In Ontario, people who are injured in falls can recover damages when the conditions that resulted in a slip and fall were caused by the negligence of others.
When people are injured in a fall, their immediate focus is on their symptoms and getting medical attention. They do not think about collecting important evidence right after a fall. If you are injured in a slip and fall, there are several things that you should do to collect evidence and preserve your legal rights:
- Determine the Location
This may seem obvious, but it is extremely important to determine the precise location of your fall. Get the municipal address of where you fell so you can determine the owner of the property. Even if you think that you fell on a municipal sidewalk or road, it is important to get the municipal address of the closest property. You cannot always be certain whether the location is public or private property; so it is best to get the municipal address.
- Provide Notice Without Delay
Municipalities are entitled to receive notice of a fall within 10 days. If you do not give notice within 10 days, you may lose your right of action against the municipality. So, if there is even the slightest chance that your slip occurred on a public sidewalk or road, deliver a notice containing details of the date, location, and time of your fall, and a summary of your injuries, to the appropriate municipality.
- Get Witness Details
Having witnesses to your fall can be very important. Independent witnesses can support your claim by commenting on the conditions which caused you to fall. If someone gives you assistance, be sure to obtain their name and contact information.
- Save Your Shoes
The shoes you were wearing when you fell are very important to the success of your claim. The type of shoes you were wearing, and their condition, can help establish that they did not contribute to the cause of your fall. Defendants in slip and fall cases inevitably blame the injured person’s footwear for the fall. It is therefore very important that you preserve the shoes until your claim is resolved. You should avoid wearing the shoes to maintain them in the condition they were in when you fell. By preserving your shoes you will have evidence to rebut any accusation by the person responsible for the condition of the location where you fell, that the fall was caused or contributed by your shoes. It is a good idea to take photographs of your shoes, including the soles, showing their condition at the time of the fall.
- Take Photographs
The surface conditions present at the time of your fall may change quickly. It is important to take photographs recording those conditions, and the fall location, as soon as possible. The photos of the surface conditions should include closeups, giving a clear picture of the hazard which caused your fall. The photos of the fall location should include panoramic photos to show where it was in relation to other landmarks, such as buildings, stairs or curbs. A good selection of photos can be crucial in establishing the fault of the person responsible for maintaining the location where you fell.
These five recommendations will help you maintain and prove your entitlement to compensation after a slip and fall injury, but they can be difficult to perform right away. Hiring a competent lawyer as soon as possible after being injured in a fall will ensure that they are completed as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
This blog post was written by Edward (Ted) Masters, a member of the Disability Insurance Claims and Personal Injury teams. He can be reached at 613-566-2064 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.