Slip And Fall Accidents | Occupiers’ Liability

By Robert Kram | February 18, 2014

In this Q & A, Toronto personal injury lawyer Robert Kram takes a look at the rules around slip and fall accidents, and answers questions about homeowner liability.

1. Am I responsible for clearing my sidewalk and driveway of snow and ice?
If a person has possession or control of a property, the Occupier’s Liability Act imposes a duty to take reasonable care to see that persons entering on the premises are reasonably safe while on those premises. This duty covers sidewalks and driveways on the property. It does not extend to municipal sidewalks, unless the owner/occupier of the adjacent property has assumed control over the sidewalk or in some manner is responsible for a condition that results in an injury.

For instance, let’s say a landowner or occupier of a property causes water to drain from their property onto a municipal sidewalk, which then freezes into ice. It could then be argued that under the common law, the owner/occupier has liability for a slip and fall injury which occurs on that municipal sidewalk.Note that the existence of a municipal bylaw requiring an owner/occupier to clear the municipal sidewalk does not by itself impose civil liability on the owner/occupier.

2. What if I’m away on vacation when it snows, and someone slips on my property?
If the owner/occupier is on vacation, it would be prudent to hire someone to inspect and clear the property of ice and snow. An occupier is not responsible for the negligence of a contractor who is hired to clear ice and snow, provided reasonable steps have been taken to satisfy themselves that the contractor was competent and would carry out the work properly.

3. What happens if someone slips and falls on my property? Can I get sued?You can be sued if someone slips and falls on your property. Whether they are successful will depend on whether you have satisfied the duty imposed by the Act.

4. How long after a slip and fall does someone have to make a claim?

The injured person has two years from the date of the fall to bring an action for damages.

5. Does homeowner insurance cover slip and fall claims?

If the owner/occupier of the premises has homeowner’s insurance, that insurance will respond to a slip or trip and fall claim.

The foregoing is a simplistic overview of the laws relating to slip/trip and falls on private property. Should you be involved in a slip and fall incident, whether as a homeowner or a victim, be sure to consult a personal injury lawyer right away to learn about your rights.

Robert Kram is a personal injury lawyer with Pace Law Firm. He has been fighting for accident victims’ rights since 1972.