As an Ontarian, you may know that you have 2 years to bring a lawsuit after a fall. You may also know that a 10-day notice must be given to the City if a fall was on the property owned by the City. However, from now on, one more number you may need to know is that there is a new 60-day notice after a fall on snow or ice. A new rule that was just released on December 8, 2020 is that within 60 days of a fall due to snow or ice, notice must be given to a private property owner or their snow removal contractors. How will this new rule affect us? This article will give you some ideas.
Assume you unfortunately slipped and fell on snow or ice in a shopping plaza in February of 2021. What should you do under the new rule? Under Section 6 (1) of Occupiers’ Liability Act, you will have to do the following within 60 days from the occurrence:
- Take care of your injuries and see your doctors.
- Find out who was the owner of the property.
- Research the name and address of the owner.
- Send to the owner a notice letter which includes the date, time, location of the occurrence.
- The notice letter should be personally served or sent by registered mail.
If you fail to give your notice within 60 days, you may be prevented from bringing a lawsuit unless in the case of death from the injuries or you can prove to the Judge at trial that you have a good reason for the delay.
You might think the 60-day notice period is too short to complete all these steps. Why not 120 days or 180 days? The legal community raised the concerns and suggested 120 days when the private member’s Bill originally proposed a 10-day notice.
Here is some background to better understand the new rule. The private member’s Bill was to address the concerns of private property owners and their snow removal contractors to be able to respond to potential claims in a timely manner and protect themselves from liability. Assuming you were a landlord prior to the new rule, one day when you came back home, you opened your mail and received a notice of claim against you from a person who fell on your property almost 2 years ago. You might be shocked to be sued by a person you had never met before. And you might end up hiring a lawyer to defend you and having to pay higher property insurance premiums. The new rule of early notice is to balance the rights of property owners and the right of injured victims.
So, what should you do if you suffer a fall? Here is my advice. No matter how you feel about your injuries, make sure that you do the following immediately after a fall:
- Take a picture of the location and cause of the fall.
- Ask for help from people who witnessed your fall and get their contact information.
- Call your friends/family to pick you up and send you to the nearest hospital or your family doctor or call an ambulance.
- Consult a personal injury lawyer for advice (Keep in mind: a 10-day notice to City and a 60-day notice to private owners if a fall on snow or ice.) Do not wait!