November is here and with it comes the unpredictable wet weather. Between a mix of rain, sleet and sometimes (I’m cringing at the thought) snow, it’s no surprise that slips and falls are the #1 type of case I usually deal with in my office this month.
If you have slipped, tripped or fallen on someone else’s property because of icy conditions, inadequate maintenance, poorly designed stairs or other dangerous conditions, you may be entitled to compensation.
Here’s what you need to know (and what you should do) if you are injured in a slip and fall:
1.The Owner Is Always Responsible
Everyone who owns, manages or maintains property in Ontario has a legal duty to keep it safe for those who use it.
Even as a landlord, you are responsible for anything not part of municipal property. If you tell your tenants to clear the snow around the unit, it’s still up to you to ensure they do; otherwise, you can be sued as a result of negligence.
Sidewalks are a major culprit of slips and falls during winter. Although the city can fine you for not clearing the snow, they are technically still liable and can’t transfer that liability to you.
This is good news for your wallet, but not good news for the person who slips, falls and lands in my office.
Always encourage your tenants to shovel the sidewalks; and if you find that they don’t, please make the effort to do so yourself.
2. File A Police Report
This should go without saying, but if you’re involved in a slip and fall case it’s important to file a police report to begin a paper trail of your injuries, especially if you intend on pursuing on a personal injury lawsuit.
A police report will back up your claim, however, it’s important to note that with slip and fall cases there may be factors that prove you’ve “contributed” to your injury.
For example, if you were wearing running shoes instead of boots the day you twisted your ankle on icy steps, you might be partially responsible for your slip and fall, and that can reduce your compensation.
It varies, but you can be found 5-50% responsible.
To ensure liability, always collect the names and addresses of witnesses at the scene of your fall to backup your story.
3. See A Doctor
Seeing a doctor is your next step to continuing your personal injury lawsuit paper trail, and, of course, getting treated for your injuries.
Make sure your doctor writes down everything: all your symptoms and complaints related to your injury. Even if they are minor, insist that they are written down.
A seemingly minor bump on the head or a faint headache could relate to a concussion down the line, which is why it’s important to discuss right away—for the sake of your health and your personal injury claim.
4. See A Personal Injury Lawyer
Next, you need to have a call with me to discuss your personal injury lawsuit. If you’re a bit nervous about starting the process, I wrote a blog that explains exactly what you can expect when we meet.
Most personal injury lawyers will represent slip and fall cases even though, traditionally, they may not pay out as much, whereas some lawyers in the states only deal with slip and falls.
When dealing with slip and falls that revolve around soft tissue injuries, work with a lawyer who has specific experience in that area because it is tougher and it may be hard to find a lawyer to represent you.
Request to see their track record and don’t be afraid to ask the right questions
5. Sue for Wage Loss
Besides compensation for your injuries, you can also sue for wage loss.
Homeowners policies have limits of $1M, so it’s possible to get help, but you will have to sue.
This is also something we can discuss when we meet.
6. Talk To Your Insurance Company
If you get hurt— for example, you break your arm and have insurance—you’d go on short-term disability.
If you don’t have insurance, you can usually get EI sick benefits (limited to approximately 16 weeks) but you have to have enough hours at your job to qualify.
One good thing about slip and fall cases: there are no deductibles. If you’re awarded 30k for pain and suffering, you get 30k for pain and suffering.
With auto accidents, there’s a monetary threshold. For example, if someone gets 50k, they may take home 20k.
7. Keep All Your Receipts
Sometimes you can get physiotherapy covered by OHIP but it’s tough. You don’t have access to treatment while you’re suing a homeowner policy because they’re obviously not going to advance you the money.
It’s different from car accident cases because in an auto accident, you can generally get money for treatment from your own insurance company.
Therefore, you must keep receipts of all your expenses related to your injuries. This forms part of the litigation.
8. Follow Through With A Treatment Plan
I can’t stress this enough: always, always, always follow through with your post-injury treatment plan as discussed with your doctor or physiotherapist. It’s the best way thing to do for your body and it’s good to establish the impact of a soft tissue injury.
If your plan involves intense physiotherapy, do it. If it involves checking in with a clinic every Tuesday afternoon, do it.
If you don’t follow through with your recommended treatment plan, it could jeopardize your health, and it could be used against you in court to minimize your claim; leaving you injured and without the compensation you need.
9. Use Common Sense
As a personal injury lawyer I’ve met countless injury victims who have been held partially responsible for a debilitating slip and fall just because a lazy homeowner didn’t clear the ice off their steps.
I’ve dealt with mothers crying in my office because they can no longer provide for their families being off work. I’ve seen people, wheel–not walk–away from meetings with me.
It’s heartbreaking and it’s frustrating because these types of accidents are 100% preventable.
Please, if you own property, make it a priority to properly maintain it. It not only saves you from getting sued, it prevents injuries that could impact a person’s entire life.
On the other side, you as an individual must take appropriate precautions to protect yourself from slips and falls this season.
Always dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear to prevent needless accidents. Be mindful of your surroundings and use your best judgement in any situation you encounter.
Let’s do our part and work together to stay safe this winter!