Proving Liability in Trip and Fall Cases

broken bricks creating a tripping hazard on brick sidewalk

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of tripping and falling while visiting a public space like a restaurant, amusement park, or pool. The result can be painful, leaving us with a broken bone or sprained ankle, and expensive, costing hundreds or thousands in medical expenses.

Sometimes falls are accidents that are caused by distractions or our own carelessness. However, in some instances, a trip and fall is the direct result of a property owner or occupier failing to uphold their duty of care owed to guests and visitors by maintaining a safe and hazard-free space.

It is critical to note that not every trip, slip, and fall is the result of a property owner’s negligence. In order for the victim of a trip and fall incident to be entitled to compensation, it is vital to establish liability by proving the negligence of the owner and/or occupier. An experienced lawyer can help trip and fall victims navigate this complex process and obtain the compensation they deserve. In this blog, we will explore how liability is established in trip and fall cases.

Determining Liability in a Trip and Fall Claim

In trip and fall cases, generally speaking, there are three essential elements that serve to establish the liability of a property owner:

  1. The property owner and/or occupier should have had reasonable knowledge or were aware (or thought to have been aware) of a potentially hazardous or dangerous condition that was present on the property.
  2. The property owner and/or occupier did not address the potentially dangerous condition timely, failing to ensure their property was a safe and hazard-free space.
  3. The injured party was acting in a reasonable manner when the trip and fall injury occurred.

In addition to these three fundamental elements, there may also be some special considerations taken into account when the court is determining liability. These considerations may not apply to every case. They may include:

  • The age of the person who was injured in a trip and fall
  • The specific circumstances of their entry to the property
  • The knowledge the occupier and/or property owner possessed regarding the likelihood of people accessing the property
  • The ability of the trip and fall victim to understand the potential danger and hazards posed to them
  • The effort made by the occupier and/or property owner to discourage or warn people of the risk of accessing the property
  • The effort made by the occupier and/or property owner to offer some protection from risks posed to visitors of the property

Occupiers’ Liability

Like many Canadian provinces, British Columbia has enacted legislation, called the Occupiers Liability Act, which serves to establish the legal duties of persons and entities who occupy a property. According to the Act, an occupier is defined as a person who “is in physical possession of premises” or a person who “has responsibility for, and control over, the condition of premises, the activities conducted on those premises and the persons allowed to enter those premises.”

The Occupiers Liability Act defines the duty of care a property owner or occupier owes to persons who visit their property. The Act states that the occupier of a premises has a duty to act with “care that in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that a person … will be reasonably safe in using the premises.” The duty of care is owed regardless of whether or not the hazardous or dangerous conditions are a result of the condition of the premises or related to an activity that takes place on the premises. The Occupiers Liability Act applies in most cases in British Columbia when a trip and fall claim is brought against a private property owner or commercial establishment. There are some circumstances wherein the Occupiers Liability Act would not apply, which include:

“(a) an employer in respect of the employer’s duties to an employee,

(b) a person under a contract for the hire of, or for the carriage for reward of persons or property in, any vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other means of transport,

(c) a person under the Hotel Keepers Act, or

(d) a person under a contract of bailment.”

Evidence Needed

In trip and fall cases, the more evidence you can provide that demonstrates the property owner or occupier’s negligence, the stronger your claim will be. Evidence included in trip and fall claims can include:

  • Witness statements
  • Maintenance and cleaning logs
  • Inspection records and reports
  • Policies, standards, and procedures regarding the maintenance of the property
  • Employee training records
  • Police reports
  • Ambulance records
  • Emergency room records
  • Additional medical treatment records, including surgical records, physical therapy records, and psychological records
  • Photographs of the area where the fall occurred, taken immediately before or after the incident
  • Photographs of the footwear the victim was wearing at the time of the incident
  • Video recording of the area where the fall occurred, taken immediately before, during, or after the incident
  • Expert engineer reports

Limitation Periods for Trip and Fall Claims

If you have been injured as the result of a property owner’s negligence, you have a finite amount of time wherein you can take legal action against them. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. In Canada, each province has established its own specific statutes for different types of claims. In British Columbia, in most cases, you have up to two years from the date of your trip and fall-related injury to file a claim.

Exceptions to the two year statute of limitations include claims against municipalities which are subject to the limitation periods set out in the Municipal Act. If you sustain an injury from a trip and fall that occurred on property that is owned or operated by a municipality, you must provide written notice within two months of the date of the incident. You then have six months within which to start a legal action against the municipality.

If you do not give notice within the specified time frame, you may lose your ability to receive compensation for your slip and fall injuries. If you fail to file your claim within the applicable limitation period, you will be barred from doing so and, thus, unable to recover compensation for your injuries and losses.

Because determining the applicable statute of limitations is complex and nuanced, it is critical that you contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after your injury. Their knowledge and expertise will provide the guidance and support you need so that your legal rights are protected, and you can get the compensation you justly deserve. The earlier you seek out an experienced trip and fall lawyer, the better. This will allow them more time to investigate your claim, review all the pertinent facts of your case, and request any and all records necessary to establish liability in your claim.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured as a Result of a Property Occupier’s Negligence?

Klein Lawyers has an outstanding track record of handling trip, slip, and fall cases. We understand how to identify and investigate trip, slip and fall incidents and determine whether or not there was negligence on behalf of the property owner and/or occupier. We have the resources, knowledge, and experience that injured British Columbians need to get the justice and compensation they deserve.

We will start by conducting an in-depth investigation of the evidence in your case. We will take the time to really listen to your story, obtain any registry searches, incident reports, medical records, and witness statements and thoroughly evaluate your potential claim. During the case, we will retain key experts to establish the critical details of the injury that occurred. We strive to make this process as easy for you as possible. You can focus on your life while we focus on your case.

We keep you informed throughout the entire case, so you never feel like you are in the dark. We want you to understand the process and feel comfortable asking any questions along the way. Too often, we hear concerns expressed by potential clients about what the process will be like, what they will need to do, and how often they will hear from their lawyer. We will make it clear right from the start so that you know what to expect, and we will stay true to our commitment to you. Communication and transparency are important to our team, and you will recognize that as our client.

Klein Lawyers Can Help

Klein Lawyers has over 30 years of success and experience in the legal field. During that time, we have worked hard to earn the trust and respect of British Columbians who need legal representation. Working with an experienced lawyer is critical, and our team understands the trust clients place in us when we are representing them. We value that trust and feel honoured that so many clients choose our law firm to fight for them. We are passionate about obtaining the best possible outcome for our clients.

Contact Us Today

Contact the Klein Lawyers team today at (604) 874-7171 for a free consultation with a Vancouver trip and fall lawyer. We serve clients injured in British Columbia and Class Action and Mass Tort clients throughout Canada. There is no obligation, and your consultation is completely confidential. We are here to help victims of a property owner and/or occupier’s negligence receive the justice they deserve.