Although we have been experiencing a milder winter in Ontario than seen for several years, the risk of slipping and falling on icy pavement has not abated, particularly in areas where the temperature frequently fluctuates around zero Centigrade. Certainly, appropriate footwear and exercising caution as we are walking will reduce our risk of slipping and falling; however, even when we do everything right, we cannot entirely escape the potential for injury from an unexpected icy patch.
YouTude videos of pedestrians slipping and falling on ice abound at this time of year, but there is nothing funny about falling when you become hurt or seriously injured. Slip and fall accidents commonly result in back, tailbone and spinal injuries. Also fairly common are injuries to the wrist and arms, sprained ankles and head injuries. Unfortunately, many of us do not entirely recover from an injury we experienced in a slip and fall.
If you suffered serious injury as a result of a slip and fall on an icy surface, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses if your accident resulted from a property owner’s negligence in maintaining the walkway, parking lot or another location. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, Ontario property owners and occupiers are obligated to take reasonable care to keep anyone coming onto their property safe. If you were not clearly warned of an unsafe condition or hazard on a property and you experience injuries as a result, the property owner can be held liable for your damages.
Owners of businesses and commercial properties are held to the highest standard with respect to premises liability if a customer or member of the public is injured by an unsafe condition on their property. Homeowners can also be held accountable for injuries to anyone who comes onto their property if someone is injured due to an unsafe condition of which the homeowner ought to have been aware.
Municipalities have a duty of care to keep people safe, as defined in Ontario’s Municipal Act, which applies to roads, bridges, buildings, sidewalks and any other premises under their jurisdiction. If it can be shown that a municipality did not have a procedure in place for inspecting and fixing their property and this failure to fix an unsafe condition led to someone’s injuries, then the injured person has grounds for holding the municipality liable for injuries. In other words, there is an obligation for a municipality to fix a hazard of which it was cognisant or ought to have been aware.
In 2015, a woman sued the City of Toronto for injuries she sustained from a slip and fall on an icy Toronto sidewalk as she was walking her granddaughters to school. The plaintiff, Ms. Cumberbatch, fractured her vertebrae and required surgery as a result of her fall, and now walks with a cane and a limp. In the trial, Audrey Cumberbatch v The City of Toronto, the plaintiff argued that the presence of a hospital and school in the immediate area of the fall should obligate the City to remove ice and snow promptly. Further, there was evidence that a significant weather event was forecast just prior to the accident, but no salting or sanding crews were dispatched to the location of the accident despite the warnings of snow. The judge concluded that the City was aware of the potentially dangerous conditions but did nothing to rectify them within the 48 hours prior to Ms. Cumberbatch’s slip and fall, and this failure constitutes ‘gross negligence’ on behalf of the City. Accordingly, the City of Toronto was found liable for the plaintiff’s injuries and damages were set at $110,000 plus costs.
If you were seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, the amount of damages to which you are entitled depends on the severity of your losses. Accident victims may receive compensation for loss of income, attendant care, and medical and rehabilitation expenses, and family members may also be eligible for expenses incurred in supporting their injured loved one.
Call the Injury Lawyers of Ontario (ILO) to find out about your legal right to compensation based on the unique facts of your case, if you sustained injuries due to the likely negligence of another party. Let us put our experience and expertise at your disposal in seeking just compensation for your losses. Arrange a no-obligation consultation at your earliest convenience to ensure that you do not miss any statutory time limitations with respect to notifying the ‘at fault’ party of your injuries and commencing a claim.