Slip & Fall Lawyers
Slip and trip and fall accidents can be very serious, often causing serious injuries. While some falls you can brush off and continue with your day, serious falls can cause life-altering injuries such as strains, sprains, tears, fractures, or even serious spinal cord and brain injuries. A fall accident can be extremely traumatic for any family. Serious falls can occur virtually anywhere, including sidewalks, grocery stores, commercial premises, parking lots, and anywhere really that involves moving from place to place by feet. Unfortunately, everyone can be at risk of a serious fall due to someone else’s disregard for public safety.
- Causes of Slip and Fall Cases
- Parties Involved in Slip and Fall Accidents
- Factors to Consider Immediately Following a Fall
- Proving Liability
- Common Injuries
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What are Occupiers’ Liability Claims?
- Time Limit for Slip and Fall Claims and Suing the City
- How long do you have to report a slip and fall on City property?
- How long do slip and fall claims take to settle?
- What is the average payout for a slip and fall case?
- Do you need a Slip and Fall lawyer?
- How much does a Slip and Fall lawyer cost?
- Contact Us
How do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
Slip and fall accidents are very common in Ontario. These falls can happen for any number of reasons. Whether the fall is because of neglected sidewalks, or uncleared ice during Ontario’s winter months, slip and fall accidents occur often and have detrimental effects for victims. There are many causes of slip and fall accidents. Some of the most prevalent causes of slip and fall Accidents in Hamilton, Toronto, and the surrounding area have to do with the fact many properties are poorly maintained. When a property owner or occupier of a premise is responsible for the state of disrepair and poor conditions of it, the victim that falls and injures him or herself could be eligible to pursue a slip and fall lawsuit.
Causes of Slip and Fall Cases
There are many important elements to any fall accident case. Most often it boils down to whether or not the property manager, owner, or occupier responsible for the property was negligent in identifying hazards and either removing them or properly alerting people of the existence of the hazard. When the responsible party is aware of the hazard and does nothing, the injuries caused by the negligence could result in a slip and fall claim.
- Uneven pavement/asphalt and potholes: These sorts of trips and falls seem to be some of the most popular types of falls. Unfortunately, with our sprawling cities, and our tax dollars being spent elsewhere, the sidewalks and parking lots are oftentimes in a state of disrepair. These hazards can also be seen on walkways or on commercial premises. People are often trusting of the places they walk, and it only takes one inconspicuous hazard on a traveled section of sidewalk or walkway to cause someone to fall and be seriously injured.
- Icy/snowy sidewalks and parking lots: Since we live in Canada, it likely comes as no surprise that this is a popular cause of slip and fall accidents. Parties responsible for property maintenance have a duty to keep it safe for pedestrians lawfully in attendance at the premises. This includes keeping it clear from ice and snow. It also includes sanding/salting the property as needed and in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, far too often, business owners, property owners, or the City, leave their sidewalks and walkways a sheet of ice and piled with uneven snow. This is an accident waiting to happen, especially for people with mobility issues like elderly pedestrians or persons with physical challenges.
- Wet and slippery floors: This is a major cause of slip and fall accidents on business premises like grocery stores and restaurants. These types of surfaces could include recently waxed and mopped floors, or hazards where some type of substance meets the floor and makes for a slippery surface. This can happen often in areas that involve tile floors and cleaning such as washrooms. It is incumbent on the owner or occupier of the property to utilize the proper warning signs such as a “Wet Floor” sign or rope the area off altogether until it dries.
- Other types of hazards: As you can imagine, and can tell from above, there are a number of ways someone can be injured as a result of a fall. There can also be broken floor boards, poor carpeting, poor lighting, uneven stairs, improper handrails, unsafe property design, and many other types of hazards.
Parties Involved in Slip and Fall Accidents
Fall accidents on other people’s property, business property, or City property, happen every day, and often the result of their negligence, a victim becomes seriously injured. One of the key questions to answer in a slip and fall case is, who are the potentially liable parties? In order to hold another party responsible for the harm caused to them, an injured victim, through the help of their personal injury lawyer, will have to determine who is the party or parties at fault. Generally speaking, it is not uncommon for a personal injury lawyer to name all parties that could be responsible, and then let the various parties figure it out amongst themselves and apportion liability accordingly. For instance, if a slip and fall takes place in a plaza parking lot, it is the responsibility of the occupier to keep the premises clear of ice and snow. That same occupier may have hired a property manager to maintain the property. That property manager may have hired a snow removal company to clear the ice and snow. As you can see, several parties may end up being jointly responsible for the ice and snow on the parking lot. An experienced lawyer will make sure that all necessary parties are put on notice and named properly in the claim.
