Slip & Fall Accidents
If you have been injured as a result of a “slip and fall” accident, there is a good chance our firm can recover damages for you.
In BC, the term “slip and fall” is often used to cover a broad range of accidents such as trips or accidents involving problems with a surface or structure.
For example, a slip and fall accident could be caused by an uneven floor surface, a leaking pipe creating a pool of water, a rotten board on a deck, a hidden hole in a lawn or poor or inadequate lighting.
As a general rule, you can claim damages for a slip and fall if you have been injured as a result of a failure by the owner or occupier to provide a reasonably safe premises.
This is because an owner or occupier of a property owes a duty to any potential visitors to ensure there are no hazards on their property which could foreseeably cause injury.
If they fail to provide a reasonably safe premises and you are injured as a result they could be liable a for full range of personal injury damages including damages for pain and suffering, lost wages or income, your out of pocket expenses, cost of future care, diminished capacity for work and even damages for loss of enjoyment or amenities of life.
What to do if you have suffered a personal injury in a slip and fall accident?
- Take photos of the location of the slip and fall accident as soon as possible.
- Get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
- Report the accident to the occupier or owner of the property.
- Photograph and keep the footwear you were wearing at the time of the accident and preserve any other evidence you think may be relevant.
- Follow the advice or treatment recommendations of your family doctor.
Slip and Falls on Ice and Snow
Needless to say, winter conditions like snow and ice create potentially dangerous conditions for pedestrians. These conditions result in a duty on the part of the “occupier” of places like sidewalks, outside stairs, driveways, and parking lots to ensure that those places will be “reasonably safe” for people using them.
An “occupier” can be a person, company, city, or other entity, and they can be liable to you for your injuries if they owned the premises, had possession of them, or if they had responsibility for them and control over them. For example, generally speaking, under the City of Vancouver’s Street and Traffic By-Law No. 2849, the owner or occupier of a piece of land (except one- or two-family residential dwellings) has to clear away snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their property by 10:00 a.m. every day except Sundays. Similarly, the occupier of a parking lot outside a store owes a duty to customers to have a reasonable system in place for the clearing and removal of ice and snow.
Occupiers of residential property, whether single or multiple family dwellings, are required at common law and under the Occupiers Liability Act to ensure that people coming onto their property will be reasonably safe in doing so, and must therefore attend to driveways, walkways and stairs appropriately. What’s reasonable depends on a number of factors, including the usual wintertime weather patterns in the area. If occupiers fail to meet the standard of care, they can be liable to you for damages if you are injured on their property.
To prove that an occupier is liable to you for your injuries if you slip and fall, you have to establish that the occupier didn’t live up to a reasonable standard of care in keeping the path free of snow and ice. An occupier of property doesn’t have to keep pedestrian routes totally clear of ice and snow at all times to avoid being sued; they just have to have a regular, reasonable clearing system in place. In the words of one court decision, “the proper standard does not require the occupier to eliminate every possibility of danger.”
As a pedestrian, however, you’re also responsible for your own safety. If you don’t take this responsibility seriously and you get hurt, you could be found “contributorily negligent”, which means that a court could partly reduce the monetary award they’d otherwise give you or even completely, if they decide you’re totally at fault. You could be partly or totally at fault if you were wearing shoes without good treads, or walking too fast on obviously slippery ground, or not paying attention while walking.
Again, however, the law doesn’t require you to have conducted yourself perfectly only that you’ve done what a “reasonable person” would have done in the circumstances. As long as you’ve done that, and the occupier hasn’t, then you could have the basis for a successful claim against them.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, call us to help protect your rights under the law.