Time and Liability Limits According to an Ottawa Personal Injury Lawyer
Suing a negligent party for damages is typically a very cut-and-dry thing when fault is clear and evident. When you have a slip or fall on a poorly-maintained property-and there is no reasonable excuse for the lack of maintenance-the occupier of the property can be held liable, and would be the defendant in your suit. After consulting with an Ottawa personal injury lawyer, you would take legal action against said occupier and, under the best circumstances, be compensated for your damages. So what happens if you are severely injured on poorly maintained public property? This property has no "occupier" as such, and therefore your defendant is not a single person. Instead, it's a governing body-the municipality. Guidelines for determining fault and taking action in such a case are outlined in Ontario's Municipal Act, 2001.
Before You Begin
Section 44 of the act concerns maintenance of city property. Before you decide to sue, you should take into account subsection (9):
Except in case of gross negligence, a municipality is not liable for a personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk. 2001, c. 25, s. 44 (9).
With winter finally upon us and slippery conditions starting to settle in, what does this mean for you? According to a personal injury lawyer in Ottawa, it means that it is not enough that conditions be poor for you to sue. If the city did not have sufficient knowledge of or opportunity to correct the dangerous conditions, it cannot be held liable. However, if the city was aware of the conditions and failed to act in a timely manner, it is subject to the Negligence Act, and liable for any injuries caused by its negligence.
A Matter of Time
As with many areas of law, there are time limits to bringing a suit against a city or municipality, commonly referred to as a statute of limitations. The limitation for notifying a municipality must be delivered to the city clerk within 10 days of the accident. While failing to meet this expectation does not automatically exclude your suit, if you cannot provide sufficient reason for the delay-such as being physically or mentally unfit to do so as a result of your injuries-your case may suffer as a result.
As with most lawsuits, the typical limitation period following your notice of intention to sue is two years. If you do not begin legal proceedings within two years of the date on which you provided notice, you will most likely be ineligible to sue.
To help ensure that you are able to begin legal proceedings in a timely and effective manner, consult with an experienced and qualified Ottawa personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.