How to enjoy your cottage and not get sued this summer

A trip to the cottage can be a wonderful way to enjoy summer weather outdoors.  With proper preparation and exercise of caution, you can ensure you and your guests have a relaxing and accident-free visit. 

Your obligations as a cottage owner

As a cottage owner in Ontario, you have a legal duty to ensure your property is safe for guests.  Failure to take reasonable care could result in civil liability if a visitor is injured while at your cottage or on your property.

Under Ontario’s Occupiers’ Liability Act, anyone in physical possession of a property or who has responsibility for and control over its condition must ensure that people are reasonably safe while on the property.

What is “reasonably safe” will depend on the particular circumstances, but generally speaking, you must take reasonable steps to ensure that the cottage, docks, porches, decks, waterfront, boats, trailers and the land are safe for visitors and/or renters of your cottage.  This is particularly important in a cottage environment, where the landscape is likely more difficult to navigate than an urban home, and where guests and visitors are more likely to be engaging in physical activities.

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About the Authors

As a partner at Oatley Vigmond, Lara Fitzgerald-Husek uses her empathy, creativity, and trial experience to connect with her clients and help them move forward after trauma. Lara focuses her practice solely on personal injury, and she is determined to get her clients the best possible outcome—the one they deserve.

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