Not all slip and falls are equal when it comes to personal injury litigation. In fact, when a fall takes place on municipal, versus private, property, faster and more precise action is necessary.
The problem? Most people don’t know this and are putting their potential compensation for damages at risk!
Here is what you need to know:
Identify quickly whether the fall took place on municipal property. If municipal, there is a strict 10-day window to notify the city, on top of the standard two-year limitation period to issue a statement of claim as against the property owner. Time is of the essence!
Notices to the City must include the location, the injuries, the identity of the person who fell and the circumstances. If you do not do this in time, or properly, you may lose the right to sue.
Notification should be sent to the city clerk’s office by email, fax or registered mailed with sufficient time to receive a confirmation of receipt and proving that notice was filed within the 10 days.
After 10 days, it is up to the injured person to prove that the city was not prejudice by the late notice making a successful outcome a lot more difficult. It is why putting the city on notice is step one for any lawyer, at times even before he or she is formally retained to act, and even if their client is still in hospital.
Calling a lawyer for help, especially when time is ticking, will ensure:
- That the deadline is not missed and that the city does not shut down the claim as a result
- That the notice is sent to the RIGHT municipality.
- That there is sufficient detail within the notice for the person receiving it to investigate the loss
There are other important distinctions between claims made on city versus private land.
When the property that a slip on ice or snow occurred is private, all that is needed is to prove “negligence”. When the accident is on municipal sidewalk or roadway, “gross negligence” must be proved. It is the plaintiff that has to meet this onus.
In other words, the plaintiff must show the private property owner to be “unreasonable” versus “highly unreasonable” in the case of municipal land.
In all slips and falls or trips and falls the plaintiff needs to prove that the policies and procedures in place were unreasonable or very unreasonable; or that the policies and procedures were not followed and not following it was unreasonable or very unreasonable.
While it may seem like semantics to the average person taking a walk on a snow covered sidewalk, or an uneven sidewalk on a hot summer day, the good news is lawyers are used to these fine details.
Part of the legal assessment is investigating the character and nature of where the fall happened. What was the time of day or week? Was there proximity to schools, subways and public gathering spots? Is this a place where there are lots of children or seniors?
The good news you only have to do one thing. Remembering where you fell matters. So if in doubt, call a lawyer!
If you’ve had a slip and fall or a trip and fall as a result of someone else’s negligence, call Adam Somogyi, personal injury lawyer at Pace Law Firm.