Occupiers’ Liability: Homeowners & Unsafe Premises
The rules for homeowners’ legal liability in regards to personal injuries are covered in Occupiers’ Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter O.2. The law provides that when someone is injured on another person’s property, he or she may be able to file a premises liability claim to obtain compensation for damages.
An “occupier,” according to Ontario law, is defined as:
- A person who is in physical possession of premises
- A person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises or the activities there carried on or control over persons allowed to enter the premises
When someone suffers an injury on a homeowner’s property, the party that is legally responsible can vary. It may be the owner, caretaker, tenants or a combination, depending upon the circumstances. An occupiers’ liability lawyer can help claimants determine liability.
Occupiers have a legal obligation to ensure their property is reasonably safe so as not to endanger others’ safety. The statutes explain that the occupier “owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.”
Common Hazards in Homeowners’ Liability Claims
Victims are injured in myriad ways on others’ property, sometimes as a result of their own carelessness, other times as a result of the homeowner’s carelessness.
Some of the common hazardous conditions in homeowners’ liability claims include:
- Unprotected swimming pools
- Broken railing on stairwells
- Ice and snow on porches and walkways
- Flooring issues (wet floors, broken tile, loose carpet, etc.)
- Poor lighting
- Objects in walking path (boxes in the hallway)
- Trampoline dangers
Determining Eligibility for an Occupiers’ Liability Claim
Not every injury that occurs on another’s premises qualifies for a liability claim. When determining whether or not a homeowner can be legally responsible for victims’ injuries, some of the factors that must be considered include whether or not:
- The owner was aware of the hazard
- The danger was foreseeable
- The owner had a reasonable matter of time to tend to the hazard
- The owner acted in a reasonable manner to take care of or prevent the hazard
In order to prove a claim successfully, you and your lawyer will need to be able to demonstrate that the occupier knew or should have known about the hazard and failed to take care of it.
Compensable Damages on a Liability Claim
If you are eligible to file an occupiers’ liability claim, there are several types of damages for which you might be reimbursed.
Compensable damages include:
- Medical bills
- Disability and disfigurement
- Lost wages
- Future medical and rehabilitative expenses
- Housekeeping and homemaking services
- Pain and suffering