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How slip-and-fall lawsuit rules could change in Ontario

July 10, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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Defending personal injury claims arising from slips and falls on ice could become easier for your Ontario clients this winter, based on a proposed change to the province’s deadline for serving notice about starting such lawsuits.

In Ontario, plaintiffs wanting to sue for personal injuries normally have two years after an accident to start a lawsuit. But if Bill 118 is passed into law, plaintiffs would have only 10 days to give defendants’ notice of slip-and-fall claims caused by snow and ice, Progressive Conservative MPP Norman Miller told the legislature before it recessed for the summer.

The controversial private member’s bill was referred June 6 to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. No date of hearings has been announced. The committee is unlikely to convene before the legislature resumes sitting this fall.

Miller sponsored Bill 118, which would change the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

He told the legislature he has heard from a snow removal contractor who had difficulty getting insurance when that contractor told his insurance company he had a contract for snow removal at the local hospital.

“In many cases, as soon as there is compensation involved for clearing snow, a company’s premiums increase significantly,” said Miller, MPP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, a largely rural riding on the east side of Georgian Bay between Orillia and North Bay. “This comes from the insurance company’s fear of having to cover potential lawsuits as far as one or even two years into the future.”

In some instances, a business owner may have no idea there was an accident until they get a letter warning of an impending lawsuit, Miller added. And this could come up to one year and 11 months after the alleged accident.

“A 10-day notice to serve is simply not an adequate time frame, especially for those who have been injured and may be dealing with doctors’ appointments and medical treatments,” countered Sara Singh, deputy leader of the opposition NDP on June 6 during second reading of Bill 118.

But the 10-day limitation period proposed in Bill 188 is not intended to give a plaintiff 10 days to file a statement of claim in court. Instead, it is intended to give a plaintiff 10 days to put a defendant on notice, said Doug Downey, PC MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

“The business may not have any idea that something had happened until they get served a notice,” said Downey, who made his comments in the legislature two weeks before he became attorney general. “This puts an undue burden on businesses to have to defend themselves against events for which witnesses may not recall the event clearly.”

A plaintiff who fails to notify a defendant within the 10-day time frame would still be able to proceed with their lawsuit if they convince the judge there is a “reasonable excuse” and the judge finds the defendant is not prejudiced in their defence.

Putting the defendant on notice earlier lets the defendant know that they need to preserve their records and evidence, said Downey.

Private member’s bills are often not passed into law, but MPPs on the government side of the house spoke generally in favour of Bill 118.

The opposition NDP has major concerns.

Most plaintiffs who get hurt after slipping and falling on snow or ice will probably not realize until it’s too late that the 10-day window is closing fast, said Tom Rakocevic, the NDP critic for Government Services and Consumer Protection.

“How is the customer who slips and falls in the parking lot of a strip mall supposed to find out the landlord’s name and address within the time frame?” said Rakocevic. “That information is not readily, and certainly not publicly, available, as in the case of municipalities, except to a small segment of industry insiders who work in real estate.”

If passed into law with no amendments, Bill 118 would add the following section to the Occupiers’ Liability Act:

“No action shall be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury caused by snow or ice against a person or persons listed in subsection (2) unless, within 10 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim, including the date, time and location of the occurrence, has been served on one or more of the persons listed in subsection (2).”

The persons listed in sub-section 2 would be an occupier, an independent contractor employed by the occupier or a landlord.

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17 Comments » for How slip-and-fall lawsuit rules could change in Ontario
  1. Judy Bell says:

    Get this passed!!!! This has been a joke in the past. Lawyers have benefited the most and the consumers are paying for it! We need to
    stop paying for people not using their head. Don’t wear high heels in an ice storm and expect to get rich when you slip and fall!

  2. Brenda Russell says:

    I agree with Judy, if there is true negligence the 10-day window won’t have any affect on the claimant submitting their lawsuit.

  3. Byron Yankou says:

    This bill should be passed to help curtail fraudulent slip and fall lawsuits.

    We regularly receive lawsuits just before the statute of limitations when both video footage, witnesses & memories have disappeared.

  4. Addison Liu says:

    Please past Bill 118. 10 days just to notify the occupier is not difficult. If it happens in a strip mall, just give the notice to the closest retail store. The store can provide the info of the property management or the landlord, or past the notice to the landlord. CCTV footage often gets erase in every two weeks. Evidence can have a better case to be preserved when the occupier gets the notice in 10 days.

  5. Christine Raine says:

    GET THIS PASSED!!! If you are truly hurt in a slip and fall due to true negligence then 10 days is more then enough time!

  6. Rosemary A Kennedy says:

    Pass the bill. 10 days is more than enough time. 2 years is way to long for any claim to be presented and encourages fraudulent claims and no evidence available. If you want to file a claim of anykind – 10 days is a lot time to do it in.

