Accidents caused by inclement weather happen each winter throughout the province of Ontario. Slip and fall accidents on inadequately cleared snow or ice outside commercial or residential properties can have disastrous consequences. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, injuries sustained in falls caused by snow and ice can range in severity from mild bruising to permanent disabilities.
Many winter-weather slip and fall accidents are the result of another party’s negligence. If a property owner or their hired independent contractor failed to adequately remove hazardous ice or snow on their property and someone was injured as a result, the injured party has two years from the date of their accident to take legal action to recover damages resulting from their injuries.
However, in early December 2020, Ontario’s Bill 118 received Royal Assent, enacting the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act. Now, in accordance with this new amendment to the law, 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 during the two-year limitation period.
According to the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, in order bring action to recover damages for injuries caused by snow or ice, a person’s notice of claim must:
- Be submitted in writing to either the property’s occupier, the independent contractor overseeing the premises’ snow removal, or both
- Include the date, time, and location of their accident
- Be delivered in-person or by registered mail within 60 days of their accident
Just because notice is now required within 60 days of an injury-causing accident does not mean the injured party has only 60 days to bring action against the occupier. As long as the person who was injured by ice or snow gives the negligent party proper written notice within the mandated 60 days following their accident, they can pursue action at a later date, within the regular two-year limitation period. However, a failure to provide notice to either the occupier or their contractor overseeing snow and ice removal within 60 days may disallow the injured party to pursue a claim altogether.
Exceptions to this new rule may be made in cases of injuries resulting in death, or when a court determines that an accident victim had a reasonable excuse for failing to give notice within the newly mandated time period, and there is no prejudice to the defendant.
If you’ve been injured this winter in a slip and fall accident caused by improperly cleared ice or snow, the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act may significantly impact the time you have to act. Even if you’re unsure if another party’s negligence ultimately caused your accident, you can still discuss the circumstances of your case with an Ontario slip and fall accident lawyer today, to determine if you might be eligible to pursue financial compensation for your injuries.
Reasons for the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act
By shortening the amount of time an injured accident victim has to bring notice of action against an occupier for personal injury damages caused by snow or ice, the occupier in question may be able to react relatively quickly. First and foremost, alerting occupiers to injuries sustained on their premises in the weeks immediately following an accident gives them a chance to remove hazards on their premises, or to address any performance issues with their snow removal service in a timely manner. Doing so might prevent future accidents and injuries during the winter season.
The government of Ontario alleges that this amendment to the Occupiers’ Liability Act may result in higher degrees of accuracy in personal injury claims for accidents caused by ice or snow. Oftentimes, if claimants wait a substantial period of time to bring action against an occupier, the evidence available for the occupier or contractor is lost or has the potential to “go stale.” The legislation only prejudices victims. It is a windfall for contractors, occupiers and insurance companies.
Who is Considered “An Occupier?”
The Occupiers’ Liability Act defines an “occupier” as someone who:
- Is in physical possession of premises, or:
- Has responsibility over the condition of the premises or its activities, or controls who is allowed to enter the premises
According to this definition, an occupier could be a building’s landlord, property manager, tenant, or other individual who oversees the property.
In accordance with the new amendment to the Occupiers’ Liability Act, in order to successfully bring forth a claim for personal injury damages caused by ice or snow, a claimant has a 60-day window to provide written notice to either the occupier, the independent contractor hired by the occupier to oversee snow and ice removal, or both of these parties. Once the notice is given to at least one party, it is effective against all parties involved.
If only one party receives a claimant’s written notice of their intention to recover damages through legal action, they will be required to deliver a copy to all of the premises’ other occupiers (if any), and the contractor they employ to remove snow and ice.
What To Do if You’ve Been Injured by Snow or Ice
Now that injured accident victims have only a short window of opportunity to notify occupiers, in the days following a slip and fall accident caused by ice or snow, time is truly of the essence. If you’ve sustained serious injuries due to inclement winter weather, it would be advisable to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
It can be difficult to know what steps to take following a slip and fall accident. Seeking immediate medical attention could be critical, even if you don’t feel like you’ve sustained a serious injury. After an accident, the effects of shock could delay or diminish symptoms of severe injuries. Failing to properly assess the full scope of injuries sustained could lead to complications later in the recovery process.
Furthermore, if you’re able to do so, taking some simple actions in the moments following an accident might be beneficial for any legal action in the future. These actions include:
- Taking photos of the accident scene
- Collecting contact information from any eyewitnesses to the accident
- Recording notes about the time and weather conditions while they’re fresh in your mind
- Submitting an incident report to the property’s management
- Documenting your injuries
- Keeping accurate records of any medical assessments, appointments, and treatments
- Tracking any lost income as a result of your injuries, including medical expenses and missed work
By properly documenting your slip and fall in the days immediately following your accident on ice or snow, you may be able compile sufficient evidence to prove another party’s negligence, and to quantify the extent of damages you incurred, if your claim is refuted by the occupier.
Contact Preszler Injury Lawyers Today
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident caused by snow or ice on someone else’s property, there is no time to waste. The Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act will substantially reduce the amount of time an injured claimant has to begin taking action. To discuss the circumstances of your accident and see if you’re eligible to recover financial compensation for damages resulting from your injuries, call Preszler Injury Lawyers as soon as possible.
For a free, initial consultation, call Preszler Injury Lawyers today at 1-800-JUSTICE.