20 Feb 2014
Litigation – Steven Kenney
Winter has arrived and with it, snow and ice. Slips and falls as a result of snow and ice are common and caution should be taken to avoid taking such a spill. However, should you find yourself injured from a slip and fall, it is important to know what to do.
We recommend the following important steps:
- Record the location of the fall, particularly whether it occurred on private or public property. There are specific notices and very short time frames that must be followed if public or municipal property is involved.
- Record and keep the footwear worn at the time of the incident. Do not clean the shoes or boots, but store them in a safe place.
- Record the weather and other conditions. For example, was the walkway icy or snow covered, muddy, broken or in need of repair, or is there a hidden step?
- Record how the fall occurred. What were you doing? Where were you going? What happened?
- Record the names and addresses of witnesses to the fall.
- At the time of the fall, did you talk to anyone who had some sort of control over the property? (i.e. property owner, store manager, parking lot attendant)
- Record the names of any hospitals or treatment centres attended.
- Record the types of injuries and any treatment received.
- If possible, take photographs of the location, and date the photos.
- Contact a lawyer promptly to convey this information and determine your rights.
Likewise, even where care is taken to clear ice and snow from driveways, sidewalks and walkways, the winter season also comes with the risk that someone will slip and fall on your property. If someone has notified you that they have slipped and fallen on your property, these steps are important to follow:
- Take photographs of the location, and date them.
- Record the person’s name and address. Do the same for any witnesses.
- Summarize any information provided to you concerning how the fall occurred. If you were a witness to the incident, write a detailed statement describing what happened, and where and how it happened. Be sure to include any important details. Was the person drinking or drunk? Was the person walking, running or using a digital device (phone)? Was the person paying attention? What was the person’s footwear?
- Record the state of the walkway. Had you salted or placed sand prior to the incident? Had you cleared snow/debris?
- Record any injuries.
- Notify your insurance broker or property insurance company of a potential claim. It is difficult to know whether an individual will commence a claim for compensation. Injuries may appear to be minor at the time of the incident, but circumstances may change the status to serious or severe later. Some insurance companies appreciate the early warning and will send an adjuster to investigate immediately. Others may wait until you are given notice of a lawsuit.
- Contact a lawyer promptly to convey this information and determine your potential liability.
Often, notice of a lawsuit does not occur for many months or more. Thus, it is important to record details promptly, as your memory may fade with time. Most importantly, don’t panic if you receive notice of a lawsuit, but do contact your insurance company quickly to ensure that a response to the claim is prepared in the required time period.
Should you have any questions about your rights or liabilities with respect to slips and falls, please feel free to contact a member of our litigation group.
* * This article is intended only to inform or educate. It is not legal advice. Be sure to contact a lawyer to obtain legal advice on any specific matter.
Author: Steven Kenney is a lawyer at Sorbara, Schumacher, McCann LLP, one of the largest and most respected regional law firms in Ontario. Steven may be reached at (519) 741-8010 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.