What Responsibility Does A Landowner Have For Injuries To Hikers and Campers? - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

What Responsibility Does A Landowner Have For Injuries To Hikers and Campers?


The lakes, mountains and abundance of trials throughout Ontario offer hikers and campers unlimited opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities this summer. You can reduce the risk of being injured by taking a few precautions that begin by packing the proper gear and clothing. When accidents and injuries do occur, the owner of the land on which you were hiking or camping might be responsible under the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act.

Preparation is essential to remain safe during outdoor activities

Pack enough food, water and other supplies to last at least for the length of time you anticipate being gone. Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly, but keep in mind that weather at this time of year can be unpredictable with heat during the day and much chillier conditions at night particularly at higher elevations.

Being leaving home, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Ask them to contact the authorities if you fail to return as scheduled and they do not hear from you.

A GPS device is a good thing to have to help you navigate unfamiliar terrain. Don’t rely upon your cellphone as your GPS device in case your battery dies or in the more likely situation that you cannot acquire a signal at your location. Always bring a map with you as a backup.

Never go it alone

Hiking and camping with friends makes for a more enjoyable experience, and it is also safer. An accident on a remote trail could put your life at risk if you are alone with no one to help you.

Be prepared for emergencies

Regardless of how experienced you might be at hiking or camping, accidents and injuries happen, so be prepared with a first aid kit. It is a good idea before hitting the trails and campsites to take a course in basic first aid to give you the ability to deal with injuries that might occur.

Landowner liability if you are injured

It is a good practice when you know you will be on land belonging to another party to get the owner’s permission. Failing to do so could make you a trespasser and affect your rights should you suffer an injury.

The Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act makes the owner of property responsible for the safety of people entering on the land. This duty of care extends to injuries caused by the condition of the property or by activities undertaken on it. However, a landowner does not owe the same duty of care to a trespasser.

Trespassers assume all risks associated with their entry upon property belonging to another party without the owner’s permission or consent. Marked hiking trails, private roads, and utility rights-of-way are some examples of property to which the Occupiers’ Liability Act applies.

If a landowner gives permission for you to hike or camp on the property, the duty of care owed to you does not apply to risks that you willingly accept. For instance, being burned by a campfire that you start would be a risk associated with your activity of camping that you freely assume. However, a landowner who creates a dangerous situation that causes you to be injured could be liable to you for damages.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

If you are injured in a an accident on property belonging to another party, the personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation on behalf of accident victims. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They have offices located throughout Ontario offering free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims and their families.


If a hiker gets lost and inadvertently wanders into a landowner’s property, is the hiker considered trespassing?

Not necessarily. A hiker who inadvertently ends up on private property without encountering trespass warning signs or boundary fences cannot be legally accused of trespassing. The reason being, tort/common law, assumes the absence of trespass signs or a boundary defining fence is synonymous to acceptable entry onto the property. However, this tort law applies to daylight hours.

On the other hand, if the hiker had encountered a fence or sign prohibiting entry, he/she may be legally charged for trespassing onto private property. The argument that he/she was lost before winding up on private land would be effectively nullified in this scenario.

What is the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act?

The Ontario Occupiers’ liability act stipulates that a person officially occupying a building, piece of land, a trailer, ship/water-faring vessel, and various other structures is charged with ensuring the safety of anyone visiting the occupied property. Furthermore, the occupier is charged with ensuring any personal items brought by visitors don’t get damaged while on the occupied property.

An occupier is absolved of the duty of care towards a visitor if he/she can prove the presence of criminal or malicious intent, such as theft of valuable items, harassment/intimidation of the occupier, destruction of fixtures, misuse of amenities, etc.

What does “duty of care” mean?

Duty of care refers to the implied responsibility that a person has towards ensuring another individual’s safety and well-being. For example:-

  • A parent has a duty of care toward a child.
  • A staff member has a duty of care towards a customer.
  • A teacher has a duty of care toward a student.
  • A police officer has a duty of care towards a commoner.
  • A doctor has a duty of care towards a patient, and so forth. Any act by one person that adversely affects another’s well-being/safety is punishable by law as an act of negligence or criminal intent.


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