Who is Responsible if You Slip on an Icy Sidewalk?

If you slip on an icy sidewalk, it may be the responsibility of the person who owns and maintains the sidewalk in question. This blog will focus on sidewalks that are owned and maintained by municipalities.

Under the Municipal Act, 2001, the municipality is responsible to keep the sidewalks in a state of repair.  If it was very greatly negligent in doing so, the municipality will be responsible to pay for damages sustained by anyone injured because of the dangerous state of the sidewalk.

Remember that you have 10 days after the incident to let the municipality know that you fell on a sidewalk. Unless you have a valid reason, your claim can be denied if you failed to give notice to the municipality within 10 days. Even if it has been more than 10 days, you should give notice as soon as possible.

When you start a claim (lawsuit) against the municipality because of an icy sidewalk, the municipality can defend itself by saying one of 3 things:

1.it did not know and could not reasonably have known that the sidewalk was in a state of disrepair;

2.it took reasonable steps the prevent the disrepair from happening;

3.minimum standards of maintenance applied to the sidewalk in question and those standards had been met.

The municipality can show that it could not have known about the icy sidewalk or that it did what it could to prevent it by showing:

  • logs of the maintenance undertaken on the specific sidewalk
  • maintenance and inspection policies and manuals
  • equipment used
  • training and expertise of the operators
  • particulars of any inspection conducted before the incident
  • weather reports

If the municipality wants to rely on defence #3 (minimum standards were met), it must show that it met the minimum maintenance standards by producing similar information and documentation.

Even if you are able to prove that the municipality was grossly negligent in the maintenance of the sidewalk, you can still be partially at fault for the slip and fall incident. To find out if you played a role in the incident, the court may look at:

  • your knowledge of the icy condition of the sidewalk before your fell
  • whether you took safety precautions for your own well-being such as wearing proper footwear.

If the court finds that there was very great negligence on behalf of the municipality, you must prove your damages. These can range from compensation for your pain and suffering, reimbursement of medical expenses and replacement of your lost wages.  For more information, take a look at our blogs on damages.

If the court determines that you are partly at fault, your damages will be reduced according to your share of the responsibility.

If you have been injured because of a dangerous and icy sidewalk, call one of our lawyers at Burn Tucker Lachaîne. We offer services in both English and French. Our initial meeting is always free.



By Eliane Lachaîne of Burn Tucker Lachaîne Personal Injury Lawyers on November 26, 2017
Tags: Community Involvement, Negligence, Pedestrian accidents