Factors to Consider Immediately Following a Fall
First and foremost, if you require an ambulance, you should call emergency services right away and have an ambulance take you to the hospital. You should follow the advice of the paramedics and take care of your health as your first priority.
If you are able, or are with someone that is able to help, have some photos taken of the hazard that caused the fall. There may also be an incident report filled out. Ask for a copy of it and don’t sign anything if you are asked. It is also helpful to take photos of your injuries from the early stages and as time goes on.
Taking photos and video of the location and hazard can be very helpful for your case, as well as any measurements that may help your case. When you do take measurements, it is always good practice to have photos of the measurements as proof, such as by putting a ruler up to the pothole and then taking a photo. It is also important to have your photos date stamped.
If you are injured because of a slip and fall or some other type of accidental fall, it will be incumbent on you and your lawyer to prove that the occupier of the land failed in its duties to keep you safe, which ultimately led to your injuries. Occupiers of the land will usually try to argue that the area was properly maintained, and that a reasonable system of inspection was in place at the time of the accident, and that reasonable protocols were followed. In order to prove liability, it is critical that the hazard is properly investigated at the outset of the case.
A surprising number of accidental falls happen every year; virtually hundreds of thousands of preventable falls happen within Canada in a year. The most common slip and fall injuries include head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, concussions, hip fractures, spinal cord injuries, shoulder injuries, fractures and sprains, and soft tissue injuries. These types of injuries are common because of the type of force that is inflicted on the injured victim through a fall. It is important to seek treatment right away for your injuries so that the extent of your injuries is documented properly.
Brain injuries: Slip and falls and trip and falls are a common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). This is because people often slip or trip on a surface, and their head is the first thing to hit the ground. Additionally, it is possible to sustain a head injury without even hitting your head, solely from the force of your head moving or jolting. Head injuries range in their seriousness, and can lead to cognitive impairments, mood changes, memory problems, irritability, personality changes and many other symptoms and impairments. The less serious head injuries such as mild concussions can heal over a couple weeks’ time with proper rest.
Hip fractures: These are common, especially among the more senior population. In fact, almost all hip fractures are from a fall. Hip fractures can be deadly and extremely painful, requiring extensive rehabilitation, and often requiring surgery and insertion of an artificial hip.
Shoulder injuries: Shoulder tears and dislocations are common as well, as by the time the shoulder hits the ground during a fall, there is typically extreme force. These can be very painful and have a particularly negative affect on sleep. They also often require surgery as well as a long road to recovery.
Fractures: In many slip and fall cases, one or more bones could break. It is common for individuals to brace their falls with their hand which could cause their wrist to break. Often times victims of falls also break one of their legs or an ankle by falling awkwardly on one side.
It goes without saying, fall accidents can be just as serious as other types of accidents such as car crashes. It all depends on the type of fall and the fragility of the victim. A disproportionate number of people that are seriously injured by falls are older in age, and unfortunately, this population is at greater risk of suffering the most serious of injuries even including death.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Occupiers’ Liability Claims?
The Occupiers’ Liability Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.2, is the legislation that helps clarify the responsibility of property owners to keep pedestrians safe. The Act was established in 1990 and serves as the basis for these types of claims in Ontario. The Act articulates aspects of the law to hold property owners and occupiers accountable for their actions or omissions. The Act helps outline who may be considered responsible for the property, what duties occupiers have, exceptions to liability (such as trespassing or criminal activity), as well as other obligations. The Act is there to help motivate occupiers to take positive steps to keep their property safe and to inform the public of any potential harms that exist on the premises. The law requires owners and occupiers to maintain reasonably safe property features such as parking lots, sidewalks, ramps, driveways, and travelled sections of the property.
According to the Act, the occupiers’ duties include the duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises.
An occupiers’ liability claim could be brought against any number of parties including but not limited to, a store owner, restaurant owner, a private homeowner, a landlord, and a property manager. A thorough claim ought to include all parties that could be liable.
The Act articulates that a certain degree of assumed risk or fault from the injured victim could result in a deduction of the compensation, which in legal terms is called “contributory negligence”. This is common in every type of personal injury lawsuit unless liability is clear cut. This contingency depends on a number of factors such as were there any warning signs posted, the type of shoes worn by the victim (high-heels vs runners), alternative and safer routes, and so forth. The degree of fault will depend on the victim’s actions and the gravity of the hazard. If the claimant did contribute to the fall accident, that does not mean it is a complete bar to the claim, but rather it could work as a discount to the insurance company on the overall amount of compensation owed to the victim.
