Most of the time, the sidewalk in your neighbourhood is probably a safe and convenient place to go for a stroll. However, sometimes sidewalks can shift, crack, deteriorate, and in the winter season become covered in ice or snow. When a dangerous condition is present and leads to a fall and injury, can the municipality be held responsible?
If the condition was related to the accumulation of ice or snow, a municipality will only be held responsible if it was “grossly negligent” in its failure to keep the sidewalk clear. Gross negligence has not been clearly or consistently defined by Ontario’s courts. Rather, it has been said that a finding of gross negligence depends on the facts of each case. If the condition was not related to ice or snow, standard principles of negligence apply. In other words, if the municipality acted unreasonably and this caused injury, liability may follow.
There are very short notice provisions for injuries occurring on municipal property. As such, it is important to bring such injuries to the attention of a lawyer or the appropriate municipal office as soon as possible.