Someone is Injured on Your Property: Are You Liable?November 15, 2018
Both occupiers of property, and the owners themselves, must care for their premises in a manner that allows visitors and others with permissible purpose to exist safely. In the event someone is injured on your property, are you liable for their serious injury or death?
We explore Canadian tort law, premises liability, and what property owners and occupiers must do should an accident occur. (Hint: you may need a tort claims lawyer).
Common Dangers Found on Properties
Hotels, apartment complexes, ski resorts and similar businesses along with residences have numerous hazards often taken for granted.
- Poor lighting, or no lighting in vital areas of property;
- Various types of mold;
- Uneven, wet, or damaged flooring;
- Fire or chemical hazards; and
- Loose debris in common areas
Each hazard represents an accident waiting to happen and must be addressed accordingly before inviting guests or occupants to enjoy amenities or the property itself. Shouldering complete responsibility for others often gets undermined by management, which puts the owner of the premises in jeopardy of being held civilly or criminally responsible.
Duty to Care
Canadian tort law specifies owner and occupier responsibility in upholding a reasonable standard of care to avoid persons getting injured on their property. While the operative word is “reasonable” since its legal interpretations may vary from court to court, courts consider some of the following when ascertaining whether a reasonable amount of caution was exercised in tort cases:
- Nature of property (was it deemed hazardous with proper signage, and an individual simply “hopped the fence”?);
- Legal capacity (how many people are permitted to exist at once);
- Whether occupier/owner knew the potential dangers and turned a blind eye to fixing them;
- Activities that may transpire on the property; and
- The extent of potential harm involved with performing said activities.
The amount of reasonable care necessary to upkeep properties, venues or living quarters will vary from place to place. Movie theatres, for example, will require less “care” than go-kart tracks.
When Contributory Negligence Comes into Play
Persons injured on your property may be partially responsible if, after the owner’s conscious effort to make the property safe, that party’s negligent or reckless behavior caused their own injury. For example, if the grounds are safe but someone swan-dives off your roof and hurts their torso, their actions contributed to their own injury if you deemed the roof off-limits.
Tort claims with contributory negligence are reduced by the amount of responsibility of the victim. So, if the courts say victims receive CAD 100,000 but they contributed 50% to their own injury or demise, they final settlement would be reduced to CAD 50,000.
Was Someone Injured on Your Property?
Some accidents happen beyond our scope of reasonable care, although many are preventable. Should your duty of care become the central focus of a tort claim due to an injury on your premises, and you hold yourself faultless, it is best to retain a tort claims lawyer.
In fact, our office happens to handle tort claims. Instead of fighting the victim, work with our team to amicably resolve tort claims against you, especially if some or all of the accident was avoidable had the victim simply followed rules.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is a general guideline made available for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as legal advice for the reader's specific situation nor in general. By reading our blog and website content, the reader acknowledges the above and understands there is no lawyer-client relationship created between you and Himelfarb Proszanski through this content. To get specific legal advice, we encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers to clarify the legal aspects of your situation.