Winning your personal injury claim in Ottawa, Ontario – Ottawa slip and fall injury lawyers explain tricks of the trade
There is no question that some of the most common injury cases involve slip and fall accidents. Slip and fall injury cases present many complications and are often difficult cases to resolve given the current state of the law in Ontario.
Occupiers and/or owners of property must keep their property safe as required under the Occupier’s Liability Act of Ontario. For instance, retail stores must keep areas such as aisles, stairs, ramps, walkways, driveways and parking lots reasonably safe for persons who are using them.
Many falls occur because of ice and snow, elevation changes, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, inadequate maintenance, poorly maintained stairs, missing or defective handrails, falling objects, debris in aisles or walkways.
Occupiers and owners will be held liable for injuries sustained by people in slips and falls, trip and falls and other falls if they fail to take reasonable steps to ensure their property is safe.
As owners and occupiers, the duty includes the obligation to keep the property safe and free of dangers and hazards by creating and implementing a reasonable inspection program to prevent accidents. The test includes whether the owner and occupier’s conduct was in accordance with acceptable standards of practice. They must implement an adequate system of inspection. Owners and occupiers should not only develop but also implement a reasonable inspection and maintenance policy which includes a regular and reasonable cleaning, repair and maintenance program. The inspections should be frequent enough to reasonably identify dangers in a reasonable period of time.
In most injury cases, the onus is on the injured person to prove that the property owner or occupier was negligent. This can be a significant burden given that much of the evidence needed by the injured person is in the sole control of the tortfeasor or wrongdoer.
There are steps an injured person can take to maximize their chances of success in winning a slip and fall case. The main steps are as follows:
As an injured person, you should document the occurrence of the accident itself. Place the property owner or occupier on notice as soon as possible after the accident, usually by writing a brief letter setting out the incident briefly. Your injury lawyer often does this for you. The notice letter should be delivered only after you have had the chance to take photographs of the scene/location of he accident otherwise you run the risk of the property owner or occupier altering or destroying the evidence of negligence such as lack of railings, poor lighting or existing of ice and snow.
As an injured person you will need to provide evidence of the location of the fall, negligence and existence of your injuries. Take photographs of your injuries and gather medical documents proving you were injured and what the extent of your injuries are. Gather written statements from witnesses. Your personal injury lawyer will do this for you.
To increase your chances of success, you should hire an experienced and competent injury lawyer who has a track record of settling and winning injury files including challenging slip and fall cases.
When dealing with negligence, the onus as stated, is on the injured person to prove the property owner or occupier was negligent. On this issue, the injured person will need to prove the tortfeasor owed them a duty of care and that they breached the standard of care applicable to the situation. The injured person also needs to prove a causal connection between the negligence, the slip and fall accident and the injuries sustained.
To establish negligence, the injured person much establish that the tortfeasor had a legal responsibility them. In most slip and fall cases, the injured person will need to prove that the tortfeasor had a clear responsibility to ensure their safety, called a "duty of care," which is a significant part of a slip and fall accident cases.
By way of example. Imagine you slipped and fell on ice on a sidewalk while walking towards the entrance door of a store located in a mall. You would need to prove that there was ice present, that the ice was not tended to, that the owner or occupier failed to have a system of maintenance in place or if a system existed, the system was inadequate. You would also need to prove that the failure to deal with the ice caused a danger and that this danger (the ice) caused you to fall and suffer injuries. You will need to show that it was foreseeable that the failure to deal with the ice would cause someone to fall and to be injured.
In some cases, experts are hired to prove negligence such as engineers who can prove the defective staircase for instance did not comply with building codes.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall in Ottawa, Ontario or anywhere in Ontario, we can help. We provide free consultations and work on the basis of being paid only when we win. Call us at 613-315-4878 or 613-563-1131.