Here’s a fictitious scenario. Let’s say you’ve slipped and injured yourself while out shopping at a mall, or perhaps you’ve slipped on some ice outside your favorite restaurant. Just because you are injured on someone’s property does not always mean that the property owner is at fault or liable to pay damages for your injuries. The duties of property owners are described in a case that I won in the, Court of Queen’s Bench : Saunders v. City of Calgary (Q.B.). This decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal : Saunders v. City of Calgary (C.A.).

By in large, property owners are expected to expected to make their property ‘reasonably safe’ for risks that are ‘reasonably foreseeable’.

You cannot assume that just because you have been injured, that someone failed to make their property ‘reasonably safe’. A property may be ‘reasonably safe’ and an accident can still occur. There are cases where the property owner has made reasonable efforts to make their property reasonably safe and the Court has determined the property owner is not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries (essentially finding that the injuries were not ‘caused’ by a failure of the property owner to all that was reasonably necessary).

Slip and fall cases always turn very closely on the individual facts involved. It is very important to try and get pictures of the scene of the slip and fall as soon after the event as possible. If you are unable to get pictures yourself, try to ask a passerby or friend to get pictures.

The duties of a property owner are set out in a specific piece of provincial legislation call the Occupiers’ Liability Act. The key sections of the Act are as follows:

s. 5 Duty of care to visitors
An occupier of premises owes a duty to every visitor in the occupier’s premises to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which the visitor is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there or is permitted by law to be there.

s. 6. When common duty of care applies
The common duty of care applies in relation to”
(a) the condition of the premises
(b) activities on the premises
(c) the conduct of third parties on the premises.

s. 7. Risks willingly accepted
An occupier is not under an obligation to discharge the common duty of care to a visitor in respect of risks willingly accepted by the visitor.

It important to note that a visitor is expected to take reasonable care of their own safety and expected to be wearing proper footwear and clothing for the weather conditions, walking at an appropriate pace and aware of their surroundings. If not, those facts would be considered by the Court and could result in contributory negligence attributed to the visitor:

If you have suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, contact us to discuss both your injuries and the facts surrounding the slip and fall. It is very important to describe the circumstances of the slip and fall in as much detail as you can remember. If there were witnesses to the slip and fall, try to get written statements from them as soon after the event as possible.