Most of Canada has emerged from winter’s grip, but many Canadians are still grappling with the fallout from a long, cold, stormy season. In 2016-2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, almost 9,000 Canadians were hospitalized due to falls on ice, according to Canadian Underwriter and the Canadian Institute for Health Information. And, as some Toronto slip-and-fall lawyers could predict, data from across the country suggests this winter may have been even worse.
An unusually harsh winter
In Montreal, the McGill University Health Centre reported a significant year-over-year increase in hospitalizations due to falls on ice, with a notable surge occurring near the end of January. The city recorded 191 centimetres of snowfall during January and February, equal to the average annual total. That time span also featured heavy rains and dramatic temperature fluctuations. Mary Stark, the executive director of Montreal’s Contactivity Centre for senior citizens, told Canadian Underwriter unpredictable weather was a season-long issue.
“It’s been difficult for everyone, but it has been difficult for seniors in particular,” Stark said. “Some of the things we’ve recommended in the past in countering that kind of situation just don’t cut it.”
Slipping and falling on ice is a rite of passage in Canada. It happens to all of us from time to time; in fact, it is the nation’s leading cause of winter injuries. For vulnerable individuals – people with mobility issues, the elderly, etc. – it can be a serious, even life-changing event. Common injuries like wrist and ankle fractures or head trauma can have a devastating impact on seniors’ quality of life.
It wasn’t only Montrealers who had to grapple with an unusually severe winter. In Ottawa, suburban residents said they felt neglected by city cleanup crews as they struggled to maintain the downtown core. Toronto was also under strain, as local slip-and-fall lawyers know: the city received more than 1,700 service requests for icy sidewalks during December, January, and February, a 120 per cent increase over 2017-2018.
Legal options for slip-and-falls
Slip-and-fall victims have the right to pursue compensation when they sustain injuries on municipal property, but history isn’t on their side. Canadian Underwriter reports that just two of 147 Toronto claims for icy sidewalk slip and falls were paid out in 2017; just three of 173 claims were granted in Montreal last year.
As one Toronto-area personal injury lawyer told the publication: “They’re not going to be held to a standard of perfection. They city or the municipality – they are afforded generous protections. It’s kind of impossible for (the municipality) to get every single speck of ice off the ground when they’re covering so much area.”
“It’s Canada,” the lawyer concluded, “you’re not going to stop winter.”
Contact an experienced slip-and-fall lawyer
If you’ve been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team of experienced personal injury and slip-and-fall lawyers can assess the viability of your claim and provide guidance as your work toward recovery.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Luke Waack