Negligence and Occupier's Liability
We are all familiar with slapstick comedy; that is Hollywood’s portrayal of a slip and fall. It’s probably a black and white show, and some guy in a really fancy suit carrying an unimaginably large cake slips on a banana. Laughter and applause ensues. This sort of comedy might work in making us cheerful on a long winter night, but it also ensures our jobs as lawyers. What is funny in Hollywood can actually be a serious legal matter known as premises or occupier’s liability.
In any negligence claim, it is important to realize that one of the factors necessary to determine negligence is a duty owed to the plaintiff; if no duty is owed to the plaintiff, then there is no negligence. Every occupier of land has an affirmative duty to ensure that his or her property is reasonably safe. In order to determine if the occupier owes the plaintiff any duty at all, it is useful to employ the usual duty rule: if there is a risk reasonably to be perceived to the plaintiff then there is usually going to be a duty owed to that plaintiff. In other words, if it is foreseeable that a person could be in danger on a premises, then there is a duty owed to that person. That being said, there are many situations that can lead to injuries under the occupier’s liability heading because it is foreseeable that someone could be injured. Example of this may be a premises with poor lighting, slippery floors, falling objects, or damaged handrails. These kinds of issues come up in a variety of places: malls, cafes, restaurants, or even your neighbor’s house.
However, just because you fell and sustained an injury does not mean you necessarily have a case. While an occupier does have an affirmative duty to make sure the premises is safe, it is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the defendant failed to act in a reasonable manner. Because these can be complicated issues, contact Bergel, Magence, LLP at 416-665-2000 for a free consultation regarding your slip and fall. We have much experience with these sorts of cases, and some of us are even kind of funny.
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