Ontario Considers Bill to Reduce Slip and Fall Time Limits

Slip and fall injuries are among the most common sources of personal injury claims in Ontario, particularly during the winter. For that reason, some slip and fall lawyers are concerned about a proposed amendment to the province’s Occupiers’ Liability Act.

Bill 118, the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, was introduced to the provincial legislature in May 2019, passed its second reading in June of that year, and more recently passed a standing committee – with one significant amendment. The Bill, which was tabled by Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller, proposes to limit the period of time in which a slip and fall injury victim can file a claim against a snow removal company.

Currently, claimants have two years from the moment that they become aware of their right to file a claim to submit written notice of their intent. That two-year period almost always begins at the moment of the accident. The one notable exception is when the injury occurs on property maintained by a municipality; in those cases, the plaintiff has ten days to submit notice.

In its original form, Bill 118 would apply that ten-day notice period to claims for injures that occurred on private property, with exceptions for when the plaintiff dies or when a judge finds there is a “reasonable excuse” for not providing notice. Here’s some of what Bill 118 would add to the Occupier’s Liability Act:

“No action shall be brought for the recovery of damages for personal injury caused by snow or ice against a person or persons listed in subsection (2) unless, within 10 days after the occurrence of the injury, written notice of the claim, including the date, time and location of the occurrence, has been served on one of more of the persons listed in the subsection (2).”

In other words, injury victims and their slip and fall lawyers have ten days to submit written notice to the defendant snow removal company or the occupier of the property where the injury occurred. The notice must include the date, time, and location of the accident – additional details of the claim are not necessary.

The Bill has received significant support. Members of the snow removal and landscaping industries believe it would better protect them against frivolous injury claims. Other supporters simply believe it is unreasonable that a defendant be asked to gather accurate evidence up to 23 months after an incident.

The bill’s critics, on the other hand, believe it would put injury victims and the slip and fall lawyers that represent them in an unfair position.

“All this is going to do is create a regime where big landlords and snow removal companies can sleep a little easier if they are not doing their best to ensure the safety of their property and workplaces,” said NDP MPP Tom Rakocevic, according to Canadian Underwriter.

“Landlord and private property owners need to have the due diligence in place when maintaining their properties,” added NDP MPP Sara Singh. “A 10-day written notice period is too minimal for victims of slip-and-fall cases to recover and take the necessary actions they need to towards potential compensation or ultimately their recovery.”

Additionally, there is concern that injury victims may not be aware of these time limitation periods. And even if they were, it could take more than ten days to track down necessary contact information of the snow removal companies or property occupiers.

The standing committee sought to alleviate some of these concerns: it passed the bill but expanded the time limit from ten to 60 days. While some slip and fall lawyers would prefer to see it expanded further, two months gives seriously injured accident victims time to recover, assess their options, and consult with a lawyer before pursuing a claim.

There is no word yet on when the Bill will be presented for its Third Reading or when it is expected to become law.

Contact an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of slip and fall lawyers will assess your claim and help you understand the legal process. If and when Bill 118 gets passed, our team will help you navigate that truncated timeline and ensure your written notice is submitted promptly and correctly.

Reach out today for more information.

Image: Shutterstock   

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