Another step to a limit on slip-and-fall claims

·3 min read

A bill to limit the claim period for “slip-and-fall” is headed for third reading after passing standing committee last week.

The private members’ bill originally looked to change the time limit to give notice of a claim, from two years to 10 days. That's the same limit used when a municipality is responsible for the area where someone falls.

In the end, the standing committee approved an amended version of Bill 118, changing the limit to 60 days rather than 10. Virtual presentations were heard last week on Nov. 9 and 12.

The courts would still be able to make exceptions to the limit when circumstances warrant it.

Written notice must give the date, time and location of the incident and go to at least one of the snow removal company or the occupier of the property, but doesn't need to include details of the claim.

In the Township of Southgate, as in other snowy parts of the province, snow removal operators have been faced with insurance hikes of as much as 500 percent this season. That’s on top of similar increases last year. And some insurers have simply stopped offering that coverage.

Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller put forward Bill 118 (Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act) last year, after hearing about the situation from residents in his area. It received first reading in May, 2019.

At that time members who spoke against the bill said it would place difficulties in the way of injured parties who might take more time either to realize the extent of their injury or to tofind the correct addresses than the shortened time period would allow.

Those who spoke in support said it would ensure the best evidence possible would be available. Mr. Miller said that when almost two years had passed from an incident, employees might have moved on and the recovering the details was much more difficult.

The snow removal insurance rate hikes tie into broader issues of law, such as joint and several liability.

The “one percent” rule means that even if a party is only one percent at fault, it may end up paying most of the court award if the party that’s more responsible doesn’t have the resources.

At the standing committee last week, large real estate owners like school boards and hospitals were among the presenters. Another speaker was Tony DiGiovanni, Executive Director of Landscape Ontario.

Already last winter, hikes in insurance had caused Landscape Ontario to call an emergency meeting of about 300 people in the industry. It members often offer snow removal in winter months.

“With no coverage, there will be no service. This is an extremely serious issue that will affect every member of the public,” Landscape Ontario said in 2019.

Mr. DiGiovanni at that time called snow clearing “essential” – before the term reached its present currency – and went on to say that snow removal operators keep the economy going.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald