When people think “personal injury”, the first thought that often comes to mind is a motor vehicle accident. However, with the winter weather now firmly upon us, it is important to be aware of another primary cause of personal injury: slip and fall injuries. Falls are a significant cause of injuries, accounting for 34% of injury-related hospitalizations in Canada. If a fall is due to a property owner’s negligence, the injured party may be entitled to financial compensation.
The legal obligations and duties imposed on a property owner are set out in the Occupiers Liability Act (OLA). The OLA requires the “occupier” of the property to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to see that a person will be safe while using the premises. An “occupier” is deemed to be a person who is either in physical possession of premises or has responsibility and control over those premises. This legal duty will apply to both private and commercial occupiers and extends to the condition of the interior of the premises as well the parking lots and sidewalks.
Winter Slip & Falls in Vancouver
A common slip and fall injury, especially at this time of year, is typically due to icy or slippery conditions caused by snow and rain, and property owners and occupiers must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of any persons who may use their premises. Fall-related injuries can also occur because of uneven sidewalks, poor lighting, inadequate flooring, spills, or unmarked debris and hazards. As with the accumulation of snow, ice and water, the OLA requires that occupiers take all reasonable steps to protect others from sustaining injury arising from these potential dangers.
These types of cases often involve important legal issues. For example, the existence of any of the hazards mentioned above does not necessarily mean that the occupier has been negligent as that will depend on the context of each case. Furthermore, there are often reduced notice periods, such as the two-month period for claims involving city property. As such, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible following a fall resulting in injury to ensure that all steps are taken to assess and preserve your legal claim to compensation.