As if the normal winter hazards from ice and snow are not enough, our provincial government has now created a new hazard for those who are injured in a slip and fall accident because of someone else’s failure to maintain their property.
The Ontario government recently passed an amendment to the Occupiers Liability Act which provides that a person injured in a slip and fall accident due to ice and snow must give notice in writing to the “occupier” of the property where the slip and fall occurred or to any contractor responsible for winter maintenance of that property, within 60 days after the date of the accident. Notice must be given by “personal service” (i.e. handing to the occupier personally) or by registered mail. The giving of the notice must be documented in case the occupier or contractor denies receiving it.
Failure to give the proper notice in the proper manner within the 60 day time frame will result in the loss of your claim for compensation, subject to very limited exemptions.
This is an onerous requirement for most people. Often a title search is required to discovery who the owner or occupier of a property is. There may be no way to discover who the contractor is for a property other than by asking the owner or occupier.
There is a similar requirement if you are injured in an accident on a municipal roadway or sidewalk except that the notice period is only 10 days instead of 60 days. This requirement applies to any type of accident, not just those caused by snow and ice.
Many reasonable people do not take immediate legal action. They may wait to see if they can recover quickly from their injury before deciding to seek compensation. This is admirable but can result in the loss of your legal right to compensation. Don’t wait!
The moral of the story is that if you are injured in any kind of a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, contact a qualified personal injury lawyer immediately. Don’t wait. It is critical to give the required notice. You can always drop the case later if you decide not to proceed but start by protecting your rights before you lose them!