Winter is upon us and so are long-awaited changes to the Occupier’s Liability Act. Bill 118 implements a 60-day notice period for slip and fall injuries due to snow and ice on private property. The changes will assist occupiers in investigating claims in a timely manner and may lead to a decrease in the overall number of slip and fall claims in the Province.

The notice requirement is similar to the 10-day notice period for slip and falls on municipal property. However, 60 days was proposed on third reading of Bill 118 to allow ample time to identify the occupier or snow removal contractor. This balances the rights of the injured party to seek compensation with the right of occupiers and contractors to investigate and preserve evidence for their defence.

The changes require not only notice, but sufficiently detailed notice, which must include the date, time, and location of the incident. Notice must be personally served or sent by registered mail to either the occupier or the contractor responsible for snow removal within the 60-day period. The action is barred if there has been no notice after 60 days, with few exceptions.

In cases where there are multiple occupiers and/or contractors, notice only needs to be served on one party to fulfill the obligation. The occupier or contractor who is served with the notice is then required to serve the other occupiers or contractors. However, additional parties may be added to the action after initial notice has been completed, including third party defendants.

These amendments are no doubt a welcome change for private property owners, tenants and snow removal contractors who may have otherwise went unaware that a slip and fall occurred on their property until the two-year anniversary. From a defence perspective, it is always helpful to defend a claim where notice is given early and there is an opportunity to investigate – in these cases, ideally before the offending snow/ice melts!

Read Bill 118 Here