Bill 118 Makes Life Harder for Injury Victims

Earlier this year, the province of Ontario enacted Bill 118, the Act to amend the Occupier’s Liability Act. The legislation had meaningful consequences for victims of falls on ice and snow and the slip and fall lawyers who represent them. Months after its implementation, lawyers remain gravely concerned about the Bill’s potential consequences, particularly because its impacts won’t be fully understood until the winter. One lawyer who spoke to Canadian Lawyer magazine also expressed concern that the bill is indicative of a pattern that prioritizes business interests over citizen safety.

What are the Changes to Slip and Fall Laws?

As we discussed in a previous blog, Bill 118 changes the amount of time in which slip and fall accident victims must notify respondents of their intention to initiate legal action. Prior to the new legislation, accidents victims and their slip and fall lawyers were subject to a two-year time limit; today, they have just 60 days.

Here’s how the new rules are described in the bill:

“For a slip and fall on private property that is due to ice and snow, you must serve the owner/occupier with written notice of the fall, the time, the date, and the precise location within 60 days of the incident by personal service or by registered mail.”

The rules are different for accidents on municipal property, where the time limit is – and has been – just 10 days:

“For a slip and fall on municipal property, you must provide the city with written notice of the fall, the time, the date, and the location within 10 days of the incident by service on the City Clerk or by registered mail.”

Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?

There are two notable exceptions to the new 60-day time limit. The first is in case of wrongful death.

“Where the individual dies from the injuries and the court has discretion under reasonable circumstances to forgive late notice,” the Bill reads, “the time to file a claim in court is two years from the date of the fall.”

There is also a provision for “reasonable excuse” delays, which provides a modicum of flexibility to slip and fall lawyers.

How do These Changes Affect Ontarians?

Bill 118 is likely to make it more difficult for injured Ontarians to pursue financial compensation for slip and fall injuries occurring on snow and/or ice. This is true for a variety of reasons. First, legal action is rarely the first thing that comes to an injury victim’s mind following their accident; more often, their focus will be physical recovery. Second, it may be difficult to successfully identify who is at fault within 60 days. Third, the extent of the accident victim’s injuries may not be clear after such a short interval; some serious injuries don’t manifest until months after the event, and initially mild symptoms may worsen.

Some personal injury lawyers are also concerned that Bill 118 is indicative of a larger trend with broader implications for private citizens. One lawyer who spoke with Canadian Lawyer magazine suggested that it, along with the 2016 overhaul of Ontario’s Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, suggests that provincial lawmakers are more concerned with satisfying corporations than protecting their constituents.

“There really isn’t as strong of an injured persons’ lobby, and in my opinion, this latest limitation is very consistent with all the legislative changes we’ve seen in the past five or six years,” he said. 

What Should I Do After My Slip and Fall?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical help. Your physical and mental wellbeing should be your top priority; see a doctor as soon as possible to better understand the extent of your injuries.

Your next step should be to contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer, like the ones that work at Will Davidson LLP. Our team has been helping seriously injured Ontarians access fair and reasonable compensation for nearly 100 years. If you’ve been injured in a fall, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Image: Shutterstock

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