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Slip and Fall FAQs

Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury in Canada. Slips and trips that occur on another person’s property may entitle you to compensation under Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act.

The Act lays the groundwork for the pursuit of damages that may include medical bills, lost income and more. Below are four steps you can take after a slip and fall to better protect your rights to compensation.

A slip and fall accident can result in a number of debilitating and even life-threatening injuries, such as brain trauma or pelvic fractures. Some injuries, however, may not be immediately apparent. Examples include a concussion or certain back injuries.

A thorough and prompt medical examination can protect your long-term health and wellbeing. This step also is crucial for those victims wishing to take legal action against a negligent property owner or occupier as it :

Continue to stay in contact with your health care providers and follow your doctor’s instructions to the best of your abilities. This includes abstaining from work or other physical activities until you have been cleared to do so
Report your accident to the proper local authorities. Ask for a copy of the accident report. Notify the property owner or occupier of the accident and hazard. Ensure you have secured photos or other evidence of the hazard before the property owner has a chance to remedy the defect.
Hire a slip and fall lawyer as soon as your injuries allow. A lawyer assumes all responsibilities in handling your claim, including filing all necessary notices and requesting and reviewing evidence for your claim. An experienced lawyer can also help with determining :

Questions to ask a potential lawyer may include:

Most law firms offer free case evaluations. Use them as your opportunity to select a lawyer who is best suited for your case. Questions to ask during the initial interview include :

Many personal injury law firms offer their services on a contingency basis, wherein you pay only if you win your case.
Slip and fall accident claims carry a heavy burden of proof. You must be able to prove the owner or occupier committed negligence by failing to maintain a reasonably safe premises. Evidence is crucial in proving negligence, liability and damages. Examples of evidence may include:

A lawyer will also assume this time-consuming aspect of your claim. Do You Have a Valid Slip and Fall Accident Case? Our firm is ready to review your situation and answer your questions at no cost or obligation to you. Call us today at 905-265-1005 to schedule a time that is convenient for you, but don't wait too long. The law grants us a limited timeframe in which to file a claim against an negligent entity.

Here are some of the more common FAQs we encounter:

The Ontario's Occupier's Liability Act states as follows:

Occupier’s duty

3 (1) 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.

In the City of Toronto, if snow accumulation is 2cm or less in depth, it is up to residents and businesses to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice within 12 hours of the end of a snowfall. Property owners are responsible to clear snow and ice from private property including driveways, parking spaces, steps, ramps, and landings within 24 hours after a snowfall ends. Other cities have enacted similar bylaws. If an Ontario homeowner fails to take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is as safe as possible for potential visitors, they may be liable for damages for someone who slips and falls on their property. Homeowners should also apply salt, sand, or other suitable material to slippery surfaces.

NOTE: The Occupier's Liability Act (6.1 (1) states that no action for the recovery of damages of personal injury caused by snow or ice may be brought unless written notice is provided to the occupiers of the premises within 60 days of an incident outlining the date, time, and location of the occurrence.
Ontario's Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25, s. 44 (9) states that "(e)xcept in the case of gross negligence, a municipality is not responsible for a personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk".   The definition of gross negligence depends on the facts of each case.  The Minimum Maintenance Standards (O. Reg. 239/02) was incorporated into the Municipal Act in an attempt to defend against municipal liability.  It is also important to note that  s. 44 (10 of the Municipal Act states that before suing a municipality, you must give written notice within 10 days of your injury which includes the date, time, and location, and it must be served on the clerk of the municipality.  In addition to notifying the City Clerk within 10 days, it is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine your rights and obligations.
In addition to providing written notice (10 days for municipalities and 60 days for owners/occupiers of premises), it is often helpful to take pictures of the area where you fell and what caused you to fall.  The footwear worn at the time of fall will be relevant so it is important to take pictures of the tops and soles of the shoes.  If there were witnesses to your fall, obtain the contact information promptly.  Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure the relevant information is preserved and diarized.
The decision of whether to initiate an action or not will ultimately be your decision.  Homeowners may be protected from personal exposure through their homeowners insurance.  Pursuing a lawsuit may be required to access the insurance funding you need to recover in the event of serious injuries.  If there is no insurance policy in place, it may be more difficult to pursue legal action.

The property owner/occupier may not be liable if you willingly assumed the risks on the property, you were trespassing or committing criminal activity, or a third party independent contractor is liable.  You may also be found contributorily negligent if you contributed to your injuries by not paying due attention and/or not taking proper precautions to avoid a potential hazard, etc.
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident caused by someone's negligence, you are entitled to be compensated for any loss of income or loss of competitive advantage that is as a result of your accident related injuries.  If you miss work due to your injuries, you can apply for short term or long term disability through your employer if you have access to these benefits.  You can also apply for Employment Insurance through the government of Canada (or ODSP or CPPD for severe and prolonged disability).  It may take several years to resolve your claim.  Experienced lawyers can help obtain the documents necessary to calculate your lost wages which may include pay stubs, tax returns, T4 slips, notes from your employer relevant to the case, personal and corporate accounting records for self-employed individuals, medical records, and income loss reports.  Our firm will work with you to ensure a timely and appropriate result.
The range of settlement varies based on the severity of the injury, the time for recovery, the impact on your ability to work, medical expenses not covered by OHIP (including prescriptions, physiotherapy, psychological treatment, other medical-related expenses), contributory negligence on your part, and your future care needs.  Other factors which can impact the value of a case include, pre-existing medical conditions, the amount of insurance coverage available, the credibility of the injured party, and the medical records to support the injuries.  Settlement ranges can vary greatly from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands (and more).  It is important to gather the evidence quickly and thoroughly to prove your claim for pain and suffering, as well as your economic losses.
The process can take a few months to several years.  Factors which increase the length of the process include complex liability scenarios, numerous parties (plaintiffs and defendants), willingness of the parties to settle, and the jurisdiction where the accident occured.
By signing a liability waiver, you are agreeing to waive your right to sue for injuries sustained.  A waiver must use clear, unambiguous language which outlines the risks and the sufficient time must be provided to read and understand the terms.   A waiver does not absolve a party from liability in cases of gross negligence, intentional harm, or reckless behaviour.   A waiver is not enforceable if obtained through fraud or the signatory lacked capacity.

If warnings were provided in an effort to prevent a slip and fall, it may be more difficult to successfully recover your damages.  Property owners/occupiers must still act reasonably.  Effective warnings should be visible before encountering the hazard in question, persons should be able to see it regardless of the time of day, weather condition, etc. and the warning should be legible.  Property owners/occupiers are still required to address hazards promptly, follow proper procedures, and keep records (log notes) in order to shift liability to the injured party.
In addition to the notice requirements outlined above (60 days and 10 days for municipal owned property), the statute of limitations (deadline) to commence a claim in court is two years.  Generally you will have two years from the date of your slip and fall to issue the Statement of Claim.
Lawyers can help ensure a proper liability investigation is undertaken, limitation periods are not missed, can assist with court procedures, and can help you obtain the evidence necessary to prove your case.  Our team have helped many people through this difficult process.