Municipal Sidewalks

As we slug through the endless shoveling that is consistent with the weather in Canada in January, we are all, at least implicitly, aware of our obligation to maintain our driveways and walkways.  We have a legal obligation to keep our property reasonably clear of ice and snow.  What about the City, though?  Do they have a parallel obligation to keep municipal sidewalks clear of ice or snow?  The short answer is yes.

Municipalities have a statutory duty to maintain “roadways, including sidewalks, in a reasonable state of repair.  ” This statutory duty derives from the Municipal Act.  What is “a reasonable state of repair” will, as always, depend on the character and nature of the sidewalk in question.  For example, It is plain and obvious that the Municipality’s duty of care in respect of the sidewalk out front of a shopping mall would be different from that which is applicable to other less-travelled neighbourhoods.

A wintertime slip and fall on a Municipal sidewalk is critically different from a traditional wintertime slip and fall for two reasons.  Firstly, the Municipal Act sets out a 10-day notice period for reporting an accident on a Municipal sidewalk or roadway.  The failure to provide such notice will be a bar to any claim against the Municipality unless there is a “reasonable excuse” for the failure to do so.  Don’t miss this important deadline.  Call one of our experienced personal injury lawyers immediately if you have fallen on a Municipal sidewalk.  If you have already missed this deadline, don’t despair.  Missing this deadline may not be fatal to your claim, and there may be things that can be done to protect your rights.  Call one of our experienced personal injury lawyers immediately.

In addition to the strict notice requirement, the Municipal Act also incorporates a higher standard of negligence.  The Municipal Act states that “except in case of gross negligence, a municipality is not liable for a personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk”.  Whether a Municipality’s failure to maintain a sidewalk constitutes gross negligence is a question to be decided on the facts of each case.  This higher standard of negligence creates an additional challenge for would-be claimants.  Our experienced personal injury lawyers have experience litigating with Municipalities.  Level the playing field, and call us today to arrange your free consultation.

Tread carefully, my friends.