As good personal injury lawyers, we can sometimes take a bad rap. Personal injury lawyers have been accused of clogging up court systems and costing taxpayers money with frivolous lawsuits for decades. One of the most typical of those claims that many consider frivolous are slip and fall accidents or premises liability. But when you consider the parameters and complexity of these suits, you may not consider them so frivolous after all.
The Occupier’s Liability Act
In Canada, premise liability is governed by the Occupiers Liability Act. This succinctly sets out that the individuals who are in legal control of any premises have a duty to make sure that everyone who uses that property will be reasonably safe when using it. This goes for both public and private properties. The “occupier”, or person who is responsible for the property, does not necessarily need to be the owner but may also be a manager or even the municipality when it comes to public properties.
The Complexity of Proof
One of the most important tenets when it comes to the Occupiers Liability Act is that it must be clearly proven that there was negligence on the part of the occupier. The act clearly states that the occupier must not “create a danger with intent to do harm to the person” or “act with reckless disregard to the safety of the person.” Under the guidelines, it must be clearly proven that negligence or reckless disregard for safety caused the accident in order to have a valid claim. This can be very complicated to prove.
Considerations When Determining Liability
Whether an occupier exercised the appropriate amount of care is determined by considering a number of facts. Was the danger of an injury foreseeable or was there no way to anticipate it? Did the occupier exercise applicable standards and procedures set by law in the management of the property? How long had the hazard existed and did the occupier have sufficient time to discover and correct it? Did the occupier regularly inspect the property to identify hazards?
After establishing negligence, it then comes down to proving injuries were caused by the hazard. The supporting evidence comes from the medical records and witness statements and any other corroborating information such as photographs or surveillance cameras. Medical evidence of injuries must be confirmed by a physician, a surgeon, or any other accepted medical practitioner.
The burden of proof can be complicated when it comes down to slip and fall accidents or premises liability. This can rule out many frivolous claims that can’t meet these stringent requirements. But it must be considered that slip and fall accidents can be life-altering, particularly for vulnerable citizens such as children or the elderly. The Occupier’s Liability Act provides a lawful way for victims to get compensation for injuries after an accident without leaving much room for frivolous claims.
If you have sustained injuries due to a slip and fall accident, it is in your best interest to know your rights. Contact a good personal injury lawyer for a consultation to discuss whether you have a valid claim.