What’s the most common type of personal injury claim?
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common personal injury claims. They result from an individual injuring themselves as the result of tripping, slipping or falling on someone’s property. If the fall can be attributed in whole or in part to the property owner, then the injured person has a right to claim compensation.
Duty of care
The Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act legally determines that owners and managers (and other people in authority) are responsible for the part of their property that is accessed by others. This includes businesses, landlords who fail to provide proper maintenance, cities and other government entities.
Most slip and fall accidents occur on property owned by businesses and municipalities.
In awarding damages for slip and fall cases the court will take into account other factors. For example, the ‘duty of care’ is much lower in cases where an individual is trespassing. Signs warning of hazards also may reduce the liability of property owners.
The courts will also factor in ‘contributory negligence’ which splits the damages between different parties. Contributory negligence sometimes includes the person who fell if they were acting in an irresponsible way, but this should not discourage someone from seeking damages – even if the victim is deemed partially responsible they could still be awarded compensation.
If you slip and fall, after you receive immediate medical attention you should call a personal injury lawyer. This is because Ontario has a two-year statute of limitations which means that If you intend to seek compensation you must do so within two years of your injury. In personal injury cases you are also responsible for the burden of proof. This means that you have to prove that the party you are seeking damages from was responsible for your injuries and, you must be prepared to prove the extent of your injuries.
Types of damages
There are three types of damages that are used to compensate slip and fall accidents:
- Pecuniary: also called ‘special damages’ awarded for financial compensation including lost income (past and future), lost opportunities, medical costs and other expenses
- Non pecuniary: also called ‘general damages’ for pain and suffering and other intangible elements capped at around $330 000 as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1978.
- Punitive damages: these are awarded very infrequently when an insurance company acts maliciously to try to cheat their clients out of receiving the payouts that they are entitled to (usually by arguing the injured party making an insurance claim is doing so fraudulently).
When evaluating your case it is important to consider recent rulings. In the case of slip and fall accidents, one of the most recent rulings was Musselman v 875667 Ontario Inc., in which an elderly woman slipped and fell down the stairs of a Toronto restaurant. As a result of the fall she became a paraplegic, and, along with her family, sued the proprietor as well as the City of Toronto which is responsible for determining building regulations. In total the suit resulted in an award of $1 million for future care, $828,000 for special damages, and $326,000 for non-pecuniary damages.