Sidewalk Slip & Fall: Who Is Liable? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Sidewalk Slip & Fall: Who Is Liable?


The freezing temperatures, snow and ice are normal facts of winter life associated with living in Ontario. The weather makes simple, everyday tasks, such as walking to school, work or the store, dangerous and hazardous activities. A slip and fall on an icy, snow-covered or broken sidewalk can cause a fractured bone or a serious head injury. If you fall on a sidewalk or parking lot, you could be entitled to compensation from the property owner or the municipality.

Property owner liability for sidewalk slip and fall

Sidewalks offer a convenient and, usually, safe place to walk. A poorly maintained walkway or one from which snow and ice has not been properly removed is dangerous and could cause serious injuries or death in the event of a fall. Common hazards include:

  • Ice or snow accumulation
  • Uneven pavement
  • Broken concrete
  • Cracked pavement

The Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act imposes a duty on property owners to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of people lawfully on their property. This would include an obligation on the partof owners of the following businesses and organizations to maintain their sidewalks:

  • Retail stores
  • Shopping malls
  • Schools
  • Office buildings
  • Residential homes and properties
  • Hospitals

If you are injured by falling on a sidewalk that has not been properly maintained by the property owner, the law gives you the right to make a claim for compensation against the owner.

Municipal liability for unsafe sidewalks

When Ontario cities, such as Toronto or Ottawa, are responsible for the clearing of snow and ice, slipping on a patch of ice could give you the right to seek damages from the municipality. Unlike a private property owner, the liability is limited to circumstances in which the municipality is grossly negligent.

The Ontario Municipal Act does not offer examples of gross negligence, but court decisions pertaining to winter weather and municipal liability for slip and fall accidents on sidewalks mention the following:

  • Ice accumulations remaining for several days
  • Snow and ice allowed to remain on a frequently used sidewalk
  • Failure of a city to react quickly to freezing temperatures following a rainfall
  • The lack of a municipal policy for sidewalk maintenance

Time limitations for compensation claims

It is important to seek advice from a lawyer if you have been injured in a sidewalk mishap. If the slip and fall happened on a sidewalk maintained by a municipal government, claims based on ice and snow conditions must be reported in writing under the Municipal Act within 10 days of the accident. Failure to serve written notice could cause you to lose the right to sue for compensation.

A lawsuit to force a property owner or a municipal government to pay compensation commenced within two years of the accident. This is a limitation period that could result in losing your right to be compensated if you fail to sue on time.

Compensation for your injuries

If there is evidence of negligence on the part of a property owner in maintaining a sidewalk or of gross negligence if the claim is against a city for failing to remove snow and ice, you could recover the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Medication expenses
  • Loss of future income

The seriousness of your injuries and how well you recover from them will affect the amount of compensation you receive.

Trusted advice and representation

A slip and fall can leave you with serious injuries and legal issues requiring the assistance of the personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond. They have years of experience handling all types of personal injury claims for compensation for people injured through the negligent conduct of others. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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