The snow is melting all day and freezing all night. It’s a pedestrian nightmare out there. Slipping and falling on ice is an Alberta hazard at this time of year. Alberta slip and fall accidents typically occur in parking lots or on sidewalks. Although it is almost universally true that property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care when it comes to maintaining these areas and promptly removing snow and ice to reduce the risk of falls and injuries, the duty differs depending the property owner’s identity.
If the area is occupied by a business, very often that business will have contracted with a snow removal company to keep its parking lots and sidewalks clear for pedestrians. This may enable the property owner to shift the blame for poor conditions to a maintenance company however, it doesn’t take away the fact that there is a responsibility of that business to the pedestrian. Businesses have a duty to maintain all walkways however, they do not have an absolute duty to create an impossibly perfect environment notwithstanding the conditions. The question to ask is whether the property owner’s conduct was reasonable considering all of the circumstances.
Homeowners also have a duty to maintain their sidewalks and driveways, including the portion of the city sidewalk that runs along their own properties. However, the standard of care for homeowners won’t be as strict as for businesses and will differ for the part owned by the city and the part on their own property.
Remember also, as a pedestrian, you have a duty to exercise reasonable care when walking in an area you either know or should reasonably expect will be snowy or icy. That means you are expected to wear reasonable footwear and maintain a reasonable pace. Failing to do so may either reduce your recovery in a potential lawsuit or bar any recovery completely.
Sound confusing? It often is. That’s why if you are injured in a fall on ice, you need to take 2 steps as soon as you are able:
1. Take a photo of exactly where you fell (if you are medically unable to do so, send a family member back as soon as possible and hopefully prior to the conditions changing); and
2. Call Robinson LLP. Every case is different and BEFORE you speak to an insurance adjuster or give a statement that won’t necessarily help your case, you should at least have the legal facts and a little advice. It’s free…take advantage!