Notice Requirements for Slip and Fall Injuries
You have slipped and fallen on ice or snow and injured yourself. Now what?
Many clients call our office after falling and hurting themselves in a slip and fall incident and have no idea what to do next.
Unbeknownst to many individuals in this unfortunate position, the law regarding notice of a claim on privately owned property changed in 2020.
Section 6.1 under the Occupier’s Liability Act now states the following:
No action shall be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury caused by snow or ice against a person or persons listed in subsection (2) unless, within 60 days [emphasis added] after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim, including the date, time and location of the occurrence, has been personally served on or sent by registered mail to at least one person listed in subsection (2).
So, what does this mean to you? In simple terms, this rule requires you, or someone on your behalf, to give written notice within 60 days of your injury.
You must give the notice in writing (i.e., a letter) and it needs to include the date, approximate time, and location of the fall. Notice must be made by sending the letter by registered mail or by personally serving at least one of the following:
- An occupier/owner of the property; or
- A contractor responsible for the removal of snow or ice on the property during the time the fall occurred.
Failing to provide this notice might prevent you from recovering anything for your losses.
“But why 60 days?”
Many people get flustered by deadlines. However, this deadline can assist with preserving vital information which will become important as your claim moves forward. Contracts, witnesses, CCTV footage, and other pertinent evidence tends to get lost as time passes. Giving notice early hopefully means the occupier will have been able to preserve any information relevant to your fall.
“I didn’t know this, and I didn’t send a registered letter in time – does that mean I don’t have a claim?”
Absolutely not. In fact, the Act allows for some exceptions.
The first exception is in the tragic situation of where a slip and fall injury caused the accident victim’s death. The 60-day period does not apply in these cases; regardless of when notice is given (within the two-year limitation period) the claim will not be barred.
The second is a broader and less tested exception:
Failure to give notice in accordance with subsection (1) or insufficiency of the notice is not a bar to the action if a judge finds that there is reasonable excuse for the want or the insufficiency of the notice and that the defendant is not prejudiced in its defence.
The exemption above might be used if the individual did not know the physical mailing address of the occupier but sent notice in another manner (for example, by email). It might also apply if the injured person was in hospital for an extended period for injuries relating to the subject fall and did not have the capacity to provide written notice within the necessary time frame.
“What if I slipped and fell on city property?”
There is another exception to this 60-day rule, and that is for any slip and fall occurring on city or municipal property. Municipalities fall under a different statute: the Municipal Act. If you were injured on city property, you must first give notice in writing within 10 days. You must serve this notice by registered mail, or personally serve it to:
- The municipality clerk; or
- The city clerk of each municipality, if the claim is against two or more cities
Furthermore, you cannot bring a claim against the city for a slip and fall on snow or ice unless it was a case of gross negligence. The average person may not know if this test has been met within 10 days of sustaining an injury. In many scenarios, by the time injured accident survivors are ready to pursue compensation, the deadline for serving notice may have already lapsed. This can leave injured slips and fall accident survivors in the woeful position of being unable to recover anything for their injuries.
The bottom line:
Litigation for slip and fall injuries can be complicated! Your best option is to seek advice from a legal professional as soon as possible. Our Ontario slip and fall accident lawyers help clients navigate the notice period applicable to their situations and formulate personalized legal strategies to help them achieve the best possible outcomes.
To review the details of your case with our slip and fall accident lawyers serving Ontario, contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation.
This article was written by Julie Kern.