- May 16, 2016
- by WILL DAVIDSON LLP
Now that winter is finally over, we can all stop worrying about slipping and falling on icy sidewalks, walkways, and in parking lots.
You may be surprised to learn that the spring and summer can pose considerable safety concerns for pedestrians, particularly due to poorly maintained sidewalks and parking lots.
Due to a variety of factors, including damage from overloading, settlement, frost heave, and tree roots, concrete and asphalt can become uneven, riddled with potholes, and left in such a state of disrepair that it poses a serious risk of tripping and falling, particularly for the elderly.
Uneven Sidewalks hazard for trips and falls
Late spring and early summer is the time when the vast majority of tree root growth takes place. As such, it is not so uncommon to find uneven sidewalk slabs near or beside trees.
Tripping and falling onto cement can cause serious orthopedic injuries, the most common of which is a fractured knee, wrist or hip. In extreme cases, people are known to fall and hit their head, causing brain injury, and possibly even death. Fractures are often associated with surgery, along with an unexpected (and unwelcome) stay at your local hospital for several nights, or longer.
What is the Municipal Responsibilities?
It should be noted that with respect to municipal sidewalks, municipalities are not responsible for every minor defect that might pose a tripping hazard. Municipalities are, however, responsible to ensure that sidewalks are reasonably inspected and maintained.
The Ontario Court of Appeal found in Ford v. Windsor (City),  O.J. No. 242 (C.A.), that a sidewalk with a declivity of 3/4 inch to 1 inch between abutting slabs was in a state of non-repair. This was confirmed in Daley v. Toronto,  O.W.N. 480 (C.A.).
Although it is up to the Court to decide whether a particular defect is sufficient to constitute non-repair, it is generally accepted that a trip ledge in excess of 3/4 inches is a hazard to pedestrians, and can attract civil liability.
How Can A Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
In the event that you or someone you know is injured as a result of a municipal sidewalk you must keep in mind that s. 44(10) of the Municipal Act requires you to give written notice of the injury within 10 days, otherwise your claim for compensation may be statute barred unless you have a reasonable excuse for not complying with this notice, and you can prove that the municipality is not prejudiced by your delay.
For non-municipal property, such as private walkways and parking lots, there is no such notice requirement. There are still, however, deadlines to file claims, and as such, it is definitely advisable that should you have a trip and fall this spring or summer, you should seek legal advice immediately.
At Will Davidson LLP, our personal injury staff will inform you of your rights and help you to access the services you require. We understand how important it is to begin on the road to recovery as soon as possible after your trip and fall accident, which is why we will advocate on your behalf to pursue fair compensation. We have 10 office locations across Ontario, including Toronto, Oakville, Burlington, Markham, Midland, Huntsville, Bowmanville, Lindsay, Orillia, and Whitby.
If you’ve found this information helpful, consider sharing it with others who may also benefit. Please share, like & follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google + using the links below!