Making Sense of the Ontario Occupiers' Liability Act and How It Affects You
In cases of criminal negligence and liability, everything can potentially hinge on one factor, and that is the duty of care. This is a duty owed by the occupier of a premises to any person who enters that premises. In such cases, it is up to an Ottawa injury lawyer to prove that the defendant failed to perform this duty to an acceptable standard. To give you a more comprehensive explanation of what a duty of care entails, we will go through the various components of Ontario's Occupiers' Liability Act of 1990.
Who Owes a Duty-and Where?
The first section of the Occupiers' Liability Act sets out two definitions: "occupier" (the person who owes a duty of care) and "premises" (the place in which this duty applies). An occupier can either be the person who owns or lives on a premises, a person responsible for the conditions of a premises, or a person with control over who is allowed to enter a premises.
As for a premises-it can be any land or structure, including everything from apartments, houses, and buildings to bodies of water, ships, and even parked railway cars.
So What Is a Duty?
According to section 3, subsection (1):
"An occupier of premises owes a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that persons entering on the premises, and the property brought on the premises by those persons are reasonably safe while on the premises."
What this means in plain English is that whenever you enter a premises, it is the paramount responsibility of the occupier to ensure your safety to a reasonable degree. This means that if they are reasonably aware of any unsafe conditions or activities that may cause injury, they are obligated to either correct the condition, inform you, or otherwise prevent you from being harmed. An Ottawa injury lawyer may not be able to make a case for negligence if it can be proven that the occupier could not have known about the danger beforehand, or not have been reasonably expected to prevent it.
However, this doesn't mean that you are exempted from a reasonable degree of responsibility for yourself, too. There is a duty to mitigate-this means that you are not legally entitled to recover damages which could have been avoided by taking reasonable measures towards your own safety. In other words, if you are at complete fault for your own injury on another's property, you cannot be compensated. However, fault can be divided. Still, it is best not to knowingly engage in any unsafe behaviour, no matter whose property you're on-for more than just legal reasons!
If you have been injured in an event which you believe could have been prevented had an occupier adhered to their duty of care, your best course of action is to contact an Ottawa injury lawyer at your earliest opportunity.