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Slip and fall: Homeowners’ liability


The heavy snow and lots of ice hits Toronto as a series of winter storms usher in miserable winter conditions, leaving Toronto residents more vulnerable to injuries from slip and falls.


 According to Statistics Canada, falls are the leading cause of serious injury, accounting for 34 per cent of injuries in males and 43 percent of injuries in females. In 12 to 64-year olds, a slip or trip incident was the cause of 40 per cent of falls in males and 45 per cent in females.


Li Dong suffered a severe injury in 2011 when she was walking her dog in her neighborhood.  She slipped on a piece of black ice in front of a neighbor’s house and fell on her right ankle. The fall fractured her right ankle. A surgery was performed and metal screws were inserted into her right leg.


In China, individuals who suffer this type of injury are on their own to manage their sufferings. As a newcomer in Canada, the concept of liabilities and legal recourse are new to Li. She had no idea that she could possibility seek damages from the house owner until she contacted a personal injury lawyer. 


Under Ontario law, owners of properties – including business premises, private homes, factories, or warehouses, owe all individuals who enter onto a property a “duty of care.” They are responsible to ensure that it is safe for people to enter into the building, and are liable to the on-premises injury. If anyone suffered injuries due to owners’ negligence, the owners are susceptible for slip and fall claims.

RSA Canada保险公司索赔业务主管沃克称:“全加拿大每年有多达数千起滑倒索赔都是源于住宅、店铺或仓库业主的疏忽大意,一些极端案例的受害者涉及头部或脊椎受伤,因此而造成的损失极大。”

 There are literally thousands of slip-and-fall claims all over Canada each year as result of negligence of the party who owns a house, store, or warehouse,” saysAlex Walker, Director of Claims Relations at RSA Canada.”In some extreme cases, people suffer injuries to the head or spine, and the costs of damages can be extremely high.


I’ve seen slip and fall claims range as low as $2500 for a minor sprain and soft-tissue injury to upwards of $1m for a catastrophic blow to the skull or spine resulting in death or quadriplegia,” says Walker.


Property owners’ negligence is a key factor in assessing the merit of the slip and fall claims.In a scenarios where a person visiting a premises suffered a fractured wrist due to the ice in the walkway of the property, and the property owner fails to clean the walkway after a snow storm three days ago, there would most likely be a finding of negligence against the property owner.


As precautionary measures, entrance to business premises or private properties should have mats or rugs to keep the floors clean and dry, and any damaged mats should be replaced as soon as possible.


The award for slip and fall claims may depend on many factors – including the extent of the injury, the person’s age and the income level. But as property owners face risks of being held liable for the slip and fall injury, it is critical that the liabilities are covered by an insurance policy that can respond to the claims.


Most home insurance policies cover liability claims, but the policy premiums and the amount of coverage varies.  Property owners should talk to independent insurance broker, to ensure they are covered by the right policy.


There are insurance brokers who work for homeowner, not insurance company. You can visit www.ibao.orgfor qualified insurance brokers.


But despite the insurance policies in place, it is important that people don’t suffer injuries. The extreme winter conditions do make keeping walkways safe a true challenge, but it's a challenge that business and property owners to take seriously. It is important that property owners clear off the snow as quickly as they can.


It is up to each person who owns a building to take reasonable steps to make sure that they are keeping sidewalks, walkways stairs, clear of any debris, ice snow, leaves,” says Walker.


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