An occupiers’ liability claim in Ontario most typically is filed against a property owner or occupier who was somehow negligent in preventing injuries on his or her property. Such claims commonly arise from incidents such as a slip and fall on icy stairs, or a trip and fall on uneven ground or pot hole. A successful claim may result in compensation that addresses pain and suffering, medical costs and missed income.
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The Occupiers’ Liability Act: The Framework for a Claim
Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act was established in 1990 and serves as the basis of all occupiers’ liability claims in the province.
The Act outlines such crucial aspects as:
- who may be considered an occupier for the purposes of liability (this would be the defendant in an occupiers’ liability claim);
- the definition of a premises;
- a definition of an occupier’s duty to maintain a reasonably safe premises;
- exceptions to an occupier’s liability (such as in the case of trespassing or an injury that occurs during the pursuit of a criminal activity);
- how special contracts may or may not affect liability; and
- a landlord’s obligation as an occupier.
The Act also calls for occupiers to take steps to inform the public of potential dangers in cases where the occupier otherwise enjoys exemptions to the duty of care.
Common Hazards that May Lead to an Accident and Injury Claim
Provincial law requires owners and occupiers to maintain reasonably safe properties on features like:
- private parking lots;
- driveways; and
Among the many hazards that can arise on a property, some are more likely to cause an accident, such as a slip/trip and fall.
Common hazards include:
- accumulated ice and snow;
- uneven surfaces (such as a crack in a walkway or a pothole in a parking lot);
- poor lighting (making it difficult for guests to spot potential trip/slip hazards);
- slip hazards (such as an improperly mopped or waxed floor, spilled liquids that have not been cleaned);
- tripping hazards (such as loose debris in a walkway);
- sudden, unmarked changes in elevation (such as a step down);
- stairways with broken steps and/or missing handrails; and
- inadequate safety measures (such as a failure to install gripping material to a slippery tile floor).
An occupier is legally obligated to take reasonable measures to discover and remedy such hazards. At the very least, occupiers are required to warn the public of any danger, such as with the use of a “Caution – Wet Floor” sign. However, the use of such warnings may not absolve a property owner of his or her liability in the event of an injury.
Who is liable in an occupiers’ liability claim?
An occupiers’ liability claim may be brought against any number of parties, including:
- a landlord;
- store owner;
- hotel owner/property manager;
- restaurant owner; and
- private homeowner.
A thorough claim should include all liable parties. Compensation may include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and more. Discuss liability as well as recoverable damages specific to your case with a lawyer at Preszler Injury Lawyers. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® or set up your consultation via our online contact form.