Hiking: Know Your Rights If Injured On A Trail - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Thursday, 07 March 2019

Hiking: Know Your Rights If Injured On A Trail

#AskMichaelBlois

Ontario offers its residents and visitors countless scenic trails suitable for hiking and off-road cycling no matter what level of experience or ability a person might possess. Chances are that being injured in an accident is the last thing on your mind as you set out for a day of fun and exercise, but accidents and injuries do occur. The law in Ontario offers land owners and occupiers protection against claims made by individuals injured in recreational areas, but the protection is not absolute. If you are injured while hiking or biking on a trail, you could be entitled to compensation for injuries attributable to the fault of the owner or occupier of the property.

Property occupier’s general duty of care

If you are invited to a backyard party at a friend’s home, the host owes a duty to take reasonable care of the premises, meaning the land and structures, to keep you reasonably safe while enjoying the festivities. This duty of care as found in the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act applies to hazards relating to the condition of the premises, such as an unsecured rug that creates a slip-and-fall risk, or to activities taking place, such as the unsafe handling of fireworks.

The duty to provide a safe environment for people using a particular premises applies to a number places you probably frequently visit, including:

  • Apartments and other residential properties
  • Office buildings
  • Retail stores, including supermarkets
  • Arenas and sports facilities

Some locations specifically covered by the Ontario law that might not readily come to mind as being “premises” include the following:

  • Water
  • Boats, ships and other vessels
  • Trailers and any portable structure intended for use as a home, shelter or business
  • Motor vehicles, trains, railway cars and aircraft except during times when they are in operation. For instance, a railway car parked on a railroad siding is a premises for purposes of the statute, but the law does not apply to it when it is a component of a train in operation.

If you are injured on a trail used for hiking or cycling in Ontario, it could meet the definition of “premises” and provide a right to make a claim for compensation against an occupier, which the law identifies as either the party in physical possession or the one in control of the condition of the premises or over who is permitted to enter and use them.

Your rights if injured on a trail

Hiking and biking trails obviously are much different than your local supermarket or the building in which your doctor has an office, but the Occupiers’ Liability Act does provide hikers and bikers with limited protection. Occupiers of undeveloped rural premises, including marked recreational trails, portage routes and utility rights-of-way, do not owe you the same duty of care as would your neighbor or the owner of the supermarket where you shop.

As long as the occupier of the premises on which you are hiking or biking does not charge a fee for its use, the law assumes you willingly accept the risks associated with the activity. However, it does protect you against injuries caused by conduct of the occupier that is intended to harm you or others entering upon the property or is the result of activities by the occupier engaged in with reckless disregard for the presence of others.

Obtain help from an Ontario personal injury lawyer

Determining the duty of care owed to you when hiking or biking on property belonging to another party requires an evaluation of the facts and the law by an experienced personal injury lawyer. The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf of people injured in accidents while engaging in recreational activities. Learn more about your right to recover compensation by speaking with one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.

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