Slip and fall injury victims and others injured on another’s property often wonder who is responsible for their accident and injuries. The Occupiers’ Liability Act of Ontario outlines who is liable in slip and falls – and other accidents – that occur on someone else’s property.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act and associated laws outline a property owner’s duty of care. The most important aspect of the act states: An occupier (such as a business or property owner) owes those entering the property a duty to see that they are kept reasonably safe while on premises.
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When and how does the duty of care come into play?
The duty of care applies whether the hazard is caused by the condition of the property (such as an ice-covered walkway or broken step) or an activity that occurs on the property (such as event that could be dangerous).
A property owner may be relieved of some degree of duty if a visitor knowingly participates in a risky activity while on premises. However, the owner still has the responsibility to keep the property free of hazards.
Putting the Duty of Care into Action
How does the duty of care impact a property owner’s actions?
Below are a few examples of how an owner/occupier could fulfill his or her duty of care:
- posting sufficient signs to warn of hazards, such as “Slippery Floor” signs on a freshly mopped or waxed surface, or “Step Down” on a sloping surface;
- repairing or remedying dangerous property conditions, such as a leaky roof, broken stairs and cracked walkways;
- removing snow and ice from accessible walkways, sidewalks and parking lots;
- installing safety features such as high-traction flooring, outdoor and indoor lighting, non-slip rugs, security cameras, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and stairway railings;
- hiring qualified builders and contractors to update, build and maintain safe premises;
- routinely inspecting property for new hazards;
- training staff on proper protocol for maintaining a safe property; and
- responding to known hazards in a timely fashion and prohibiting public access to unsafe areas.
Failure to adhere to the above guidelines may constitute a breach of the duty of care. This, in turn, would signify liability in the event of an accident or injury on premises. A lawyer can help prove negligence in an accident claim by providing evidence of the breach of duty. Evidence might include photographs of hazards, property maintenance records and witness testimony.
Special Considerations of the Duty of Care for Property Owners
Additional contracts and regulations may impact an owner’s duty. A lawyer may best explain these aspects of the Occupiers’ Liability Act on a case-by-case basis.
Have you been seriously injured in a slip and fall or similar accident on someone else’s property in Ontario? Schedule a free case evaluation with an injury lawyer at Preszler Law — call 1-800-JUSTICE® or complete our online case evaluation form.