Don’t Let Cold Winters Burn Through Your Savings!

Imagine looking out your window while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate on a winter day. Then, as you’re taking a sip, you see somebody walking on your sidewalk and, in a blink of an eye, they have slipped and fallen on an icy patch, and you know your peaceful morning is about to take a turn for the worse.

Living in Ontario, most people expect the seasonal uptake of shovelling and salting our driveways and sidewalks to keep these pathways safe for not only ourselves, but for others as well. Most would feel responsible if someone is hurt on our property, but from a legal standpoint, how much responsibility/liability do you really have?

Your Personal Legal Liability:

According to the Occupiers’ Liability Act, an individual who is injured from a slip and fall on snow or ice is allowed to bring a claim against (1) the occupier of the property and (2) any independent contractor that was employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice on the property.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act defines an “occupier” as (a) person who is in physical possession of premises, or (b) a person who has responsibility for and control over the condition of premises or the activities there carried on, or control over persons allowed to enter the premises.

Property occupiers, have a legal obligation under their “occupier’s duty” to have taken reasonable precautions to see that persons entering the premises, and brought on the property, are reasonably safe. A reasonable duty of care is one that can consist of shovelling and salting your property after it had snowed, whereas an example of providing unreasonable duty of care would be neglecting to maintain your driveway or sidewalk for weeks until it was completely frozen over by ice, creating a dangerous environment for anyone who entered the property.


There are certain exceptions that will relieve you from legal repercussions. Individuals who entered your property with the intention of committing, or are in the commission of, a criminal act such as trespassing, as they are deemed to have assumed all risks and are not afforded the same duty of care responsibilities from occupiers.


Winters can be tough, but its important to do your part and to make sure that you are not contributing to making this season even harder than it needs to be. Upholding your reasonable duty of care and ensuring that you are not neglecting your responsibilities of maintaining your driveway and sidewalks protects not only yourself from legal liability against any personal injury claims, but also just the safety and wellbeing of others.

Written by

Vithu Srikantha is an articling student at Avanessy Giordano LLP, a boutique personal injury law firm that prides itself on personalized care and the highest level of client service. He joins the AvaGio team after graduating from the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and has been able to assist its staff in ensuring injured clients receive the best support during their path to recovery during their personal injury claims.