Slips and Falls on Municipal Property: Beware of Losing Your Rights!
A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has resulted in a woman injured in a slip and fall on property owned by the City of Toronto to pay more than $9,000 in legal fees to the City when her case was dismissed by the Court because she failed to notify the City within 10 days following her injury of her intention to seek compensation.
The City of Toronto Act (like the Municipal Act) requires individuals who have injured themselves on City property to notify the City within 10 days of the date of the accident.
The Plaintiff in this case injured herself on August 19, 2011 when she tripped on a City sidewalk as a result of a 2.5 cm gap between the concrete and the interlocking brick. Unfortunately, she fractured her left wrist.
It was not until some 4 months later that the plaintiff caused a notice letter to be delivered to the City. Although there is an exception to 10 day notice requirement where there is a reasonable explanation for the delay, the plaintiff in this case was unable to provide any reason to the Court why such notice was not delivered. Additionally, there must be evidence that the City has not been prejudiced by the delay in the receipt of the statutory notice.
Importantly, ignorance of the requirement or the statutory limitations is not an excuse for non-compliance with the Act.
It was clear that, although the Plaintiff had suffered an injury, the injury did not hinder her actions or ability to give timely notice.
The Court was quick to empathize with the Plaintiff and explicitly commented on the unfairness of the 10 day notice requirement, however, ultimately found that it was bound to give effect to the legislation and rule in favour of the City’s motion to dismiss the action.
The take home message: contact SorbaraLaw immediately following an accident causing injury so that we can take the appropriate and necessary steps to preserve your rights.