Miles Obradovich for The Lawyers Weekly
Slips, trips and falls are a major cause of injury which can result in a minor bruise or strain to a fracture of an arm or leg or even a severe head injury. It does not take much to trip a person. A sudden change in height of a smooth walking surface will be enough to do it. Falls can also result from:
- Wet surfaces
- Loose carpeting
- Stairs of uneven rise
- Poor lighting
- The presence of loose objects or
- Unexpected dangers
In Canada, responsibility for these injuries will often rest with the occupier of the premises where the dangerous condition existed. In this context an occupier is not restricted to an owner of the premises but includes a tenant, a person in physical possession of the premises or other person having control of the premises or the activities being carried on there. Additionally those people responsible for maintaining or repairing the premises owe a duty of care to the users of the property.
In some jurisdictions in Canada the duty of care has been expanded and codified by legislation. The duty of care requires the occupier to take such care as in all the circumstances is reasonable to see that persons entering onto the premises are reasonably safe. This duty of care extends to both the condition of and activities being carried on the premises.
Determining whether there has been a breach of the duty to make the premises safe involves an analysis of each specific situation and may not depend upon customary practices. For these reasons it is vital for those sustaining serious injuries to consult with a personal injury lawyer to determine their right to redress and compensation. In Canada, these cases are frequently decided by expert and scientific evidence which demonstrate the unusual dangers of the premises or departure from expected norms of maintenance or provision of warnings.
The foundation for liability on the part of the occupier in these cases can arise through the failure to:
- Have a system of inspection
- Have a system of appropriate maintenance
- Warn of a hazardous situation or correct a known danger
Generally speaking, in Canada, occupiers are not insurers required to compensate any injury but are required to take reasonable precautions for the users of their premises. The existence of this duty does not excuse users from taking care to protect the safety of their own person. While failure to do so will not excuse the occupier from liability, it may result in an apportionment of fault reducing proportionately the damages that may be awarded in such a claim.
In Canada, can a slip and fall case be won?
In Canada, success in these cases will often depend upon accurate identification of the reason for the fall either through eye witness testimony, photographs or other documentary evidence. Preservation of this information is particularly vital in those cases involving a transient condition such as a spilled liquid, item of produce or presence of ice. Other defects in premises which are of a more permanent nature such as an uneven surface or other deficiency in construction may be shown by subsequent engineering inspection.
Particular care must also be taken where the owner or occupier of the premises is a governmental or municipal authority as special notice and limitation periods may apply. In this situation immediate consultation with a personal injury lawyer is necessary in order to ensure that your rights are protected.
In Canada, these claims have generally not been affected by tort reform and restriction on the right to recover damages. The injured person usually has the right to recover compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- Loss of the amenities of life
- All income losses and compensation for any losses of earning capacity which includes all losses of future income, loss of financial opportunity and competitive advantages
- Loss of housekeeping and home maintenance capacity including any associated expenses
- Past and future medical
- Rehabilitation and care costs and
- Any other out of pocket expenses
Additionally, in Canada spouses and other family members are able to claim for losses of care, guidance and companionship as well as compensation for provision of services caused by the injury and any other financial losses.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer
The early involvement of a personal injury lawyer by the injured person will often make the difference between a case that fails through lack of sufficient proof of the facts necessary to prove liability from one that results in complete compensation for the damages and losses caused by the injury.
Miles Obradovich is a lawyer at Obradovich Law in Toronto, Ontario. He can be reached by e-mail.
A great way to start your search for a local Canadian Personal Injury lawyer is at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. Go to the 'Find a Lawyer' search box that appears on the right hand side of this screen to start your lawyer search. Type in Personal Injury or the name of the law firm, the city and the province that you are looking to hire a lawyer from, and click on the 'Search Now' button. This will generate a list of local Canadian Personal Injury lawyers.