Bill 118 shortens notice period for slip and fall claims due to ice and snow
by Lee Abraham, Associate, and Jessica DeFilippis, Student-at-Law, Beard Winter LLP
Incoming amendments to the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA) under Bill 118 (Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020) will have implications for both plaintiffs and defendants in slip and fall cases.
Notice requirements imposed on plaintiffs
Before Bill 118, plaintiffs had up to two years to commence an action for their personal injuries under the Limitations Act. This two-year period ran the inevitable risk of evidence becoming stale, memories of the circumstances becoming obscured and the recollection of weather conditions unknown.
With Bill 118, plaintiffs are now required to put the occupier or snow removal contractor on written notice within 60 days of the incident and must identify the date, time and location of the incident.
The new notice requirement will now place insurers in a greater position to defend slip and fall claims made against their commercial clients. Specifically, defendants will benefit from gathering evidence soon after the alleged incident and judicial decision-makers will have a greater ability to determine cases on the merits and based on evidence that has not gone stale.
It will also provide occupiers and snow removal contractors with the ability to swiftly resolve potentially hazardous conditions and prevent similar occurrences on their property.
If an injured party fails to provide prior written notice of the claim, it will not be a complete bar to a personal injury action. The notice requirement will be waived where the injuries resulted in the death of the injured person. Further, where notice is not provided or where there are deficiencies within the notice itself, an action can and will likely proceed where a judge determines that there was a reasonable excuse for failing to provide the required notice.
Notice requirements imposed on an occupier or independent contractor
The amendments under Bill 118 will also impose new notice requirements on occupiers and independent contractors:
- An occupier who receives prior written notice of a claim will be required to personally serve or send by registered mail a copy of the notice to any other person who was an occupier of the premises during the relevant period of time.
- Likewise, an independent snow removal contractor in receipt of prior written notice of a claim must personally serve or send by registered mail a copy of the notice to the occupier who retained them to perform the snow removal services.
- Unlike the 60-day time period which governs an injured person’s delivery of the notice, it appears that Bill 118 does not impose a similar time restriction on an occupier or independent snow removal contractor.
Bill 118 received Royal Assent on December 8, 2020, although it has not yet been entered into force.
For any questions regarding Bill 118, please reach out to our Insurance Litigation group.