Liability in Staircase Falls

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  • Falling down even a couple of steps can be extremely dangerous and lead to serious personal injuries. If the fall happens on private property, the owner or occupier could be liable for damages if they had failed to take reasonable care for the safety of those attending at their premises.[1]

    In order to succeed in an occupier’s liability claim, the plaintiff must be able to pinpoint some act or failure to act on the part of the occupier that caused the plaintiff’s injury.[2]  The plaintiff must show on a balance of probabilities that the fall and injuries were caused by a breach of the duty of care.[3] Common causes of individuals falling down the stairs include building code violations, uneven or wet steps, debris, poor lighting and broken or unsteady railings.

    Furthermore, liability can fall on municipalities, who are required to enact by-laws regarding inspection and enforcement of standards outlined in the Ontario’s Building Code Act.[4] Municipalities can be held responsible for building code violations and breaches of their duty to conduct proper inspections.[5]

    In Musselman v. 875667 Ontario Inc.[6], a case of a woman’s tragic fall down the stairs of a restaurant that rendered her a quadriplegic, the plaintiff successfully sued the City of Toronto for her injuries sustained as a result of a stairway fall. The City of Toronto was found negligent for their failure to ensure that the stairs were constructed in a manner that allowed for safe use by patrons, and failure to identify unsafe conditions in the stairs during their numerous inspections under multiple permits.

    If you or your loved ones have been injured as a result of a staircase fall, call the team at Jasmine Daya & Co. at 416-967-9100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.


    [1] Occupiers’ Liability Act 1990 R.S.O. 1990, c.O.2, s. 3(1) & (2).

    [2] St. Louis-Lalonde v. Carleton Condominium Corp. No. 12, [2005] O.J. No. 2721 (S.C.J.), at para. 27; Gemelus v. Ecole Secondaire Catholique Renaissance2010 ONSC 4232 (CanLII)Miltenberg v. Metro Inc., 2012 ONSC 1063 (CanLII)Gohm v. York2013 ONSC 7118 (CanLII), at paras 20-21.

    [3] Kamin v. Kawartha Dairy, 79 O.R. (3d) 294 C.A.

    [4] Building Code Act 1992, S.O. 1992, c.23.

    [5] Ingles v. Tutkaluk Construction Limited, 2000 SCC 12 at para 40.

    [6] Musselman v. 875667 Ontario Inc, 2010 ONSC 3177.