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NEW CHANGES TO THE OCCUPIERS’ LIABILITY ACT IMPACTS SLIP AND FALLS ON SNOW OR ICE

CHANGES WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE INJURED IN WINTER SLIP AND FALLS

New amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act highlight the importance of seeking legal advice immediately after a slip-and-fall accident.

A person injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Ontario contemplating a claim for damages should be aware of some key limitations dates:

  1. A person injured in a slip-and-fall accident on private (i.e. non-government) property in Ontario typically has, per the Limitations Act, 2002, two (2) years from the date of the fall to commence a claim for the damages they suffered as a result of the fall.
  2. If, however, a person was injured in a slip-and-fall accident on municipal property (e.g. a city sidewalk), they are required, by s. 44(10) of the Municipal Act, 2001, to provide written notice of the potential future claim within ten (10) days of the fall if they wish to preserve their ability to make a claim within the two-year limit; should they fail to do so, their future claim may be statute-barred.

On December 8, 2020, Bill, 118, the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020, received royal assent. This Act amends the Occupiers’ Liability Act and imposes new requirements on persons injured in slip-and-fall accidents caused by snow or ice if they wish to preserve their ability to make a claim against the occupier of the property (usually the landlord or the tenant) or independent contractor contracted to clear ice and snow from the property.

Specifically, the new amendment requires: that a person injured in a slip-and-fall accident as a result of snow or ice provide written notice of a potential future claim, either by personal service or registered mail to the occupier or independent contractor within sixty (60) days of the fall.

The amendment allows for some exceptions. The sixty-day notice period does not apply if the slip-and-fall accident caused the death of the person involved. Additionally, if a judge finds that there was a both (1) a reasonable excuse for failure to give notice within the sixty-day notice period and (2) the defendant was not prejudiced in its defence, then failure to give notice within sixty-days will not bar the injured person’s claim.

The Ontario government has not yet announced the exact date that the Act (and its amendments) will come into force.

Many Ontarians are aware of the typical two-year limitations period for civil claims. Most, however, are not aware of special notice periods that apply only to specific types of claims, such as the ten-day notice period that applies to certain kinds of claims against municipalities, and this, new, sixty-day notice period that applies to slip-and-fall claims caused by snow or ice. As a consequence, these kinds of provisions place procedural hurdles in the way of injured persons, and can, in some cases, operate to bar meritorious claims by injured persons on purely technical grounds.

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, contact The Morris Law Group to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of lawyers will assess your claim, help you understand the legal process, including its special notice provisions and tight timelines.

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