Slipping on Ice: What’s Next?
Canadians know the perils of the harsh elements of winter. Aside from the blistering cold, we are aware that slip and fall cases are common during this season. Not only is slipping on ice embarrassing, but it can also cause victims immense pain and damage on the body. In worse cases, it can potentially affect one’s quality of life.
Under premises liability law, property owners have a legal duty of care to keep their premises safe and hazard-free. This includes keeping driveways, walkways, parking lots, and similar common areas clear of ice and snow.
Accumulated ice and snow are dangerous conditions. When owners allow these dangerous conditions to exist on their property, it makes them vulnerable to personal injury claims and lawsuits.
Licensees and Invitees
A property owner’s legal duty of care extends to two categories of pedestrians:
Invitees – people who give the property owner benefits (shoppers in a supermarket, mail delivery personnel, guests at a hotel, etc.)
Licensees – people whose primary objective is social, not business (children, party guests, neighbours, friends, etc.)
Burden of Proof
If you are hurt because of a property owner’s negligence, you have a right to compensation for any damages you have incurred. These usually include:
Medical and chiropractic bills
Out-of-pocket expenses (bandages, crutches, prescriptions, etc.)
Sick days and vacation time
Pain and suffering
If you are hurt after slipping on ice or snow, you now have to prove to the property owner’s insurance company that their insured was negligent. Your evidence must appropriately support your claim.
Here is a list of evidence you will need in order to succeed:
Photos and Videos
Utilize your cellphone and take photos of the icy area you fell on. It is best to take as many shots as possible – including video footage. Ice and snow will probably get removed by the property owner or on its own as it melts within hours. Once the ice is gone, you have lost the opportunity to document it visually as important evidence in your claim. If your injuries are bad, have someone take photos of you.
Independent witnesses are better over secondary witnesses (employees, family and friends) because independent witnesses usually have no personal or financial interest in the outcome of your claim, making their testimony more credible and with greater weight.
If there are witnesses, ask them to write down how they saw you fall and have them describe the icy conditions.
The evidence that will link your injuries directly to the property owner’s negligence is your medical charts and records. These are vital because they create the link between the slip and fall and your injury. It is important to prove that the ice or snow’s dangerous nature was the direct and legally acceptable cause of your injury. Without your physician’s written diagnosis directly linking your injuries to the fall, other evidence such as photos and witness statements can be disregarded.
If you or someone dear to you slipped on ice and needs legal assistance, contact us at 1.855.905.9222.