Wintertime in Ontario can be treacherous. Improperly cleared snow and ice outside private properties or on public sidewalks can create hazardous walking conditions. When unsuspecting people encounter a patch of slick black ice or uneven snow, it’s easy to slip and fall.
While many people may walk away from slip and fall accidents with minor bruises, these situations can lead to serious injuries. In fact, unintentional falls are the most common cause of injuries requiring hospitalization in Canada. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, including the person’s age and medical history, injuries sustained in wintertime slip and fall accidents can significantly impact a person’s life, as well as their livelihood.
Examples of serious injuries that could be sustained in a slip and fall accident caused by snow or ice include:
- Head injuries: A blow to the head or a forceful jolt can cause concussions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These serious conditions may occur when the force of impact causes a slip and fall accident victim’s brain collides with their skull. If you begin to experience symptoms after a slip and fall accident, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, headaches, loss of memory, and more.
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries: The involuntary force of a fall and impact with the ground may result in spinal cord injuries, which could seriously impact an accident victim’s mobility. These injuries could result in complete or partial paralysis. Other neck and back injuries that might result from a slip and fall accident include fractured vertebrae, slipped or herniated discs, and chronic back pains.
- Shoulder dislocation and strains: Shoulder muscles that have been torn or strained during a slip and fall accident may cause accident victims to experience a limited range of motion, intense pains, and a prickling or burning sensation in their extremities. Often the cause of outstretching one’s arms to brace for the impact of a fall, dislocated shoulders may cause extreme pain which could impede an accident victim’s ability to perform routine activities.
- Soft tissue injuries: When accident victims sustain injuries to their muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues, they may not experience the full severity of the associated pain until several days, or even weeks, after the slip and fall. If soft tissue injuries are not treated promptly, they could lead to complicated medical conditions and chronic pains. After your accident, even if you don’t feel like you’re in substantial pain, seeking immediate medical attention might help prevent chronic pains in the future.
- Damaged extremities: Cuts, bruises, lacerations, abrasions, facial swelling, loss of teeth, broken or fractured bones, sprained wrists, twisted or sprained ankles, and other damage to any of the body’s extremities can result from wintertime slip and fall accidents.
- Knee injuries: Depending on how a person’s body makes contact with the ground and the force of impact involved in their slip and fall accident, they may experience a range of knee injuries, including fractures, dislocations, sprains, bursitis, meniscus tears, and more. Knee injuries are complex, and could require lengthy recovery periods. Depending on the severity of the injury and their rehabilitation progress, knee injuries sustained in slips and falls may leave accident victims relying on the use of an ambulatory assistive device, like a walker or a cane.
- Hip fractures: Among the most serious of the potential injuries a person may sustain in a slip and fall accident, hip fractures often require surgery, and prolonged periods of recovery. Depending on the accident victim’s age, breaking a hip can lead to loss of mobility, independence, and even a loss of life. Out of all Canadian seniors who receive surgery to treat a fractured hip, 30% die within one year following this medical procedure.
Despite the fact that many slip and fall accidents only cause negligible physical injuries, like minor bruising, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the medical condition of the victim, the fallout from these accidents can leave a lifelong impact. Slip and fall accidents can lead to permanent, debilitating injuries, and even fatalities.
If you’ve been injured by improperly cleared snow or ice, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the negligent party who caused this accident. Upon reviewing the details of your case, an Ontario slip and fall accident lawyer may be able to help you pursue compensation for damages you incurred as a result of your injuries.
Who is Most at Risk of Injury in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Senior citizens are at the greatest risk of being severely injured in a slip and fall accident.
Falls are far and away the leading cause of injury for seniors across the country. Owing to their advanced age and potential frailty, even accidents that might allow a younger person to walk away unharmed could seriously impact a senior’s quality of life. In Canada, 81% of seniors’ injuries requiring hospitalization were the result of a fall, and often have long-term or permanent repercussions.
95% of Canadian seniors’ hip fractures are the result of a fall. This statistic is especially troubling, given the severity of broken hips, and the medical procedures required to treat them. After receiving hip surgery to treat these injuries, many seniors over the age of 65 never walk again, and lose their ability to live independently. Even more seniors suffer fatalities due to complications following hip replacement surgery.
Who is Liable if You’re Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident?
According to the province’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, Ontario’s property owners/occupiers must exercise a reasonable duty of care to those visiting their premises. Property owners/occupiers are required to remove, repair, or adequately warn people about potential hazards on their premises. This includes ice, snow, and other weather-related dangers. Failing to identify and address possible slip and fall risks on their property could make owners and occupiers liable for accidents that occur as a result of this negligence.
With the assistance of a lawyer, people injured in slip and fall accidents may be able to recover compensation in the form of damages they incurred as a result of their injuries by filing a lawsuit against the negligent property owner/occupier.
To do so, a lawyer may be able to compile and present various forms of evidence, proving that negligence was the primary cause of their client’s injury-causing accident. This evidence might include:
- Video surveillance footage of the accident
- Photos of hazards at the accident site
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Weather records
- Police reports, or other incident reports
- And possibly more
If a slip and fall accident lawyer is able to prove that a property owner’s/occupier’s negligence caused their client’s accident, they may be eligible to receive financial compensation for the damages they incurred, including:
- Pain & Suffering
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Ongoing medical care/in-home care
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Adjusted living expenses
- And possibly more
How Preszler Injury Lawyers May Be Able to Help
In accordance with a recent amendment to the province’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, anyone injured by snow or ice must provide the negligent parties with a written notice of claim within 60 days of their accident in order to pursue legal action against them. This leaves injured accident victims only a very short timeframe in which to notify negligent property owners of their intention to pursue action.
If you’ve sustained serious injuries due to inclement winter weather, time is truly of the essence. In the days following your injury-causing accident, consider contacting a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances of your case and see if you’re eligible to recover financial compensation for damages.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers as soon as possible at 1-800-JUSTICE.