Occupiers’ Liability and Dangerous Premises Claims

Owners and occupiers have a legal obligation to ensure their property is reasonably safe. If this duty is not met and a visitor suffers injuries as a result, there may be grounds for a dangerous premises claim.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act

According to the British Columbia Occupiers’ Liability Act, the owners and occupiers of a property have a responsibility to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. This is to protect the health and safety of those who legally enter onto the property – be it a building, the grounds or a plot of land.

There are countless situations when we enter onto someone else’s property during the course of our everyday lives. Every grocery store has an owner or occupier who is responsible for our safety while we are shopping. The same applies to offices, restaurants, entertainment venues, gyms, parking lots, schools, sidewalks… the list goes on.

There are some exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, if an owner or occupier fails to take the necessary steps to make the premises reasonably safe, they have failed to meet their legal responsibility. If this results in a visitor suffering an accident, the injured person may be able to pursue a dangerous premises claim against the owner and/or occupier.

Types of dangerous premises claim

There are various ways in which a dangerous premises claim might arise, including:

  • Slips on snow and ice
  • Slips on wet floors
  • Trips over uneven flooring
  • Trips due to poor lighting
  • Injuries caused by defective structures
  • Falls due to a defective handrail (or no handrail)
  • Poorly maintained driveways, sidewalks and stairways

What to do after an accident on someone else’s property

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you believe that you have wrongfully sustained an injury on someone else’s property, you need to get expert legal advice. Before you do, however, we recommend that you collect as much evidence as you can. If possible, you should –

  1. Take photographs of the scene of the accident. Otherwise it may be tampered with later, making it hard to establish whether anything was amiss when you had your accident.
  2. Get the names and contact details of those who witnessed the accident.
  3. If the accident occurred on a commercial premises or public facility, ask to fill out an incident report at the premises in order to document the accident.
  4. Visit a doctor to ensure you get the right treatment. Sometimes we try to shake off an injury, when in fact medical intervention is required.

Personal injury lawyers Vancouver

When you are able, the next step is to contact our personal injury lawyers for expert legal advice.

It is recommended you act quickly in seeking legal advice, as there are time limits which can restrict your right to make a claim. Generally speaking, a claim must be brought within two years of an accident. However, a claim involving a dangerous premises owned or occupied by municipality has a special two month notice provision, during which the circumstances of the accident involving the dangerous premises must be reported in writing to the responsible municipality. Failure to report an incident to a municipality in time can lead to a denial of an injury claim.

There are a number of things to clarify before you can make a claim under the Occupier’s Liability Act. This includes –

  • Who is the owner/occupier of the premises? Often this is not clear and there may be more than one party responsible.
  • Did the owner/occupier make the premises reasonably safe?
  • If not, did this breach cause you to suffer your accident and injuries?
  • We can answer these questions for you, explaining whether or not you are able to pursue a claim for damages. If so, we can manage the entire process on your behalf.

Contact us now

To find out more about occupiers’ liability and dangerous premises claims, please contact us now at North Shore Law LLP.

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