Premises liability is a legal concept that typically comes into play in personal injury cases where an injury was caused by some type of hazardous or defective condition on somebody’s property. Premises at law can mean not only lands and structures but also water, ships, vessels, trailers, other portable structures designed or used for residents, and so on. In each of these cases, landowners and occupiers of a property have a certain duty of care to individuals on their property.
These considerations can be complex, so when determining the duty of care in Toronto premises liability cases and the role it has in damage recovery, it is important to contact an accomplished premises liability lawyer.
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Defining Duty of Care
Not just the property owner but anyone deemed an “occupier,” has a certain duty of care to individuals on their property. An occupier includes anyone who has care or control of the premises and includes a person that permits an activity to occur on the premises. Any occupier will ultimately owe a duty of care. The duty of care owed is the duty take reasonable care to see that anyone entering onto premises is reasonably safe while they are the property.
This imposes on occupiers an affirmative duty to make a property reasonably safe. So a person actually has to take positive steps to satisfy this duty and ensure that a property is reasonably safe.
Ignorance is not an excuse at law. If a property owner is deemed an occupier, has care and control over a property, then under Toronto premises liability law, they will owe a duty of care to individuals entering onto that property. Ignorance will not save a property owner or occupier from that regulation.
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Classifications of Visitor’s Impact on the Duty of Care
Anyone entering onto the property without the permission of the occupier may be trespassing. Occupiers can utilize signs to show when entry is prohibited. Entry to certain types of rural property may be prohibited even without the use of signs. The Occupier’s Liability Act sets out the basic duty of care that an occupier owes to a user of their property, and it also sets out when the duty of care does not apply.
The basic duty of care in Toronto premises liability cases does not apply to people who enter onto a property for criminal purposes. These individuals are deemed by the Act to have assumed all risks. So in such a case, the occupier only owes a duty to the person not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person and not to have a reckless disregard of the presence of the person on a property.
The basic duty of care also does not apply to entrants to specific types of property as defined by the Act like rural property, golf courses when not open for play, recreational trails etc. For these types of property, when entering these properties, someone will have been deemed to assume all risks associated with the property and if injured on these properties, they will have to show deliberate intent/reckless disregard for their safety in order to succeed.
An invitation can be verbal, in writing or implied. Permission to enter onto a private property is implied in many instances. During daylight hours, if is a pathway to a front door on a private property and there are no warning signs or restrictions to indicate an entrant is trespassing then there is implied permission for people to enter. Otherwise, a mailman would not be able to walk onto a person’s property and deliver the mail. Implied permission can be revoked at any time by a land owner if an entrant is told to leave.
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Trespassing is defined as the unlawful entry onto the private land of another, it also includes the performance of an unlawful activity on the land and refusing to leave when told to do so. A trespasser requires a different duty of care in a Toronto premises liability case, and this standard can best be explained by an experienced premises liability lawyer when cases begin.