Published on: January 16, 2018 by Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
Falls and resulting injuries can happen for any number of reasons, including accumulated ice, a water spill on the floor of the local grocery store or a cracked sidewalk. If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall due to these or other conditions, you may be considering legal action against the owner of the premises. Remember that only an experienced personal injury lawyer can properly advise you regarding the merits of your claim.
In British Columbia, the principal source of law governing the obligations of those who own or otherwise legally occupy property is the Occupier’s Liability Act, which states that anyone legally in control of any “premises” (including a ship or a stationary airplane or railroad car) has a duty of care to everyone who legally enters the premises to ensure that the person “will be reasonably safe in using the premises”.
Even a trespasser is entitled to the benefit of this duty of reasonable care, unless he enters with the intent to commit a crime or trespasses on agricultural or forested land for recreational purposes.
A landlord who is responsible for maintenance and repair to a rented property owes the duty of reasonable care to his tenant.
In the United States and many other western countries, the liability of government entities is limited by the doctrine of “sovereign immunity”, also referred to as “state” immunity. This doctrine bars or significantly limits an injured person’s right to pursue legal action against the government and has its roots in English common law, which granted the king or queen (who was, at least legally, considered infallible) absolute immunity from any criminal prosecution or civil action.
Canada, however, has chosen a narrower approach to state immunity. Consistent with this philosophy, Section 8 of the Occupiers Liability Act expressly states that the Act applies to most premises owned or controlled by the Crown or any lesser governmental entity.
Exceptions apply when the premises in question are a public highway or road (other than a recreational trail), a road under the Forest Act, most private and industrial roads and any “resource road”, defined as any road that is on Crown land and is used or intended for use by motor vehicles. Also, the duty owed by a “limited liability entity” (the government or a maintainer of a resource road) to a person who enters the resource road is limited to refraining from intentional or reckless misconduct.
Whether an occupier exercised reasonable care is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering a number of factors, including:
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as the result of a fall on another’s property, the experienced personal injury team at Diamond and Diamond is ready to help. Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations. Our team of personal injury lawyers represents clients throughout British Columbia.