Falls on Municipal Property – Ottawa Injury Lawyer – Things to Know
In Ontario, municipalities are governed by the Ontario Municipal Act, 2001. Under specific sections of the Municipal Act, municipalities have certain obligations to maintain municipal property such as highways, bridges and sidewalks in a reasonable state of repair. What is reasonable is fact specific to the location of the fall and sometimes to the time of year the fall occurred (i.e. winter vs. summer).
When falls occur on municipal sidewalks, the injured victim must demonstrate through evidence that the municipality was "grossly negligent" in its duty to maintain the sidewalk in a reasonable state of repair.  This is often a difficult onus to meet because in essence the injury victim must show that the municipality acted unreasonably in relation to the danger (uneven surface, ice, snow etc..) and was grossly negligent as opposed to simply negligent. Each case is assessed on its own facts and it is important for your personal injury lawyer to obtain documents from the municipality in relation to the area where you fell, such as maintenance policies, maintenance guidelines, maintenance schedules and inspection records. These records will assist your injury lawyer to determine the chances of success in a personal injury case against a municipality.
It is important to note that if you are injured on a municipal sidewalk, you must serve notice on the municipality in writing within 10 days of the fall. Notices should be in writing and sent via registered mail to the municipal clerk. The notice must provide specific information so the municipality can easily determine the exact location of the fall, the time and date of the fall, injuries sustained and details of the injured person such as name and contact information. Failing to provide notice can be fatal to any claims for compensation.
The content of this article is intended to provide general information is and not meant to be read as legal advice. Each case is decided on its own specific facts and you should consult a lawyer to assess your specific case. The law changes from time to time and so it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible after an accident.
Marc Nicholas Quinn
Ottawa slip and fall lawyer – law practice focussed on injury, disability, insurance and accident cases