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Hurt in a Slip and Fall: When Is the City Responsible for Your Injury?

Picture of a person getting down on icy steps

A slip and fall can happen anywhere. If you are hurt on municipal property, the city may be responsible for your injuries. There are different rules for giving notice to the city and different laws when it comes to proving liability against the city if you slip and fall on a municipal sidewalk. Read on for general information about suing the city after a slip and fall. If you want to discuss the unique facts of your case, reach out to our personal injury law firm (Lindsay and Oshawa) today.

Did you fall on municipal property or private property?

If you were hurt on city property (formally referred to as municipal property) as opposed to privately owned property, very different rules and laws would apply to your case. So, the first step after getting medical attention is determining whether you were hurt on a city or private property. It is so important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help you make that determination.

Why does it matter if it was private or city property?

If your slip and fall took place on city property, you must give proper notice of your claim and of the injury you sustained. According to Ontario’s Municipal Act, the notice must be in writing and include the date, time and location of the occurrence. It must be served on the clerk of the municipality within ten days of the incident. That is a very tight timeline. For comparison, if your slip and fall was on private property, you have 60 days to provide notice to the property owner, occupier and snow removal company.

What happens if the 10-day notice deadline is missed?

You may not be sure if your injuries are serious or permanent. Even so, you must serve proper notice on the municipality in accordance with the Municipal Act. If you miss the 10-day deadline, your claim may be statute-barred, which means that you lose the right to sue for compensation from the city.

There are a few narrow exceptions to the notice requirement. Failure to give proper notice does not bar a lawsuit if the slip and fall victim died as a result of their injuries. The Municipal Act also says that failure to give notice is not a bar to the action if a judge finds that there is a reasonable excuse for the failure and that the municipality has not been prejudiced in its defence. Ignorance of the 10-day notice requirement is not an excuse.

As mentioned, our Oshawa and Lindsay slip and fall lawyers can help you determine if you were hurt on municipal property and make sure that you provide proper notice that complies with Ontario legislation. If there is any doubt about who owns the property, we recommend serving notice on both the municipality and the private property owner. This will ensure that your rights are preserved. You can reassess your case as new information is gathered. A personal injury lawyer can help you investigate the property ownership aspect of your claim.

What else do you need to know about suing the city after a slip and fall?

The other major point to be aware of is that liability laws are different for the city-owned property than privately owned property. Ontario’s Municipal Act says that a municipality is not liable for a personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk except in a case where the municipality did not comply with the Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS). If you slipped and fell on a snowy or icy city sidewalk, that means you bear the burden of proving the municipality was not in compliance with the MMS. For comparison, if your slip and fall were on private property, the owner/occupier can be found liable if their property was not reasonably safe for pedestrian traffic.

Don’t let the Minimum Maintenance Standards stop you from pursuing your claim against the municipality. Ontario courts have held municipalities responsible for injuries caused by snow or ice on city sidewalks. If a city permits a slippery, icy sidewalk in a busy area to remain unprotected or ignores it altogether, and you are injured, you may have a claim for negligence against the municipality. A personal injury lawyer can explain the legal threshold and gather evidence to prove negligence against the municipality.

Get advice from an experienced slip and fall lawyer in Oshawa and Lindsay

Kelly Greenway Bruce lawyers are here to assist you if you have been hurt in a municipal slip and fall. Our team of slip and fall lawyers will help determine if your injury occurred on city property, ensure that your legal rights are preserved, and get you fair compensation for pain and suffering, wage loss, medical bills, and more.

It’s important to connect with our personal injury law firm (Lindsay and Oshawa) immediately after receiving the necessary medical attention. Failure to meet the strict slip and fall notice requirements can be fatal to your personal injury claim. Contact our dedicated team for a free initial consultation today.


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