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Understanding the occupier's duty and premises liability

Slip-and-fall accidents are among the most common causes of personal injuries in Ontario. Should the incident occur on property owned by someone other than the victim, there could be cause for a lawsuit based on premises liability. The following information may help a person determine if he or she is has grounds for a claim based upon evidence of the occupier's negligence.

The occupier of a property could be the owner or other parties with control over its condition or usage. The property could be a piece of land or water, a building or structure, or even watercraft and moving vehicles. The occupier owes a duty of care to any person who sets foot on the premises, even if that person was not supposed to be there. 

Having a duty of care means that the occupier is responsible for keeping the premises safe. This may include keeping up general maintenance, clearing debris or removing snow and ice. Even if maintenance responsibilities have been passed on to an outside party, the occupier could still be liable if he or she did not show due care in hiring competent workers or did not oversee the work sufficiently.

Warning signage is often used to alert people to potential hazards. However, even a sign may not be enough. A vaguely worded sign may not adequately describe the danger, while hidden dangers require explicit warnings. Language can also cause a problem, as not everyone may easily understand words used in the signage.

Premises liability is a complicated area of Ontario personal injury law. Victims are often unaware of their rights after suffering an injury on another person's property. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the incident and assess if there is a case for compensation to be made.

Source: allontario.ca, "Personal Injury: Occupiers' Liability", Accessed on April 1, 2017

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