Limits of Owner Liability For Injuries On Recreational Property - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Limits of Owner Liability For Injuries On Recreational Property


Winter in Ontario brings with it opportunities to enjoy skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor activities involving the snow. Hiking on snow-packed trails or cross country skiing on open fields or perhaps on a local golf course that is closed for the season can be fun, but legal issues arise if you are injured. The property owner’s liability might not be as clear as it might be had you slipped and fallen in a local retail store while shopping.

General Rules About Property Owner Liability

Whether you are invited to a friend’s home for dinner or stop at a retail store to make a purchase, the property owner has a duty to ensure that you are not injured. If you slip and fall on a wet floor in a supermarket or tumble down steps when a loose handrail breaks free at your friend’s home, the owner or occupier in control of the premises is responsible for your injuries under the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act.

The owner or occupier, which would include a tenant of the property, must take reasonable measures to ensure the premises are safe. This means the owner or occupier must perform proper maintenance and repairs and take reasonable steps to warn you of any dangers or hazards. For example, if a store owner notices a puddle on the floor, it must be cleaned to prevent a shopper from slipping on it or a cone or other warning device must be displayed to let customers know of the hazard.

Exceptions to an Owner’s Liability

The law in Ontario protecting you from the negligent or careless conduct of a property owner does not extent that protection to everyone. Owners and occupiers are not responsible for injuries to someone entering upon their premises under the following circumstances:

  • When entry is for the purpose of engaging in criminal activities.
  • When the individual is trespassing by entering without the consent of the owner or occupier.
  • When the individual enters to engage in a recreational activity without paying an entry fee to the owner or occupier.

If you enter under one of these circumstances, the property owner or its occupier are not liable for injuries you suffer because the law states that you assume all risks. Trespassers could also be charged with a criminal offence.

Your Rights When on Someone’s Property to Engage in Recreational Activities

When you enter upon another party’s property to engage in recreational activities, the Occupiers’ Liability Act specifically limits the liability of the owner when it passes assumption of the risk of injury on to you. Examples of winter activities that might fall into this category include:

  • Entering land to ice skate on a frozen natural pond
  • Cross country skiing on farmland
  • Hiking on trails on forested land
  • Riding a snowmobile
  • Tobogganing

When occupiers and owners charge a fee to engage in recreational activities, the risks you assume are only those normally related to the activity as opposed to assuming all risks. For instance, if you pay a fee to go ice skating at an ice rink and fall, any injuries you suffer would be because of a risk normally associated with ice skating. However, if you fell because the ice was poorly maintained by the rink owners, they could be held responsible because they charged you a fee.

Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation by people suffering injuries through the negligent conduct of owners and occupiers of business, recreational and residential properties. If you suffer an injury and need to file a claim, you should speak to one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond & Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario

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