Winter Safety: Tips to Avoid Slip and Falls

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  • Southern Ontario received one of its biggest snowfalls in decades just a few weeks ago.  Based on the number of 311 complaints and complaints made directly to the Mayor in Toronto alone, our municipalities were woefully unprepared to deal with the snow and ice that came.

    In a news release, the Mayor called for a review of the City’s winter maintenance operations:

    Any changes made will likely not be seen this winter, and with more storms expected this month, I’ve compiled some tips and reminders for readers with regards to slip and falls on municipal (city) sidewalks when a lawsuit is contemplated:

    • As a general rule, the City needs to hear about locations that require winter clean up or pose a danger. Even before a fall, if you notice an area of sidewalk that needs to be ploughed or salted, call the City and notify them to prevent others from being injured.
    • After a slip and fall, you are required by the Municipal Act to provide written notice to the City Clerk (of whichever City you fell in) of the details surrounding your fall within 10 calendar days of the fall. In your email or letter to the City, make sure you include:
    1. Your name, address and telephone number
    2. The date and time of your fall
    3. The precise location (which street, closest intersection or landmark, which side of the street)
    4. The reason for your fall (slip on ice, snow, trip on uneven pavement)
    5. Your injury

    Failing to provide this information within the 10 day deadline may result in you being barred from starting a lawsuit against the City.  There can be arguments made if you miss that deadline, but it is always best to try to send the notice as soon after your fall as possible.  Once notice is sent, you have 2 years from the date of the incident to start your lawsuit.

    • The City owns every sidewalk on public property, meaning that they are the ones responsible for its winter maintenance. Although by-laws in most areas require adjacent homeowners and businesses to maintain sidewalks, legal responsibility when it comes to lawsuits lies with the City.  Private sidewalks such as those found within plazas are usually the legal responsibility of the store owner/building owner and do not require notice to the City within 10 days.  If you are at all unsure, send notice to the City regardless to protect your rights.
    • A home or business owner may have some legal liability if they occupied the sidewalk, or if they caused or contributed to the condition that caused you to fall, for example, water flowing from the property on to the sidewalk causing ice. Make note if you think this is the case and speak to your lawyer about it.
    • Take pictures of the location immediately after your fall as soon after your fall as you or someone on your behalf is able.
    • Take pictures of your injuries.
    • Keep the boots or shoes you were wearing aside until the end of your case, and bring pictures of them with you to your appointment with a lawyer.
    • Obtain the names and contact information of anyone who may have seen you fall, or of people living in the neighborhood who can confirm the condition of the sidewalk where you fell.

    If you or a loved one have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Jasmine Daya & Co. team at 416-967-9100 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.