Are Changes Coming to Ontario’s Slip and Fall Laws?

Ontario rule changes could make it tougher for slip and fall lawyers to help clients access compensation

A Progressive Conservative (PC) politician has proposed changes to the rules around slip and fall lawsuits involving snow and ice in Ontario. Bill 118, sponsored by Parry Sound–Muskoka MPP Norman Miller, would update the Occupiers’ Liability Act and compel plaintiffs in slip and fall cases to notify defendants of their intention to sue within 10 days of the accident. The provincial NDPs and several slip and fall lawyers have criticized the proposal.

Today, personal injury victims in Ontario have two years from the time of their accident to initiate a civil lawsuit. This grace period provides time to seek medical care, pursue rehabilitation, assess financial needs, and decide whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate. Reducing the grace period puts potentially-traumatized injury victims on the hot seat and may limit their ability to pursue a lawsuit.

“How is the customer who slips and falls in the parking lot of a strip mall supposed to find out the landlord’s name and address within the time frame?” asked Tom Rakocevic, NDP critic for Government Services and Consumer Protection, according to Canadian Underwriter. “That information is not readily, and certainly not publicly, available, as in the case of municipalities, except to a small segment of industry insiders who work in real estate.”

“A 10-day notice to serve is simply not an adequate time frame, especially for those who have been injured and may be dealing with doctors’ appointments and medical treatments,” added NDP deputy leader Sara Singh.

But the Bill’s sponsor believes changes are necessary to protect businesses in the province. MPP Miller argued that snow removal contractors and other seasonal service providers sometimes have difficulty purchasing insurance due to delayed personal injury claims.

“In many cases, as soon as there is compensation involved for clearing snow, a company’s premiums increase significantly,” Miller said. “This comes from the insurance company’s fear of having to cover potential lawsuits as far as one or even two years into the future.”

The plan would allow businesses to maintain records and preserve evidence following an accident, the Bill’s supporters argue. It would also allow plaintiffs who miss the 10-day window to pursue their claim provided they have a “reasonable excuse.”

While private member’s bills are rarely passed into law, slip and fall lawyers and opposition politicians have reason to be concerned in this case. According to Canadian Underwriter, most PC MPPs ‘spoke generally in favour’ of the bill.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to learn how our team of experienced Oakville slip and fall lawyers can help.

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