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Occupiers’ liability during the holiday season

The holiday season is a time for social gatherings and family reunions; a time to spend time with loved ones and enjoy good food and drink. From now until the New Year, people will come together in towns and cities across Canada to celebrate their most important relationships.

Unfortunately, Ontario personal injury lawyers know that this seasonal abundance of parties often has unintended consequences, including car accidents caused by impaired driving and injuries leading to occupiers’ liability claims. We discussed social hosts’ responsibility for the actions of their inebriated guests in a blog last week; today, we’ll take a closer look at occupiers’ liability.

What is occupiers’ liability?

Occupiers’ liability is a field of law relating to the duty of care that “occupiers” owe to visitors on their “premises.” In Ontario, rules for occupiers’ liability are laid out in the Occupiers’ Liability Act, which defines an occupier as “a person in physical possession of premises… or a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of the premises or the activities there carried on, or control over persons allowed to enter the premises.”

The term “premises,” meanwhile, refers to any lands and structures, including water; ships and vessels; trailers and portable structures designed or used for residence, business or shelter; and trains, railway cars, vehicles and aircraft that are not in operation.

What are an occupier’s duties?

Occupiers are expected under the Occupiers’ Liability Act to take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is safe for visitors and patrons. For an individual hosting a holiday party at a private residence, these steps may include clearing stairs, sidewalks, and walkways of accumulated snow and ice and applying salt or sand to slippery surfaces; ensuring outdoor areas are well-lit and clear of potentially hazardous obstructions; and calling attention to uneven walking surfaces.

Commercial property owners’ may be expected to take further steps, including training staff, implementing maintenance schedules and inspection protocols, and hiring contractors if necessary.

When can I file an occupiers’ liability claim?

Most occupiers’ liability claims derive from slip-and-fall accidents caused by icy stairs, walkways, driveways, etc.; and trip-and-fall accidents related to uneven walking surfaces, potholes, or debris left in common areas.

If you have suffered a serious injury as a result of one such incident, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical costs. Be sure to report your accident to the owner or manager of the premises immediately and fill out an accident report if possible. You should also record the names and contact information of any witnesses and take photos of the location or conditions in which your accident occurred. Finally, be sure to call an experienced Oakville personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact Will Davidson LLP’s team of Oakville personal injury lawyers today if you have suffered an injury as a result of the negligence of a property owner or manager this holiday season. Our team has a wealth of experience with occupiers’ liability claims and can ensure that you are well-represented as you pursue com


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