Time Limit for Slip and Fall Claims and Suing the City
Like many lawsuits, fall accident claims have time limits. Each province in the country determines its own statute of limitations for personal injury cases. These are legislated time constraints that claims must be filed within or otherwise they may be tossed out by the courts. In Ontario, generally speaking the statute of limitations is two years. However, there are exceptions and nuances, as well as other pieces of legislation that can affect the time limit depending on the circumstances of the fall. It is important to consult a personal injury lawyer to make sure all of these time lines are met.
When it comes to slip and fall claims and time limits, it is extremely important to preserve your rights and take the proper steps. For instance, if you do not submit a claim within two years from the date of the fall, your claim could be barred. Time is of the essence with slip and fall claims. If you have missed the notice period or the statute of limitations, you should contact a lawyer immediately to seek legal advice.
How long do you have to report a slip and fall on City property?
When suing the City, municipalities have a duty to maintain public spaces where people walk, run, cycle and drive, keeping pedestrians safe, and this is generally governed by the Municipal Act. Under section 44(10) of the Act, it indicates that the City must be notified of the claim and injury within 10 days of its occurrence. Therefore, prompt notice can preserve your right to sue against the City. The notice should include your identity, the date, time and location of the fall, how it occurred, and your injuries. We strongly recommend you consult with a lawyer to assist in drafting this notice letter. Understandably, many people are unaware of this notice requirement, and you may not be barred from bringing a claim if you can demonstrate that you have a reasonable excuse for not providing notice, and that the municipality will not be prejudiced by the late notice. Courts consider a number of factors but it is always best to play it safe, and consult a lawyer to help you satisfy this notice requirement otherwise your claim could be tossed out.
The Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c.25 can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/01m25
How long do slip and fall claims take to settle?
Like any lawsuit, accident claims can take a significant amount of time from start to finish. Personal injury claims like motor vehicle accidents, in general can take several years, and this includes fall accidents. Your lawyer should communicate with the insurance company to ensure they have all of the appropriate documentation to assess your case. Our legal team will do a thorough investigation of your case and make sure you are on your way to recovery as early as possible, getting the treatment you deserve. Our personal injury team will also put together the expert reports needed to advocate your case in the best way possible.
What is the average payout for a slip and fall case?
This is a commonly asked question, and we always discuss this at the initial consultation. Every slip and fall case are different. There are a number of factors to consider when discussing the value of a case. These factors include, liability issues such as the type of hazard and what type of shoes the victim was wearing, the age of the victim, whether or not the victim was working at the time and precluded to work again in the future, the extent of injuries, the ability or inability to carry out daily activities, and the list goes on. The truth is, in most cases, these cases take experts and years of putting the case together in order to properly evaluate the case. The case is very different for someone that is retired, versus an individual who worked as a professional and can no longer carry out the essential tasks of their employment. Your personal injury lawyer should be able to have an open and frank discussion around the value of your claim, but you should not expect to have a concise value of your case early in the process.
Do you need a Slip and Fall lawyer?
For minor slip and fall accidents that you fully recover from in just a few days, you likely do not need a lawyer, and in fact, may have difficulty finding one to take on the case. Part of the reason for this is that a claim takes years from start to finish, and to sue over a few days of pain and suffering is not a good use of time for everyone including the courts. However, sometimes falls result in serious and catastrophic injuries, and in those cases, you will benefit by having a strong legal team to advance your claim.
Your lawyer will help you understand the process and will help ensure that you do not make any errors or omissions throughout the process. Your personal injury lawyer should help you build up your case and position your claim in such a way that you receive the best compensation. The legal system is extremely complicated and intricate, and an experienced personal injury lawyer will help make sense of the way our convoluted legal system functions.
The lawyers at the Bernstein Law Group are passionate about their work, and treat every client with compassion. We actively fight for the best interests of our clients, and do so around the clock. Trust the lawyers at the Bernstein Law Group and their years of experience to get you the results you deserve.
How much does a Slip and Fall lawyer cost?
At the Bernstein Law Group, we take slip and fall cases, and we do so on a contingency basis, meaning, we will not seek payment of our fees until you obtain a settlement, and If there is no settlement, then there is no fee. This ensures that you do not have to worry about paying legal fees and you can focus on your recovery instead. We also cover all of the disbursements up front and wait until settlement for reimbursement. This way, you are not faced by the financial burden of advancing such a claim and ensures you can get the proper treatment and rehabilitation in a timely fashion by the best health professionals.
Call our office for a free, no-obligation consultation
To learn more about our services at the Bernstein Law Group and to discuss your slip and fall or trip and fall case, call our office today. We will gladly schedule a free consultation with no obligations at your convenience. If need be, we will also come visit you at your home or at the hospital.
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