Personal Injury Lawyers

With Home Ownership Comes Responsibility; Slips and Falls on Private Property

An overnight snowfall may mean that you will need to set the alarm earlier or you may have to be a bit late for work while you take the time to shovel and sand the sidewalk and driveway. The extra 15 to 20 minutes it takes, even though it is an inconvenience, could make the difference in preventing someone from slipping and falling and possibly getting seriously hurt.

Homeownership comes with responsibilities. Not only do we need to pay the bills, keep up with the house repairs, we also have a responsibility as good citizens, and according to the law, to clear the snow from our sidewalks, walkways and driveway.

The term ‘reasonably safe’ is often the topic of lively discussion at dinner parties and in legal circles. The Ontario Occupier’s Liability Act declares that the property’s occupier is legally obligated to keep the premises or property reasonably safe for everyone who enters on to the property. In the case of a private residence, the occupants have an obligation to clear the private sidewalk and driveway of snow and ice within a reasonable period of time. In Toronto, the relevant by-law requires action to be taken to clear the abutting municipal sidewalk of snow within 12 hours from the end of the snowfall or rainfall, but the timeframe varies by municipality. It is important to understand that it is settled law in Ontario that an abutting property owner cannot be held civilly liable to a third party for a breach of municipal by-law requiring a homeowner to clear the city sidewalk of snow and ice.

However, the statutory duty imposed by the Occupiers Liability Act requires a private homeowner to clear their private driveway and walkway to ensure the safety of mail and newspaper carriers, house guests and sales people and other people who may enter onto the property.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to the term ‘private property’ and the obligations of the homeowner or occupying tenant. In actual fact, when a serious injury occurs, the victim often faces a series of financial and physical challenges resulting from the injury and if the accident occurs on your property, you may be legally responsible.

If you or a loved one is the victim of a slip and fall on private property, such claims require the expertise of a personal injury lawyer who can expertly demonstrate that the injured person’s safety was compromised by unsafe conditions and liability should be imposed under the Occupiers Liability Act. A victim may face ridicule or dismissive actions by insurers in an attempt to down play or negate the seriousness of the accident. Without experienced legal representation, even what appears to be a simple cut-and-dry case, could actually be dismissed. We at Futerman Partners LLP have been successfully handling slip and fall personal injury cases for over 35 years. Call us today for a free no-obligation consultation. 416-925-4100.