What is a “Slip and Fall” or “Trip and Fall”?
In law, the term “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” can refer to many types of common incidents including slipping on ice, tripping on an uneven sidewalks, slipping on a spill in a grocery store, or tripping on construction debris to name a few examples.
Duties of Property Owners
Owners of properties, whether businesses or individuals, are legally obligated to take reasonable precautions to ensure that their properties are reasonably safe and hazard-free for visitors and occupants. These duties are enshrined in the Occupiers Liability Act.
Because these types of incidents are unfortunately common, business owners usually carry insurance to cover losses incurred by those who injure themselves due to a poorly maintained property or where hazards have not been effectively marked. Commercial properties, including shopping malls, grocery stores and offices are often covered by a Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policy. The risk of someone being injured on a commercial property is said to be a risk inherent in conducting business, and is therefore covered by a CGL.
Most individuals also carry liability insurance for slip and fall accidents through their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Such insurance would covers losses caused by an incident that arises because a home is poorly maintained or unsafe for visitors or because the policy owner caused an accident through his or her own negligence.
Commencing an Action In Negligence: Requirements and Time Limits
At common law, where a person is injured due to an owner’s failure to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their property is safe, he or she may commence a lawsuit in negligence. The lawsuit will generally name the owner and/or occupier of the property as the defendant. However, CGLs and homeowners’ policies stipulate that the insurance company will hire a lawyer to provide a defence for the owner or occupier in the event that an action is commenced.
To pursue civil action in negligence, you must generally file a Statement of Claim within two years of the accident that gave rise to your injury. It is advisable to see a lawyer as early on as possible in order to protect your rights and to ensure that all supporting documentation is gathered and collected in a timely manner.
Actions in Negligence Against Municipalities
Sometimes people injure themselves on municipal property, including sidewalks. In this case, the municipality will be the defendant in a civil action.
If you are injured on municipal property, you must promptly provide notice of your injury. The Municipal Act bars a person from suing a municipality where the city has not been provided with proper notice of the incident, which is usually within 10 days. While judges have the power to allow an action to continue where there is good reason for the delay in providing notice, it is always prudent to protect your rights absolutely. It is therefore imperative that you contact a lawyer before the expiry of the 10 day period in order that the appropriate notice can be provided to the municipality.
Municipalities are covered by insurance policies known as Public Sector Liability Insurance policies. Similar to CGLs, these type of policies protect the defendant with legal representation when a person commences a claim in negligence against a municipality.
A personal injury lawyer
in Petrolia or Sarnia will be able to assess your claim. Call us for your fee consultation at Bildfell Fall at 519-339-0440.