You have rights if you have been injured on unsafe premises. Property owners and tenants have a legal duty to ensure that visitors do not suffer harm. When they fail in this duty, the occupier of the premises can be held liable for personal injury damages.
In British Columbia, claims involving injuries suffered on dangerous properties are governed by the Occupiers Liability Act. This legislation can be challenging for victims of property-related accidents to understand on their own. As such, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable occupiers’ liability lawyer in Vancouver as soon as possible.
Please call Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a FREE consultation with an occupiers’ liability lawyer. Our firm serves clients in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia.
What Is Occupier Liability Law?
If the occupier of a property fails to uphold the duty of care, the occupier can be held liable for injuries sustained by a person on the premises. Legally, the owner of the property may not be considered the occupier.
According to Section 1 of the Occupiers Liability Act, an occupier is a person who:
- “(a) is in physical possession of premises, or
- “(b) has responsibility for, and control over, the condition of premises, the activities conducted on those premises and the persons allowed to enter those premises”
Depending on the circumstances, a property or premises may have more than one occupier (e.g., the owner of a commercial space and a tenant on the property). In such a case, liability for an injury or accident may be shared by multiple parties.
Occupiers’ liability law concerns the rights of people injured on faulty or dangerous premises in British Columbia. As defined by Section 1 of the Occupiers Liability Act, types of premises include:
- “(a) land and structures …
- “(b) ships and vessels,
- “(c) trailers and portable structures designed or used for a residence, business or shelter, and
- “(d) railway locomotives, railway cars, vehicles and aircraft while not in operation”
The Occupiers Liability Act establishes the duty of care imposed on the occupiers of premises as it pertains to the safety of persons on the premises and those entering on the premises. A “duty of care” is the expectation placed on a party to avoid acts that may cause other persons harm.
According to Section 3 of the Occupiers Liability Act, an occupier has a duty to ensure that a person “will be reasonably safe in using the premises.” The Occupiers Liability Act also specifies that:
- “(2) The duty of care … applies in relation to the
- “(a) condition of the premises,
- “(b) activities on the premises, or
- “(c) conduct of third parties on the premises.
- “(3) … [A]n occupier has no duty of care to a person in respect of risks willingly assumed by that person other than a duty not to
- “(a) create a danger with intent to do harm to the person or damage to the person’s property, or
- “(b) act with reckless disregard to the safety of the person or the integrity of the person’s property.”
An occupier’s duty of care is limited when a person trespasses on the premises and when a person who is not provided living accommodation by the occupier enters on the premises for “recreational activity” without providing remuneration to the occupier. This more limited duty of care (see Occupiers Liability Act § 3(3.3)) applies specifically to premises used primarily for agricultural purposes, marked recreation trails, and “utility rights of way and corridors,” as well as rural premises that are marked as private roads, vacant or undeveloped, or forested and/or used for the purposes of forestry.
Similarly, limited liability entities (i.e., the government of British Columbia and the maintainer of a resource road) are also subject to the more limited duty of care as it pertains to an individual who “enters onto or otherwise uses a resource road” (see Occupiers Liability Act § 3.1). Resource roads include sections of road located on Crown land, as well as roads “used or intended for use by motor vehicles.”
Common Types of Occupiers’ Liability Claims
There are many different circumstances where the occupiers of premises may be held liable for injuries and accidents stemming from negligence. Some of the most common situations that give rise to occupiers’ liability claims include:
- Trip and Fall Accidents
- Dog Bites and Dog Attacks
- Negligent Security
- Inadequate Lighting
- Faulty or Dangerous Stairs
- Elevator and Escalator Accidents
- Falls from Unmarked/Unsecured Heights
- Accidental Drownings in Swimming Pools and Other Water Hazards
- Objects Falling from Heights
- Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals and Other Materials
- Unstable or Unsecured Ground or Flooring
Liability for these and other accidents may arise because the occupier failed to maintain safe conditions on the premises, failed to direct the activities of employees and third parties to minimize the risk of harm, and/or failed to provide adequate warning of potential hazards. It is crucial to take action promptly if you were injured by an unsafe condition on premises occupied by someone else, as the evidence in these claims can be short-lived.
Our Vancouver occupiers’ liability lawyers will investigate to determine how the negligence of the occupier(s) resulted in your injuries. We get started right away, preserving important evidence and building a strong claim on your behalf.
Potential Compensation in Occupiers’ Liability Claims
Accidents on dangerous premises can result in serious injuries. If the negligence of an occupier caused you to suffer injury on the premises, you may be entitled to significant compensation for the economic and non-economic damages you have incurred.
