What’s Expected of the Plaintiff?
For such a seemingly straightforward event, a slip and fall causing serious injury can become incredibly complicated. Not only are you held to strict timelines in serving notice of your injuries in certain claims; satisfying the onus of proof – in civil cases based on a balance of probabilities – often requires a detailed and careful collection of evidence on your part. And, despite your suffering, your actions before, during and after the slip and fall may be put under the microscope.
Ontario’s Occupier’s Liability Act details the expectations and duties of care taken on by those who occupy or are responsible for a premises. But as in many areas dealing with negligence, the plaintiff (the injured person in a civil lawsuit) also carries some expectations.
Something as banal as footwear can be, in some cases, the difference between a successful and unsuccessful claim for the plaintiff. Sandals are ubiquitous in the summer, but they don’t remain confined to the beach. In an urban setting, they can easily catch on a stairwell or sidewalk, whether those surfaces were well maintained or not.
If the footwear is deemed inappropriate for the circumstances – like sandals in a rain storm or skateboard shoes in the dead of winter – and a contributing factor to a slip and fall injury, compensation can be lowered accordingly, as part of contributory negligence.
Similarly, someone not wearing their required glasses prior to a slip and fall could also find that compensation for injuries is reduced. The same could happen to someone running or behaving in an otherwise unreasonable or unsafe manner.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that a store owner or homeowner is not liable for negligence – say, in knowingly leaving a front step in disrepair for a long time – and that some compensation is not due. But it does highlight a certain level of responsibility on the part of the injured victim.
It is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following a slip and fall injury. A lawyer can help you collect evidence for your claim, meet pressing deadlines and obtain compensation for your serious injury. At Futerman Partners LLP, we have over 30 years experience handling the most complex slip and fall claims.