Narrowing the window of liability
Ontario Limits Slip and Fall Litigation — is the US next?
Martin Tirado, CEO
Many snow and ice companies in Ontario have recently faced massive increases in their insurance premiums. Sound familiar? Relevant to all of us, the increasing nature of loss claims and the threat of expensive litigation resulting from snow and ice slip and falls is the primary cause of these insurance increases.
All credit due to the members and staff of Landscape Ontario as they obtained support through a member of Parliament to pass the The Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, which took effect on January 1, 2021. For those who slip and fall, The Occupiers’ Liability Act reduces the time period to sue the operator for a personal injury claim from two years to 60 days.
This is a critical step in helping to alleviate rising insurance costs since it provides more of a degree of certainty to insurers that slip and fall claims will not arise unexpectedly two years after a claim occurs. The Act is specific to injuries or damage caused by snow and ice.
Documentation of work performed has come a long way, largely thanks to technology and the adoption of best practices. However, individual memory can be challenging when you’re trying to remember the details of a claim from an event that happened two years ago. The changing patterns of snow and ice makes this uniquely difficult as well. Winter conditions can change dramatically even 24 hours after a storm. A person cannot come back to a site days after a snow event and be able to see the exact conditions when a slip and fall may have occurred.
So what would it take to have similar legislation passed in your state or province? Considering there is precedent in Ontario, it’s certainly possible that something like this can be approved elsewhere. If your business has been hit with increasing insurance premiums and you have been brought into claims and litigation a year or more after the incident, it would be worth contacting your state legislator and their staff to discuss the impact this has had on your ability to do business.
This is business-friendly legislation, something many legislators are looking for. Contact SIMA to review some talking points since we are in communication with legislators who we feel would be open to introducing this change to become law.
Change is happening everywhere, let’s see if we can make some positive change in the snow and ice sector to continue to allow for safe and essential services for business and the public.
Martin Tirado, CAE, is SIMA’s Chief Executive Officer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414-375-1940.