The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports nearly 9,000 hospitalizations between 2016 and 2017 due to falls on ice during winter – Ontario accounts for 2,111 of these. Slip and falls due to ice, in fact, happen to be by far the single biggest reason for hospitalizations amongst all types of sport and winter related injuries in Ontario.
To many, slipping and falling on ice seems a naturally concurring aspect of winter weather; really, it is a sign of property – private or public – not made safe for thoroughfare. Injuries can range from mild sprains to spinal cord injuries, requiring prolonged medical treatment, and causing long term disability and loss of livelihood.
What should you do after a slip and fall injury?
Despite their high incidence and propensity to cause injury, there pervades an unawareness of how slip and fall claims work, what rights the injured have, and how they should proceed ex post.
Though each slip and fall accident will preface its own unique circumstances, here are ten pointers that can be helpful for just about any slip and fall incident:
Bring the accident to attention
Whether to the property owner, manager or municipal authority, a slip and fall accident must be brought to their notice as soon as possible after the incident.
Seek professional medical opinion immediately after the accident. A slip and fall accident can be particularly dangerous if pain doesn’t manifest immediately. Injuries can go ignored or exacerbate later if left untreated. A formal process will also mean injuries sustained will be attributed to the accident and will withstand scrutiny better.
Inspect the scene
Start by looking around the scene of the accident. A cursory glance will give you the point of a view an ordinary pedestrian would carry. Then inspect more closely the spot where your accident occurred. Was there a pothole where a foot could get trapped, subsidence where water could collect, an unexpected change in surface? Were surrounding areas devoid of ice, and it was only this spot that had not been cleared?
When did the accident happen: the time, under what circumstances? These are the kinds of salient details that must be recorded in writing. These will help provide context to the incident and assist your slip and fall lawyers in Toronto assess the case most accurately.
From details of the incident, any witnesses, medical treatment sought, any interaction with those responsible for the property, communication with insurers, and any other documentation must be retained. Claims often delve into the nitty-gritties of the accident and documentation can bolster your case.
Photographs, especially immediately after the accident are a vital tool in any claim or suit pursued. Make sure to capture details of the accident adequately, and with sufficient context to explain how it came to pass.
Call your lawyer
The first port of call after the accident (and medical treatment) must be your slip and fall lawyers in Toronto. Professional advice is essential at this stage, to ensure evidence regarding the accident is collected. That, and they will guide you on the sensitivities of possible claims.
Don’t divulge information
Until you have spoken to your lawyers, it is best to avoid invitations to talk at length about the incident. This includes avoiding confrontation with the property owner/manager, insurance companies, and posting anything on social media.
Remain calm and composed
Remaining calm and composed is key to ensuring the fairest outcome. Committees and courts assessing claims will find unfavourably for any claimant who displays impatience or some such unbecoming conduct.
Slip and fall accidents may have time limits for filing notice or claim. And there can be some fairly onerous requirements for the injured party to file them too. Take for instance the City of Toronto, which requires formalities such as diagrams of the accident scene and supporting documentation – and grants only 10 days to file a letter of claim. The longer you can give your slip and fall lawyers in Toronto, the greater the chances of your claim being more concretely established.
How does a slip and fall claim work?
Background research into claims is an essential part of establishing a slip and fall claim or lawsuit that is likely to succeed. Whether it is a persistent fault that resulted in the accident or a foreseeable hazard that would have been accounted for ordinarily, negligence plays an important role in determining fault. For instance, Crinson v Toronto (City), a 2010 decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario talks of the plight of a man injured after slipping on a sidewalk. Due to the strong narcotics he had to take due to the injuries sustained, he was unable to file a letter of claim within the requisite 10 days of the accident occurring. The trial judge dismissed the suit, rejecting explanations for the delay and the case put forward.
At appeal, however, the court overturned the decision, determining that additional time for filing a letter of claim was warranted given the medical exigencies involving the claimant. Just as importantly, the court noted,
“In sum, the evidence at trial established that almost 34 hours elapsed from the time the City became aware of dangerous sidewalk conditions and when it responded. The City offered no explanation for why the sidewalks were not addressed…when the City first became concerned about the weather, although the roads received significant attention.”
The case is an apt illustration of the difference great background research, expertise and experience skilled personal injury lawyers can bring to bear. At Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers, slip and fall cases are a specialty of ours. We understand the nuance and the depth that must be gone into to succeed in slip and fall accidents.
What to do after a trip and fall?
With over 45 years of experience handling such types of personal injury claims, we help you assess your options with exceptional insight. Our slip and fall lawyers have handled cases of all types and we advocate for our clients to bring the most favourable outcome for them.