Slip and fall accidents are a common type of injury claim. Although senior citizens may be particularly at risk because of balance issues and fragile physical conditions, anyone can be the victim of a slip and fall accident because of the negligence of a property owner. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our Toronto personal injury lawyers at Affinity Law.
Injuries from slips and falls can be minor to extremely serious. These can include:
- Sprained ankle
- Torn knee ligaments
- Broken arm, pelvis, leg or ankle
- Facial fractures
- Fractured tailbone
- Kneecap fracture
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
All property owners, commercial and private, also referred to as “occupiers, “have a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably safe from hazards that could injury anyone lawfully on their property”. The severity of the injury may depend on the condition of the surface where the victim fell as well as the physical condition of the claimant. However, it is irrelevant if the person who fell was in poor physical condition and prone to serious injury from even a slight fall that would not have likely resulted in a serious injury to a person in normal or good physical health.
Slip and falls can occur on any type of property, including:
- Retail stores
- Grocery stores
- Public or private restrooms
- Private residences
- Bars or nightclubs
- Parking lots or garages
By promptly retaining one of our highly experienced Toronto injury lawyers after a fall, you have a greater opportunity for obtaining the most compensation available for your claim.
Causes of Slip and Falls
There are numerous factors that can lead to a serious slip and fall accident:
- Slick or icy surface
- Torn carpeting
- Uneven surfaces or steps
- Wet entrance mat
- Broken step
- Protruding objects
- Lack of handrail or a defective one
- Object or debris on the floor
- Poor lighting on a stairway or other commonly used passageway
Many slip and fall accidents occur in the winter months when sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and residence and store entrances are slippery from ice and snow. In grocery stores, liquid from a broken bottle, a dropped piece of fruit, or freshly mopped or waxed floor can present hazards that store owners must warn patrons about or take steps to remove. In a residence or office building, there may be faulty steps, torn carpeting, or a defective handrail that can lead to severe injuries.
What is Reasonable Care?
Ontario law requires that property owners take reasonable measures to ensure that those persons lawfully on their property are free from harm due to slick surfaces, broken steps, uneven surfaces, or any other condition that could reasonably cause harm to someone. If a person does suffer an injury from a slip and fall, the court will look at what measures or practices the landowner undertook to fulfill his or her duty of reasonable care. For example:
- Did the property owner maintain a routine procedure for inspecting the property?
- Was there a schedule for inspecting and cleaning the property?
- If a hazard was found, what steps were taken to warn persons of the risk?
- How long had the hazard been present before the accident occurred?
- Had the owner been previously alerted to the hazard?
- Did the owner clearly post a warning to others about the hazard?
Obviously, a commercial business owner who invites and encourages people to come onto the property will be scrutinized to see what safety measures were taken to ensure the property was free of hazards. For instance, were the food aisles in a grocery store inspected on a routine or standard basis such as every two hours? If a floor surface was uneven or slick, were there signs warning patrons of the risk? Is there a record of the inspections? Landlords of rented apartments also have a duty of care toward their tenants to keep common areas safe and to warn of hazard within leased units or in the common areas.
In case of a trespasser, the landowner’s duty of care is only to “…not create danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or his or her property and to not act with reckless disregard of the presence of the person or his or her property.” Occupier’s Liability Act. In other words, the landowner may not set a trap or set out to purposely create a dangerous condition that physically injures the trespasser or person committing a criminal act on the property.
However, a person who trespasses willingly accepts the risk of injury from hazardous conditions as does a person who signs a waiver of liability. Signed waivers are routinely seen in situations where people undertake certain recreational activities for a fee. But if you are engaging in a recreational activity for which no fee was charged, such as walking or playing in a park, wilderness area, or forest trail, then you have also willingly assumed the risk of harm. However, the risk of harm is not assumed where there is an unexpected hazard that the landowner knew or should have known about and failed to remedy. An example is that of child who is injured from a swing in a public park that broke because the metal chains holding it were worn out.
Other circumstances where a landowner or occupier could be held liable include:
- Not cleaning a spill within a reasonable time
- Not posting clear warnings about hazards such as uneven steps, holes, broken stairs, or other hazards
- Failing to remove ice from a driveway or walkway that the occupier knew of or should have known about
- Neglecting to inspect the property before visitors arrive to a residence
- Inadequately maintaining stairways or walkways (rotten railing or structure)
- Providing alcohol to visitors that results in a foreseeable injury (intoxicated person wanders off an unprotected balcony during the evening)
For municipalities, their degree of responsibility is found in the Ontario Municipal Act (2001). In cases of municipal liability for slip and falls on a sidewalk, the municipality must have been “grossly negligent,” which is a higher burden of proof for the claimant to show. Also, If you are injured on city or provincial property, you have only 10-days to give notice of your injury unless circumstances prevented you from giving timely notice. For all other slip and fall claims, you have 2-years from the date of the injury to file your claim in court.
Your Toronto slip and fall lawyer from Affinity Law can demonstrate liability on the part of the occupier by reviewing inspection reports, if any, and having experts examine the floor, sidewalk, step, handrail, balcony, or other defect or condition that caused the accident. In some cases, witnesses can attest to how long the defect or hazard had been present.
Responsibility of the Claimant
Anyone who was injured in a slip and fall accident in Ontario also has a duty to look out for his or her own safety. You can be held fully or partially responsible for your own injuries if you were less than responsible for your own safety. These situations might include:
- Being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs unless alcohol was supplied by the landowner and the injury reasonably foreseen to the owner
- Wearing inappropriate footwear for the type of surface where the fall occurred
- Failing to notice an open and obvious hazard
- Running on a known icy or slick surface
- Ignoring a prior warning of a hazard
If you are determined to be partially responsible, your damages will be decreased by your percentage or degree of fault. Because most insurers in slip and fall cases will attempt to lay some or all of the blame for the accident and injuries on the claimant, you will need a knowledgeable Toronto slip and fall lawyer to prosecute your claim.
Damages in a Slip and Fall Accident
Damages in a slip and fall accident can be substantial. Typically, they may consist of the following:
- Past and future loss of income
- Past and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Housekeeping and home maintenance expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Family members claim for loss of the injured person’s care, companionship, and guidance and other financial losses
Your Toronto slip and fall lawyer from Affinity Law can obtain all documentary and testimonial evidence to support damages, including your medical records and billing and paystubs or employment records. A medical report from your treating physician or health care provider can detail the history of your injury, symptoms, your physical condition before the fall, the severity of the injury, rehabilitation period, complaints of pain, and your inability to perform work, routine daily activities, or recreational activities. Because demonstrating proof of your damages can be as complex proving liability, it is vital that you consult with one of our experienced Toronto injury lawyers from Affinity Law as soon as possible to avoid submission/notice related delays in filing your claim.
Call us today for a free consultation at (905) 738-2463.