The year 2020 brought many changes. This blog post discusses another change from 2020 that came to stay: the Ontario Occupiers' Liability Act ("OLA") now requires 60-day written notice for incidents involving snow or ice.

On December 8, 2020, Bill 118 received Royal Assent and came into force on January 29, 2021. The Bill introduced a change to the OLA. The change requires a person who suffered an injury involving snow or ice to give written notice within 60 days from the event to the occupier (e.g. tenant, property owner, property manager, etc.) or to any independent contractor employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice on the premises during the relevant period in which the injury occurred.

Ultimately, the notice represents a limitation of only 60 days before a claim to recover damages for injuries related to snow or ice can be barred. Prior to Bill 118, an injured person had generally up to two years before they could be barred from bringing a similar claim.

Generally, the only exceptions to the new 60-day notice requirement are:

a) if the incident results in fatal injury, or

b) if a judge finds that there is a reasonable excuse for why a notice was not provided or insufficient, and the defendant is not prejudiced by a late notice.

The written notice of the claim must include date, time and location of the occurrence. It has to be personally served or sent by registered mail to:

a) at least one of the occupiers of the premise where the incident happened, or

b) the independent contractor employed by the occupier to remove snow or ice from the premises during the period in which the injury occurred.

It suffices that the 60-day notice is provided to at least one of these persons (listed in the paragraph above) for an injured person to be able to bring an action against other persons that may have not originally received the notice.

Generally, the rationale behind the requirement for notice is that the occupiers and independent contractors have the opportunity to investigate the location of the incident forthwith and collect surveillance footage as well as statements from witnesses that may have knowledge of the incident.

It is also worth noting that the change in the OLA is not restricted to slip and fall incidents related to snow or ice. Rather, the OLA extends this new requirement to all incidents involving snow or ice.

It is crucial not to miss limitation periods when bringing an action. Contact a lawyer if assistance is required to determine the limitation period applicable to your situation and to have your rights duly protected.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.