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Understanding premises liability: Who’s responsible after a fall?

When the weather turns unpleasant, as it often does in Ontario during the winter, there tends to be a corresponding increase in slip-and-fall accidents. While most such incidents are minor, many people are injured every year, and in every season, after a slip, trip or stumble. Sometimes no one is to blame for such an accident; however there are occasions when fault may lie with whoever is responsible for the property. This oft-misunderstood legal area is called premises liability.

Hazardous conditions can crop up on any property; work sites, public spaces, commercial facilities and private property are all places where slipping and tripping occur. Common hazards include uneven pavement or sidewalks, ice and snow, wet surfaces, low light levels and unsafe stairs and handrails. If an injury occurs to an individual because of an existing hazard, the owner or maintainer of the property may be responsible.

If a reasonable effort to mitigate the danger has been demonstrably made, the degree of liability may be reduced or eliminated. Likewise, if the injured party is proved to have been behaving in an unsafe manner, there may be reduced liability. For example, running in an area that is clearly covered in ice places an increased degree of responsibility for an accident and injury on the injured party, even if the person responsible for the property should have cleared the ice.

Injuries suffered even from seemingly minor accidents can have major consequences. Anyone who believes his or her injury is the result of someone else’s negligence should contact a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer who thoroughly understands premises liability in Ontario may be able to help an injured party receive the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: FindLaw Canada, “Slip-and-Fall Liability“, Jan. 14, 2017

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