What happens if Someone Slips and Falls on My Walkway?
One of the most frequent questions I get from friends and family is some variation of “If someone slips and fall on my walkway, can they sue me?” Given the current weather, the question seems particularly relevant.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act sets out the responsibilities that people have with respect to the condition (which includes ice and snow) of their premises. The Act does two things. First, it defines who has responsibility for the premises. Second, it sets out in general terms what a person must do with respect to the premises.
The people who have responsibility for the premises under the Act are “occupiers”. “Occupiers” include people who have possession of the premises or people who have care and control of the premises. This could include different people, depending on the circumstances. Generally speaking, if you have to shovel your sidewalk and driveway you are likely the “occupier” of the premises.
So, what does the law require you to do? The law requires that you take such care as is reasonable to see that persons entering the premises are reasonably safe. While there may be many other considerations, at minimum, it is reasonable to remove snow from areas where you know people walk. Salting and sanding ice is also a good idea.
Snow and ice present some risk, and they are a fact of life in Ontario. You are not required to completely remove the risk. You only have to do what is reasonable to make people safe.
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