In Ontario, a municipality is obligated to keep its roads and sidewalks safe for the public. If they neglect this duty and, as a result, somebody is injured on the unsafe road or sidewalk, the municipality may be held liable for the injured person’s damages.
Maybe you were injured in a car accident on a snow-covered icy road that had not been salted or plowed by city crews. Perhaps you were hurt when you caught your toe on an un-level sidewalk and fell to the ground. Or, it’s possible that an untended public sidewalk became dangerously icy and caused you to slip and fall and break your wrist. Examples of injury on municipal roads and sidewalks are plenty – but not all accidents or injuries are considered the result of municipal negligence.
A statute called the Municipal Act, 2001 sets out the rights and responsibilities of Ontario municipalities, including the details of when and why they can be held liable for failure to maintain their roads and sidewalks. A municipality is not automatically held liable for every injury that occurs on its roads or sidewalks.
If you have been injured and believe that a municipality is to blame, you should speak to a lawyer. He or she will be able to tell you whether or not a court might find the municipality at fault for your injury.
And, this is important – you need to move fast! Under the Municipal Act, 2001, you must, within 10 days of your injury, give the municipality “notice” of your injury and your intention to hold them responsible for it. The notice must be in writing and must be provided to the clerk of the municipality. Notice is required in order to provide the municipality with an opportunity to investigate your allegation(s) as soon as possible after your injury.
Subject to very rare exceptions to the rule about notice, if you do not give the municipality notice within 10 days of your injury, you will be barred from bringing a lawsuit against it.
This article is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions, please contact us at 519-946-4300.