If you have sustained an injury on another person’s property — such as in a slip and fall, trip and fall, or other “premises liability” accidents — you will be required to prove the owner’s negligence in order to pursue compensation. Skilled Toronto personal injury lawyers will help victims seek fair and sufficient financial recovery in occupiers’ liability claims.
Whether an individual is hurt while shopping in a grocery store, at an amusement park, on a visit to an office building or any number of other locations, a good Toronto premises liability lawyer can explore the facts and pursue the financial recovery necessary for real healing.
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Fundamental Concepts in Premises Liability Law
The cornerstone idea in the law of premises liability is the basic proposition that there are situations in which a property owner can and should be held responsible for injuries experienced by visitors.
As such, a premises liability case is not terribly unlike other sorts of negligence-based matters in that plaintiffs are required to demonstrate that the defendant was possessed of a duty to those visiting the property, that the duty was in fact breached and that the breach was the direct cause of the losses alleged.
While the minds of many immediately turn to slip-and-fall scenarios when thinking of premises liability lawsuits, this practice area actually covers a broad range of injury situations, including those caused by:
- Neglected maintenance of stairwells
- Poor lighting
- Cracked sidewalks or walkways
- Potholes in walkways or driveways
- Dog bites/animal attacks
- Rolled up carpeting
- Faulty wiring
- Nightclub assaults
- Broken doors
- Amusement park accidents
- Accumulations of snow and ice on walkways
- Sports venue mishaps
- Inadequate provision of security staff at crowded public events
- Pool or park melees
- Porch/balcony collapse
- Lead/mercury poisoning
- Faulty maintenance of escalators and elevators
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Determining Liability in a Toronto Premises Liability Case
The Ontario government created the Occupiers’ Liability Act to address liability in the case of on-premises injury. The law defines an “occupier” as someone who is in physical possession of a property (such as a homeowner) or a person who ultimately has responsibility for a property’s safety (such as a store manager or a landlord). When determining the rights of individuals in commercial property cases to private property cases, skilled lawyers are essential.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act covers injuries occurring on or in:
- Private property
- Public parks
- School yards and playgrounds
- Malls, grocery stores, apartment buildings or private homes
- Swimming pools
- All other property except for municipal sidewalks and roadways
- Night clubs, with security guard negligence cases
Under Ontario law, an occupier owes all persons who enter onto a property a duty of care. This dictates they must maintain premises in a reasonably safe manner under the circumstances of each case. If they do not, they are likely liable to the injured individual. For instance, if someone’s slip and fall on ice was because there was no salt or sand applied to the premises, the owner of the property will likely be liable for their injuries.
However, the law also stipulates that someone’s own actions can impact their ability to hold a property owner liable for their injuries. For instance, if they suffered a head injury while running at the side of a swimming pool when it was wet after getting out of the pool, they may have a difficult time proving liability and negligence. This is because their own actions could be said to have caused the accident and injury.
Experienced premises liability lawyers in Toronto understand the nuances of the Occupiers’ Liability Act. When working with a Toronto premises liability lawyer, they will investigate their client’s case and assess the evidence to determine who is liable for their injuries dependent on their types of cases and what types of damages they may be able to recover.
Duties Owed by Property Owners and Occupiers
In a very real sense, the owners and occupiers of property are deemed to have a legal duty to exhibit reasonable care so as to steer clear of acts and omissions likely to cause injuries to those who visit.
It is necessary for them to keep their premises in safe condition and prevent harm that would stem from dangers known to them or hazards of which they should have been aware. A duty to warn of known risks is also attributed to premises owners, though there is no requirement of absolute perfection when it comes to safety measure undertaken.
Generally speaking, the duties of owners and occupiers to visitors extend only to individuals who are lawfully on their property. A more limited duty of care is owed to those trespassing on the premises, those involved in the commission of a crime, those making use of utility rights of way or private roads and those using certain types of rural land.
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Who Can Be Considered an Owner or Occupier
When it comes to assigning a duty to maintain property in a safe condition for visitors, it is necessary to clearly define who may rightly be thought of as an owner or occupier for that purpose. This analysis aids injury victims in identifying appropriate targets in their quest for fair compensation.
As provided by the Occupiers’ Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.2, “occupiers” in the premises liability context may encompass anyone who maintains physical control or oversight of a given property or anyone placed in charge of granting entry upon it. Individuals in this category could include:
- Actual owners/landlords
- Security firms
- Snow and ice removal crews
- Cleaning staff
- Community group leaders
- Coaches/sports league administrators and management
Common Injuries in Premises Liability Cases
Because premises liability law covers such a diverse array of potential fact patterns, it stands to reason that the sort of injuries often claimed in these matters is extraordinarily varied as well. Some of the more typical complaints of those harmed by the negligence of property owners and occupiers are:
- Bone fractures
- Severe burns
- Traumatic brain injury/cognitive losses
- Torn ligaments
- Skin infections
- Internal organ damage
- Nerve damage
- Lasting disfigurement
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Disc herniations
- Spinal cord injury
Categories of Recoverable Loss
Victims of negligent property maintenance and/or control regularly suffer injuries that run the gamut from being relatively minor and short-lived to those which produce life-altering impairment and permanent disability.
Plaintiffs whose misfortune falls on the latter end of that spectrum may be able to recover very substantial sums from parties determined to bear responsibility for what occurred. Pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, therapy costs and other forms of monetary recovery can be zealously pursued by a seasoned premises liability lawyer.
Issues in Liability Apportionment
As provided by the Negligence Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. N.1, a determination that a plaintiff contributed in some way to the injuries alleged is not a complete bar to recovery. Rather, the court will be charged with apportioning damages in relation to the degree of negligence assessed against each party, and compensation to the victim, if awarded, will be reduced accordingly.
Seeking Accountability and Financial Recovery
Concretely establishing liability on the part of a premises owner or occupier is rarely a simple or straightforward undertaking. Marshaling photographic evidence, reviewing medical records, assessing wage loss implications and projecting future anticipated financial ramifications of a serious injury can prove daunting for legal professionals lacking experience in this specific realm of practice.
Therefore, it is wise for those who suspect they have been harmed by another party’s negligence to enlist the guidance of a lawyer who understands the essential elements of a premises liability claim and the proof required to build persuasive arguments on a client’s behalf.
There is also no substitute for a lawyer able to draw upon an expansive network of subject matter experts including physicians, engineers, architects, economic loss analysts and others who can provide the insights and testimony such cases demand.
Contact a Toronto Premises Liability Lawyer
If you or someone you love have been wrongfully injured while on the property of another party, there is no reason to delay your quest for justice.
Occupiers’ liability cases require substantial evidence and investigation. Our Toronto premises liability lawyers have decades of experience handling such claims and can tell you immediately if your claim has merit. Contact us today for a free consultation.