Under Ontario’s Municipal Act, the government is responsible for public spaces, such as roads, highways, bridges, parks, and public services, such as public transport, police force, and firefighters. As such, local authorities owe civilians a duty of care and should ensure that these public accommodations and services will not cause undue property damage or personal injuries.
However, public liability stops when the local government can prove that the failure to maintain a road is because of a policy, i.e., delayed maintenance due to lack of funding.
Currently, municipalities held only partially at fault are often nonetheless left to pay 100% of a damages award and then pursue their co-defendants for the co-defendant's share.
Recently, in Nelson (City) v. Marchi, the Supreme Court of Canada was called on to address whether or not, when, and how (absent legislative reform) governments can be held liable in negligence for the consequences of the decisions they make.
The Court held that neither government authorities nor contractors should assume that, where a claimant makes a terribly bad decision that causes him or her injury or damage, they will face no liability. Rather, unless it can be said that the claimant knowingly waived the claim, the claimant’s contribution to the loss will have to be weighed with the contributions of others.
The team at JEWELL RADIMISIS JORGE LLP. strongly encourages all Ontarians to engage in safe practices this winter season.If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip and fall on city property, you may be entitled to receive the help you deserve. Contact us at (800) 715-1082 and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.