Occupiers’ liability lawyers at Klein Lawyers will seek to maximize compensation for you. We will pursue recovery of all losses to which you are entitled, including:
- Any medical costs you have paid or will have to pay in the future
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if your injuries render you unable to work
- The cost of household assistance and home-based medical care
- Medical-related travel and accommodation costs
- The cost of assistive devices and modifications to your home and vehicle
- Pain and suffering
Tragically, unsafe conditions on a property or premises can also lead to fatal accidents. If a loved one is killed due to the negligence of an occupier, a wrongful death action on behalf of the surviving spouse, parent(s), and/or child(ren) may be possible.
Klein Lawyers will fully evaluate the losses you and your loved ones have sustained as a result of a deadly occupiers’ liability accident. Our lawyers can help you navigate the challenges of the Family Compensation Act and seek maximum recovery for the loss of economic and household support, medical expenses, and the cost of a funeral and burial or cremation.
What Do I Need to Prove in an Occupiers’ Liability Claim?
There are four elements the plaintiff will need to prove for an occupiers’ liability claim to succeed. These elements are:
- The occupier owed you a duty of care. As discussed above, the duty of care for owners and tenants is enumerated in the Occupiers Liability Act.
- The occupier breached the duty of care. Specific evidence must be presented demonstrating that the occupier failed to take the necessary precautions and actions to ensure that the premises were “reasonably safe.”
- The breach caused your injuries. The evidence must show that your injuries were caused by the occupier’s negligence.
- You incurred damages as a result of your injuries. You must show that the injuries you sustained due to the accident on the premises led to damages. Damages in an occupiers’ liability claim may be economic and/or non-economic in nature.
It is often difficult for victims to collect the necessary evidence following a dangerous premises accident. Furthermore, the vast majority of people are unaware of their rights under British Columbia law, as well as the full extent of compensation they may be due.
You need a lawyer well-versed in occupiers’ liability law to help you build an effective case and obtain a favourable result. Klein Lawyers has extensive experience with personal injury claims, and our team can help you hold a negligent occupier accountable.
What to Do After an Accident on Premises Occupied by Someone Else
From commercial establishments to residential properties, injuries and accidents can happen on just about any type of premises. No matter where you are when you get hurt, there are steps you can take right away to start protecting your legal rights.
If you are seriously injured on the premises, your first and only priority should be getting medical care. Call 911 or the local emergency number and wait for paramedics to assess you. If necessary, you will be transported to the emergency department for further diagnosis and treatment.
There are additional steps you can take if you are not seriously injured and feel confident that you can move about the premises safely. If possible, you should do the following:
- Photograph the premises. Pay special attention to hazards or conditions that led to the accident, such as torn carpeting, uneven flooring, poor lighting, etc.
- Speak to witnesses in the area. If anyone else saw you get hurt, be sure to ask them what they witnessed and get their names and contact information.
- Make note of any cameras in the area. Video evidence can be hugely beneficial in an occupiers’ liability claim. A knowledgeable lawyer can request and obtain the footage on your behalf.
- Report the accident to the occupier. Commercial businesses and government entities may have an official procedure for reporting injuries on the premises. Filling out the necessary paperwork creates a record of the accident.
- Call the police (if necessary). Serious accidents and injuries sustained due to criminal activity should be reported to law enforcement promptly.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you are not seriously hurt or incapacitated, you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible if you were injured on dangerous premises. Some serious injuries do not have immediate symptoms. It is crucial not to assume that you are “fine” just because you feel fine.
One thing you should absolutely not do is deal with the occupier’s insurance company on your own. Insurance companies do not want to compensate you fairly; they want to pay as little as possible, and they will try to use any information you provide against you.
With this in mind, it is crucial to start working with an occupiers’ liability lawyer as soon as possible if you suspect negligence was a factor in an accident on another’s premises. Our team will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf with the goal of achieving a favourable settlement. In the event that a fair settlement cannot be reached, Klein Lawyers will be ready to take your case to court.
For more than 20 years, Klein Lawyers has been serving individuals who have been injured and families who have lost loved ones. Personal injury law is a substantial part of our practice, and a significant number of the claims we handle involve occupiers’ liability.
Occupiers’ liability law is complicated. You need experienced legal guidance to overcome the obstacles insurance companies put in place, as well as aggressive advocates who are committed to obtaining you a fair settlement or trial award.
Please call Klein Lawyers at (604) 874-7171 today for a free consultation. Our occupiers’ liability lawyers serve clients in Vancouver and throughout British Columbia.