If you’re injured in a slip and fall accident, one of the first calls you should make is to a personal injury lawyer. This is especially true when your slip and fall injury is caused by the negligence of a municipal government.

Why the urgency?

In 2001 the Municipal Act provided additional protection to municipalities against slip and fall claims. According to the Municipal Act, if you sustained an injury on government property, you must notify the municipality within 10 days of your injury and the decision to initiate a claim against them. Unfortunately, this is not a lot of time, which is why it’s imperative to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately if you’ve suffered a slip and fall due to the negligence of a municipal body.

What is the Municipal Act, 2001?

The Municipal Act covers much more than just slip and falls. This wide-ranging piece of legislation governs the creation, administration, and governance of all municipalities in Ontario (except for Toronto).

The Municipal Act, as it pertains to slips and falls, dictates that anyone who intends to sue a municipality as a result of a slip and fall on their property must notify the municipality about the injury and their claim in writing within 10 days.

Mitigating circumstances

However, there are some exceptions to the Act. You may miss the 10 day deadline if:

  •      You have a legitimate and reasonable excuse.
  •      The municipality in question is not prejudiced.

What counts as a reasonable excuse?

The only body that can determine what qualifies as a reasonable excuse is the court. That means a judge decides what qualifies and constitutes as a reasonable excuse. However, there are some obvious examples. If you’re in a coma as a result of your injury and unable to notify the municipality then this would likely be deemed a reasonable excuse.

While ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance of the severity of your injury may be. The Ontario Court of Appeal recently noted that “ignorance of the notice requirement can add to another extenuating circumstance (such as lack of knowledge of the severity of the injury) to create a reasonable excuse.” That is, ignorance is not an excuse in itself, but if it’s combined with other mitigating circumstances (for example if you did not realize how severe your injury was) then it might be taken into consideration.

What counts as prejudice?

We’re talking “prejudiced” in the legal sense. The second mitigating circumstance refers to the municipality having an unfair disadvantage. If you file after the 10 day deadline with a valid excuse, you may still be unable to claim damages if the time elapsed has made it impossible for the municipality to investigate the incident.

For example, if you slip on ice in the spring, wait five days which during that time the ice melts and then you file a claim, the municipality cannot properly investigate or defend themselves.

To prevent this issue you need to “preserve” the evidence immediately. Take photos, collect witness statements, and record other pieces of proof.

Call a Personal Injury Lawyer

When it comes to slips and falls the Municipalities Act, 2001 makes time a valuable resource. Contact the slip and fall lawyers at Zayouna Law Firm, we can help you meet the 10 day deadline and fight your claim.

 

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