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Slip And Fall Lawyers in Toronto
Common causes of slip and fall incidents are uneven surfaces, cracked and eroded pavement, deep potholes, un-ploughed or unsalted snow and ice, loose carpeting, poor lighting, construction debris, unsafe steps and stairs, steep steps and curbs, hazardous spills and leaks.
When these incidents occur, there are many preliminary factors to consider which may act as a barrier to recovery if they aren’t dealt with immediately. Examples include taking photos and videos of the location and hazard, taking any necessary measurements to ensure the premises is property build to code, putting potential defendants on notice of the claim, obtaining witness information/statements, obtaining any available video footage of the incident, preserving footwear, testing the slipperiness of the area.
In Ontario, responsibility for fall incidents lies with an occupier of the premises in question. Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act outlines the duty of care owed to the public by an occupier of a premises.
The definition of “occupier” under the Act, includes:
(a) a person who is in physical possession of premises, or
(b) a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises or the activities there carried on, or control over persons allowed to enter the premises.
Generally, the duty of care owed is to ensure that patrons are reasonably safe while on the premises in question. An “occupier” could be an owner of the premises, a property management company, a tenant, a landlord, or a subcontract responsible for overseeing the premises. Often times, an occupier of the premises may have contracted certain maintenance responsibilities to an independent third party contractor and thus, they may deflect responsibility for the unsafe conditions onto that party. It is always very important to determine all of the parties with potential liability in these circumstances to preserve your full rights to recovery of compensation from the responsible parties.
It is difficult to know right away who may be liable in these situations. It will often require investigation by experts and legal analysis. At times, the parties will need to examine the records and documents and attend examinations for discovery of the parties to determine which of the parties are liable at law for the accident.
Occupiers are required to ensure they maintain their preemies to ensure it is safe to use and to work actively to ensure any hazards or risks are dealt with. The legal standard of care for occupiers is that of reasonableness in their system of maintenance and inspection. The occupier or responsible parties are required to take all reasonable measures to minimize or reduce risks of accidents. For instance, they are required to conduct regular checks, inspections and patrols. They are also required to actively maintain the premises. If they do not have the expertise or capacity to reasonably maintain, they must hire contractors to do so for them.
In order to establish that an occupier is liable, it often imperative to conduct all necessary investigations. This can include taking on-site measurements, obtaining closed circuit videos (CCTV), speaking with management and employees and obtaining witness statements. Once the matter proceeds through litigation, relevant information can also be demanded from the occupier including their maintenance records, incident reports, policies and manuals. The responsible occupier such as the landlord or company manager will also have to be produced on discovery to be questioned about the accident, failures in their practices and how the accident could have been prevented.
Occupier’s employees, managers and insurance adjusters will often conduct the investigation. Often times, insurers will maintain investigative privilege over their investigations and reports. However, arguments can be made based on case law, to compel defendants and their insurers to produce relevant reports and findings from the investigations.
A claimant who sustains injuries from a fall accident is entitled to recover from the occupier and their insurers for all of their expenses, damages, and losses including all lost income, medical expenses, therapy expenses, their pain and suffering, and any future complications and future losses resulting from the accident.
The claimant must prove that the occupier failed in its duties and which resulted in their injuries. The burden of proof to meet depends on the circumstances of each case. For instance, slip and fall cases involving snow or ice on a municipal sidewalk require the plaintiff to meet a higher burden of proving gross negligence on the municipality compared to a similar fall that occurs on private property, in order to succeed in an action to recover damages.
Occupiers will often try to argue that they maintained a reasonable system of inspection, they followed protocols, they did not know about any risks or hazards, and that they were not around at the time of the accident. These arguments must be critically examined and even cross-examined in Court to determine if they are valid excuses and have any merit to the case.
In order to be able to establish liability, it is imperative that the incident is properly investigated at the very outset and the matter handled by a lawyer experienced handling these claims.
Time Limit for Slip and Fall Claim
Generally, a claimant has 2 years to bring an action in Ontario when injured in a slip and fall incident, subject to certain exceptions prescribed in Ontario’s Limitations Act.
One or More Parties Could be Sued
Ontario’s Negligence Act provides that where a person’s damages have been caused or contributed to by the fault (or negligence) of one or more parties, those parties are jointly and severally liable to compensate and indemnify the injured person for the damages they have suffered as a result of the negligence.
A certain degree of fault or assumed risk on the part of the injured claimant may result in a deduction to entitlement to claim damages in the form of contributory negligence. The amount of this potential discount depends on the amount, or degree, of fault that is found on the part of the claimant. For example, if a person willingly chooses to take the path of a known construction site with posted warning signs and barriers, and ends up falling and injuring themselves, some degree of fault may be attributed to them for their actions and their choice to put themselves at risk of injury. The fact that a claimant contributed to their own injury is not a bar to recovery if there are other parties that contributed to the incident as well. It is important to contact a lawyer early in the process to determine whether you have a viable case.
At Grillo Barristers, we have over 30 years of experience litigating claims involving slip and falls. We can help you better understand the law and assist you in recovering the compensation that you deserve.
Remember, you will not pay any fees until your case is won or settled.