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Slips and falls on Ontario sidewalks — who is liable?

City bylaws in Ontario make clearing snow on the sidewalks adjacent to homes the responsibility of property owners. Does this responsibility also make homeowners liable for injuries suffered by victims of slips and falls on the sidewalks? An Ontario Court of Appeals says “No.”

There are only two circumstances under which the owners of property adjacent to snowy sidewalks can be held responsible for the injuries of fall victims. If the sidewalk is part of an area occupied by a business, such as a coffee shop or grocery store, the business owner must maintain it and keep it safe for pedestrians. He or she can face premises liability claims if snow accumulation is not cleared within the required period after the snowfall.

The second exception is when a homeowner creates the danger on the sidewalk. This can happen if the dangerous situation is caused by water that flows onto the sidewalk from the property of the homeowner. Any other debris or hazardous objects that originate from an adjacent property can lead to claims against a property owner.

Ontario victims of slips and falls that resulted from snow that was negligently allowed to accumulate may be facing high medical expenses and lost income. They might be unsure about how to proceed. The most logical step might be to consult with an experienced premises liability lawyer who can assess the circumstances and explain their legal rights. A lawyer can suggest the best way forward and advocate for the injured party throughout any ensuing legal proceedings — whether they involve a settlement out of court or litigation.

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