Imagine you are going to the grocery store on a winter’s day in Nova Scotia. When you arrive, you notice that the parking lot has not been shovelled, and a thick layer of snow coats the pavement. As you step out of the car, you do not realize you are stepping onto a patch of ice hidden by the snow. Your feet slide out from under you, and you fall to the ground. Injured, you are taken to the hospital.
After you arrive home from your hospital visit, you wonder, is there anything that I can do to be compensated for my injuries? Just who was responsible for the accident?
Situations like these are an all-too-common occurrence in Nova Scotia. Many slips and falls only result in minor injuries, but it is not uncommon to see severe injuries such as broken bones, back injuries, and concussions when slipping on snow or ice.
When ice has not been salted or sanded or when it has been allowed to build up without any maintenance, this is a hazard. If you slip on the ice, you may have a personal injury claim. Whether you have a case ultimately depends on the specific facts of your slip and fall.
So, what can be done after a slip and fall accident?
What is a Slip and Fall on Snow or Ice Claim?
Slips are what happens when there is too little grip between the bottom of your footwear and whatever surface you are on. A slip can result from a lack of grip between your footwear and the surface you are standing on because it is covered by ice, which reduces grip. Even people who are wearing winter boots with grips on the bottoms can slip on patches of ice.
Trips are the result of your foot striking an object and a resulting loss of balance. A trip could result from your foot striking an outcropping of ice on the ground.
Slip and fall claims are simply personal injury claims that are brought about after one has slipped or fallen on someone else’s premises and suffered a resulting injury. Slip and falls on snow and ice claims are simply slip and falls that usually occur due to winter conditions.
Common Injuries Resulting from a Slip and Fall
There are many different types of injuries that can result from a slip and fall incident. Some of the more common injuries are below:
- Head injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injuries, resulting in ongoing seizures, mood changes, and cognitive impairment.
- Hip fractures typically require surgery and hospitalization as well as extensive rehabilitation.
- Back and spinal cord injuries may cause pain and limit mobility, including up to total paralysis.
- Shoulder injuries such as dislocation.
- Sprains and fractures often of the hip, spine, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, arm, or hand.
It is important to recognize that physical injuries are often accompanied by psychological impacts. If you are injured in a slip and fall, you are not limited to claiming for only your physical injuries. You can claim damages for psychological harm such as anxiety.
Common Locations for Slip and Falls on Snow and Ice
Examples of locations where people slip and fall on ice include parking lots and parkades, pathways to houses, driveways, porches, and outdoor stairs.
Often, slip and falls on snow and ice happen in these areas because the occupiers have failed to take steps to address snow and ice buildup, such as placing down salt or making sure that these areas are shovelled regularly.
Do I Have a Legal Claim for a Slip and Fall?
Slip and fall cases usually arise due to a failure of the owner to realize a danger or put protections in place to prevent dangerous situations. While a property owner might not have intended to cause harm, they have a legal duty to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for visitors.
To advance a slip and fall claim a victim must be able to show that someone was at fault for their injuries, to do this, they must show:
- The occupier owner was responsible for their injuries.
- The occupier was negligent.
When considering whether a property owner was negligent in ensuring the safety of their property, we look to three things:
- If they knew people would be on their property;
- If the people entering their property could recognize hazards or dangers; and
- If they made efforts to warn people of dangers, such as through placing warning signs.
Who is Responsible for My Slip and Fall?
All property owners and occupiers in Nova Scotia have a duty to ensure that their property is reasonably safe for visitors under the Occupier’s Liability Act. A property owner is someone who has possession of the property or who has control over the property, such as determining who can enter and what can be done on the property. When property owners fail to do something to ensure this safety and injuries happen, property owners can be found at fault for the injuries.
Who owns or is considered an occupier of the property can mean a variety of different things based on the type of land, consider the difference based on the type of property:
- Structures such as houses, apartments, or stores;
- Trailers; and
- Portable systems such as portable stages.
It is important to know that there does not have to be a single property owner for a property where you have had a slip and fall. There may be multiple people responsible for your accident.
If you are confused as to whether where your slip and fall happened can be considered
“property” or who the owner of that property would be, consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer who is trained in this area.
Can a Municipality be Responsible for a Slip and Fall?
In short, yes. Municipalities owe a duty of care to pedestrians to ensure their safety. You can sue municipalities for unsafe properties, which are:
- Owned by the municipality;
- Operated by the municipality; or
- Under the municipality’s jurisdiction.
Since snow removal for roads and sidewalks falls under municipal jurisdiction in Nova Scotia, you may hold the municipality accountable for slips and falls on snow and ice that happen there.
What Should I Do After a Slip and Fall on Snow or Ice?
The first thing you should do after a slip and fall is seeking out medical attention for any injuries which may have occurred. Once you have received medical attention, you should consider doing the following:
- Take pictures of the property where your accident happened. You should do this immediately after your injuries are treated to ensure that the property owner does not have a chance to clear any hazards.
- When taking pictures, pay special attention to hazards such as patches of ice or areas that were not shovelled.
- Ask for the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed your accident.
- Preserve your footwear. Your footwear can be important to a slip and fall claim on snow and ice. If you were wearing proper winter footwear with good grips, this can help support your claim.
What Facts Might Hurt My Slip and Fall Claim?
Pedestrians can contribute to their own falls, and when making a slip and fall claim it is important to consider the arguments that the other side will make against you. The other side may claim that you contributed to your own injury by:
- Wearing improper footwear for the season, such as heels or shoes with no grips on the bottoms.
- Being intoxicated.
- Being aware of the hazards that existed on the property.
- Walking too fast.
The other side may also make the argument that they did not owe you absolute safety on their property, only what was reasonable in the circumstances. If your slip and fall happened during a period where there were many frequent storms, the other side may make the argument that it was unreasonable for them under the circumstances to be able to continuously clear that much snow and ice away efficiently and that they did what was reasonable in the circumstances.
How Can NOVA Injury Help?
Slip and fall claims on snow and ice are complex cases and a lawyer who is dedicated to the practice of injury law is a necessity. Below are four ways that a good injury lawyer can help with your slip and fall claim:
- They can give you guidance about providing a statement; what to include and what to emphasize.
- They can help to get you medical care and provide guidance on receiving payment for your medical care; a personal injury lawyer can help you to navigate your insurance coverage.
- Knowledge of how to negotiate; going to court is expensive, and a personal injury lawyer can help ensure that your claim is properly negotiated so you can avoid the courtroom.
- Experience to assess how much your claim is worth; a personal injury lawyer can help you to understand parts of your claim that you might not have recognized, such as claims for family members having to help you with household tasks.
At NOVA Injury Law we will act on your behalf to advocate for you in your claim. We will help you to navigate through the complicated law in Nova Scotia around slips and falls and help ensure that there are no injuries or expenses overlooked.
The whole idea behind an injury claim is to reimburse people for their losses – and this is a wide-ranging task. To learn more about NOVA Injury Law’s approach to enforcing victims’ rights, contact us to book your free case review. During the free case review process, we will give you an honest opinion about your case, how much your personal injury claim might be worth, and what you should consider as your next steps. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a slip and fall, call NOVA Injury Law today for FREE CASE REVIEW at 1-800-262-8104.
If you are in need of legal advice or representation for your slip and fall on snow and ice claim and are located in Halifax, Bedford, or the wider Nova Scotia area, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. We also serve other areas of Atlantic Canada, including Prince Edward Island. Contact us today and tell us more about your claim – we are here to help!