  7. Helmar Prent says:

    Why is the change only being applied to injury (slip and falls) caused by snow and ice? Defendants have the same problem when slip and falls occur due to uneven ground/pavement/sidewalks, potholes, slippery conditions, obstructions, etc. especially if there was construction in the area. In these cases the property owner does not have the opportunity to determine if the fall was caused by the negligence of others.

  8. Jjsmith says:

    I agree 100 percent. This is a great bill! If you really are hurt, 10 days is more than enough. Figure it out!

  9. Pass this bill. It’s about time some good ideas are made law

  10. Susan R.Martin says:

    Pass it! We don’t need another lotto game… Insurance companies are charging too much as it is. 10 days is more than enough time for legitimate injury, and it will offer timely evidence and witness statements for those who have in fact hurt themselves falling on ice and snow.

  11. Mary says:

    I agree pass the bill !!!! First off we live in Canada and are all aware of the weather conditions here.
    People need to start taking responsibility in regards to footwear and where they are walking, recognizing their surroundings rather then walking and texting/phone calls etc… Weather there is snow , ice, slush, wet grounds, potholes or uneven concrete !!!! We find that everywhere the change in weather creates these issues.
    What are contractor’s supposed to do hold their hands and guide everyone on and off the properties to ensure their safety. It’s time that the people start taking responsibility for their own negligence and stop blaming hard working companies trying to make an honest living, causing companies to be unable to get Insurance and “IF” they do get Insurance they are paying ridiculous amounts of money.
    These people do not realize that in the long run they aren’t only affecting costs for the contractor’s they are affecting increases for all of us because contractor’s will have no choice but to raise their rates for property services to the management companies which in turn they raise rental rates for store owners …. and guess what comes next… cost of goods goes up for all of us..
    I have heard of so many excellent Contractors turning in the towel as they cannot afford the cost of insurance and are just tired of these law suits. It’s a shame we are losing the good companies which actually were keeping us safe.
    Let’s stop and really look at the big picture!!! Who is profiting here? People who want to make easy money for their negligence and the lawyer’s who are actually taking advantage of both claimants & the public sector.

    • Sc says:

      Maybe you need to slip on black ice and break your arm in 3 places and have 2 surgeries on it to know what it feels like when a snow contract company doesn’t even come out on the snowy days! Trust me my winter boots have more then enough bottom soles to walk on our winter roads and streets! If your contractor is not keeping an eye on the property then that’s his fault. Trust me , I would like to have my own arm back , minus the steel rods and donor bone fused into it. So stop with your nonsense talk. This was totally unavoidable if they had of done their JOB! And that’s to keep us all safe . Trust me they get paid top dollar for this work.

  12. Im an independent snow removal provider, why are individuals or companies held liable for acts of God? We do not create Ice nor do we create the snow we are out there in the worst weather putting ourselves and our company on the line to make things safer, but then punished with insurance rates that put people out of business. In my opinion there is a lot of insurance scams that effects all citizens of Ontario and Canada. I had no claims and this renewal year 2020 my insurance liability for snow had a 62% increase, I ask this question what do you think would happen if you were my customer and I told you your services would cost you 62% more than last year, how long would I be in business? This should be illegal and its just wrong, please support Bill 118 thank you.

  13. Kole says:

    It’s Canada. Look where your walks it’s going to be snowy and slippery. This bill should have been passed years ago. Look where you are walking it’s not that hard. If we don’t show up for a day later that’s a different story but we can’t be everywhere at once. With insurance rates being upwards of $35-45k guys are now forced to take on more contracts to balance out the cost.


  14. Susan McKay says:

    These posts are all right… I just received a notice from Workers Comp Claims department that one of their employees were injured on my property (I am a homeowner) in Feb 2019 and I just got notice dated Feb 2020! How convenient! One year! I don’t even know why they were on my property??? My mail gets delivered to a post office box across the street. What were they doing on my property?

  15. Nigel says:

    Reading these posts i am very aggravated by some comments. I have a heart condition and need to walk everyday. As a senior i rely on people clearing walks so i can have my exercise . Each time before leaving i select footwear based on conditions . I am very careful bit when you step on clear ice under a dusting of snow im not sure what i am supposed to do. I have no problem ALWAYS clearing my walk and salting within hours of appearing. I fell tore up my knee dislocated my hip. Really curious how i am supposed to gather witness info and do anything in 10 days. Perhaps when you make comments about frauds you should consider those that truly will suffer because many are to lazy or cheap to care properly for your property.

  16. Corine Harris says:

    Especially in the winter season, slip and fall accident is a common phenomenon all over the globe. It can happen on slippery roads, slippery sidewalks, and so on. When you are a victim of a slip and fall accident, you can actually file for a slip and fall settlement. The settlement will depend on the circumstances of the incident. All incidents and cases may not be the same. That is why the settlement also varies from situation to situation. So, it is important to know about the average slip and fall settlement amount when you go for a settlement. You can also check more detailed information about those in Average Slip and Fall Settlement Amount in Canada

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