If a person in Ottawa is injured while on a property, they may be able to sue the occupier of that premises for damages. This area of law is known as “occupiers’ liability,” and in such a case, liability is proved by establishing a breach of the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA). For the injured party to have a successful claim, they must establish that their injury was caused by the occupier’s failure to take reasonable care to ensure that conditions were satisfactory while the person was on the property.
One of our well-practised Ottawa occupiers liability lawyers can help you hold a negligent landowner accountable. Consider working with one of our personal injury lawyers for assistance with your legal case against an irresponsible property owner.
The law establishes separate levels of proof for different classes of persons. A person who is invited is entitled to expect the occupier to use reasonable care to prevent damage from an unusual danger that they know or ought to know exists; this same level of duty of care is owed to licensees. Trespassers, however, can only successfully sue an occupier if they were injured by a willful act involving something more than the absence of reasonable care. This would include a deliberate act designed to harm the trespasser or something done with reckless disregard as to the presence of the trespasser.
Toward the contractual entrant an occupier has been seen to owe a duty to make the premises as safe as the reasonable care and skill on the part of anyone can make them. The difference in duties owed to the various categories of entrants made the selection of a category particularly important. The inflexible nature of the categories was such the courts caused themselves no ends of worries.
The statutory duty set out by OLA is far-reaching and applies in most situations in Ottawa. However, the OLA contains a few notable exceptions to the general duty, including a provision that allows entrants to willingly assume a risk when entering onto a property. In such a case, the occupier only owes a duty to the person to avoid creating a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage and to not act with reckless disregard for the presence of the person. Persons who have entered a premises with the deliberate intention of committing a criminal act are deemed to have willingly assumed all risks and are subject to this lower duty of care.
This lower standard of care applies in cases of trespassers under the Trespass to Property Act, persons entering rural and certain other types of property for the purpose of recreational activity, and those who have not paid an entrance fee. Section 10(2) of the OLA excludes any municipal corporation or the Crown in respect to public highways and public roads, including sidewalks.
While the introduction of the OLA certainly streamlined the law in this area and made it more predictable, it did not end the evolution of the law in Ontario regarding occupiers’ liability. Indeed, one area that the OLA did not address was that of causation.
The OLA does, however, leave some room for interpretation of several areas of the Act, including provisions relating to independent contractors and those who are alleged to have willingly assumed the risk on entry. Our lawyers are experienced in premises liability law and can help interpret the Occupiers’ Liability Act to your advantage to protect your right to compensation. Reach out to our Ottawa occupiers liability lawyers today for a free consultation.
Nicholson Gluckstein Lawyers