the premises before you leave.
- If you intend to file a claim or take legal action, you should report the incident to the police. Failure to report may cost you compensation.
- Do not comment about your health until you speak to a physician.
What to do if someone slips and falls on your property
As the property owner, it is easy to fall victim to slip and fall scammers. Consequently, it is vital to ensure that you protect yourself. Some ways to do that include:
- If there is a dangerous element on your property, make sure that you warn visitors. Remember. If the victim assumes the risk, you do not owe him a duty of care.
- Install surveillance equipment on your property.
- Do not admit fault if someone slips and falls on your property.
- Contact your insurer if you have liability coverage.
- Render reasonable assistance to the victim (act in good faith).
- Make sure that there is enough lighting in your space.
- Regularly inspect your property and document potential hazards (you may need hazard inspection logs as a defense during trial).
What happens if a private contractor causes a slip and fall accident on your property?
Section 6(1) “liability where private contractor” states that quote:
“Where damage to any person or his or her property is caused by the negligence of an independent contractor employed by the occupier, the occupier is not on that account liable if in all the circumstances the occupier had acted reasonably in entrusting the work to the independent contractor if the occupier had taken such steps if any, as the occupier reasonably ought to be satisfied that the contractor was competent and that the work had been properly done, and if it was reasonable that the work performed by the independent contractor should have been undertaken.”
How is fault determined after a slip and fall accident in Ontario?
A slip and fall victim may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the property owner if:
- The accident was directly or indirectly caused by the actions of the occupier or an employee.
- The property owner knew or should have known that there was a dangerous surface or potential slip and fall hazard on the premises.
Remember. If you are at fault, you become liable to pay.
In a negligence suit, the claimant must prove:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care.
- There was a breach of duty.
- The breach of duty caused the accident.
Note that under Ontario’s Negligence Act, a judge or jury decides the degree of negligence.
The act reads in part, quote:
“Where damages have been caused or contributed to by the fault or neglect of two or more persons, the court shall determine the degree in which each of such persons is at fault or negligent, and, where two or more persons are found at fault or negligent, they are jointly and severally liable to the person suffering loss or damage for such fault or negligence, but as between themselves, in the absence of any contract express or implied, each is liable to make a contribution and indemnify each other in the degree in which they are respectively found to be at fault or negligent.”
Do you owe a duty of care to trespassers in Ontario?
Under provincial laws, property owners in Ontario do not owe a duty of care to trespassers. That means if a trespasser slips and falls on your property, you are not liable to pay. But there is an exception.
If the trespasser is a minor, you may be liable to pay if the child gets injured on your property.
To avoid a potential lawsuit, legal experts recommend that you put up a “no trespass sign” on your property.
When to hire a lawyer after a slip and fall accident in Ontario
As mentioned, provincial laws allow victims of negligence to take civil action. You may sue the property owner for damages, including pain and suffering, medical bills, Lost wages, and other damages. However, the burden of proof is on the claimant, meaning that you must show the court that the accident was not the consequence of your actions and that you suffered a physical and financial injury.
In short, if you did not cause the accident, you should consult with a lawyer as soon as you can.
File a lawsuit or settle out of court?
Before the case goes to trial, provincial laws allow the parties involved to negotiate a settlement. If the property owner agrees to pay, the issue will not go to trial. To that end, you should:
- Figure out what your claim is worth. The extent of your injuries, the property owners’ actions/failures, and the loss you suffer may impact your claim. We recommend consulting with a claim’s attorney
- Keep records of treatment and the incident.
A slip and fall victim in Ontario may write a demand letter
A demand letter is an alternative to litigation that contains
(1) A statement of facts (what happened).
(2) The injuries you suffered.
(3) Owner liability.
We recommend sending a demand letter through your lawyer.