Why You Need to Give Notice in Slip-and-Fall Cases

by | Apr 8, 2021 | Legal, Personal Injury

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident and you’d like to make a claim, you should give notice as soon as possible.

Slip, trip and fall incidents can be quite serious and often can result in injuries including fractures, tears and sprains. An accident of this nature can occur anywhere, such as grocery stores, on public property such as a city sidewalk, or in a parking lot. These accidents can also happen on private residential property.

Anyone can be a victim of another’s negligence.

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall, you must prove that the occupier failed in their duties, which resulted in your injuries. As with most areas of law, there are many ways that you can make a mistake in the process. One of the trickiest areas is giving notice.

What is “notice”?

When we talk about notice, we are referring to the procedure of notifying the individual or company that is responsible for the property that the plaintiff fell on. There are different ways to give notice – in person, over the phone, or in writing. It is always recommended that notice is given in writing in case proof of notice is required. Whether you are dealing with a city, town, company or individual, you should always try to give notice to the relevant parties as promptly as possible.

You should provide the following information in your notice:

  1. Date and time of the accident.
  2. Exact location (with an ‘x’ marking where you fell).
  3. Pictures of the hazard that caused your accident, if possible.
  4. A description of events that led to your accident.

Why is notice important?

Unfortunately, when people slip and fall, there is rarely a witness to corroborate their story. With no witnesses and no police investigation, it can get tricky navigating next steps. Partly for this reason, our legislators have decided that prompt notice is required so that the party can investigate before it is too late. It is important to give them notice so they have a chance to investigate as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Notice becomes especially important in the winter. With high rates of winter maintenance-related injuries and constantly changing weather conditions, evidence of the hazard can disappear quickly. By notifying the property owner immediately, you are allowing them to investigate and provide further evidence to support your case.

Is it legally required to provide notice?

Notice is a legal requirement for slip-and-fall cases. The rules about notice, however, vary from case to case.  If notice is not provided within the required timeframe (explained below), then any action against the defendant for the fall could be barred.

Types of notices

As we mentioned previously, the rules surrounding notices and notice periods vary based on case. Most accidents take place on two property types: Municipal and non-municipal.

Municipal accidents

The most stringent notice requirements apply to municipalities. Under the municipal act, people generally have 10 days to give notice to the relevant municipality of a slip-and-fall accident.

Non-municipal accidents

Recently, the Ontario Government made changes to the laws relating to slip-and-falls on non-municipal property. Injured parties now have 60 days to give notice to the alleged at-fault party, or else they may lose their right to make a claim.

What if you don’t know who the property belongs to?

Since it can be hard to determine if you fell on property that a municipality is responsible for, we regularly send notice letters to the city out of an abundance of caution, unless it is extremely clear that the city is not involved. That way, if it later turns out that the city is involved, the injured party does not need to worry about missing the notice period deadline.

If you missed the notice period, can you still make a claim?

The short answer is maybe. These situations are very fact dependent, but there are ways to get around missing the notice period. As with all claims related to injuries, we always recommend that injured parties consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to help them navigate the legal landscape.

If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall, give us a call today!

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