By: Rebecca Rosenberg
In December 2020, Bill 118, the Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, became law in Ontario. Now, someone who experiences a slip-and-fall such as on snow or ice on another’s property must provide the other party with written notice within 60 days. The previous limitation period for reporting these types of accidents was two years.
On the one hand, this is a win for contractors and insurance companies who often pay premium rates to protect against accidents during Canada’s cruel winters.
From their perspective, Bill 118 works to prevent people from ‘sleeping on their rights. Many businesses have complained that lawyers will file a claim just weeks before the two-year deadline in the hopes that the defendant won’t have time to adequately prepare. The idea behind the law is likely to filter out fraudulent slip-and-fall lawsuits. The 60-day limit also gives defendants enough notice to quickly respond to claims with the appropriate evidence rather than having to retroactively respond to an issue two years after the fact.
On the other hand, the new limitation could impact people’s right to sue. The claimant might have experienced a severe injury impacting their ability to take the necessary steps for filing a lawsuit. As well, many individuals may face significant difficulties accessing legal resources or representation. It takes time not only to find legal aid, but also to collect the relevant information to bring forth a claim, such as the property owner or corporation’s contact information. When suing a municipality, for instance, specific information might be required regarding your medical treatment and history.
However, the legislation does provide an exception under s.6.1(6) for circumstances where the claimant had a “reasonable excuse” for not giving proper notice. What is reasonable or not would be decided on by the judge on the case.
If you or someone you know has a possible personal injury case because of a slip and/or fall, keep in mind the 60-day limit. Unfortunately, not all lawyers in Ontario or the public in general are aware of the new limitation period. For all accident-related cases, our firm recommends Smitiuch Injury Law whose lawyers can help guide you through the complicated and often painful process of filing a slip and fall lawsuit.