People injured in slip and fall accidents in Ontario will soon need to think about legal action a lot sooner after their accident than they ever have in the past thanks to changes coming to the law that have significantly shortened the time within which to provide notice of a claim. Previously, a victim of an injury due to slip and fall on private property had two years to give notice and commence a claim against a property owner for their injury. However, Ontario’s Bill 118, an Act to amend the Occupier’s Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. O.2 which recently passed and will soon become a law, provides that accident victims who slip and fall on private property must serve the owner of the property with written notice of the intention to commence a claim within 60 days.
The Bill, which received Royal Assent in early December 2020, provides that no action will be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury caused by snow or ice as against an occupier or independent contractor employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice unless, within 60 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim is served. Although this requirement is not as onerous as the notice requirements under the Municipal Act, which prevents injured parties from suing a municipality unless a notice letter is served on the municipality within ten days of the incident, the time frame being imposed may still be difficult for some injured victims to meet. This period of time may be too short for an accident victim to know the full extent of their injuries and may be too short for an accident victim to identify all of the parties that need to be put on notice. Under the changes, failure to give 60 days’ notice is not a bar to an action in the case of the death of an injured person as a result of the injury, or where a Judge is satisfied that the injured victim has a reasonable excuse for the lack of or insufficiency of notice given and that the defendants are not prejudiced by the lack of notice.
If you, a friend or a loved one does happen to slip and fall on private property and suffers injuries as a result of snowy or icy conditions, it is best to take note of the date and time, the address of the fall and, if able, photos of the area at the time of the fall and of your footwear. Ideally, the accident should then be reported as soon as possible. As it may be difficult to determine who the potential defendants may be, it is also important to contact a personal injury lawyer to help guide you through this process.
Written by Kimberly Jossul