Common Occupiers’ Liability Claims in Vancouver
In British Columbia, property owners are required to take reasonable care to keep their premises free of hazards. But if a dangerous condition on the property causes an accident that injures another, victims may be entitled to seek compensation through an occupiers’ liability claim.
Occupiers’ liability cases typically arise from slip, trip, and fall accidents. But other incidents that occur on others’ property, such as dog bites, also fall under the umbrella of occupiers’ liability law in Canada.
Were you hurt in an accident at a business, park, home, or other property in B.C.? You shouldn’t have to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses if someone else was careless. The Vancouver occupiers’ liability lawyers at Warnett Hallen LLP will fight aggressively for you to receive the compensation you’re owed for your injuries.
Our attorneys can meet with you in a free, one-on-one consultation to discuss your rights and review your legal options. Call us today to get started.
What Does Occupiers’ Liability Mean?
Occupiers’ liability means that people who are harmed due to an unsafe condition on another’s property can demand compensation for their injuries. But like all other personal injury cases, you must be able to prove that whoever was in control of the premises was negligent. This is not always as easy as it sounds.
Being injured on someone else’s property does not necessarily mean you have an occupiers’ liability claim. That’s true even if you were injured by a dangerous or unsafe condition on the property. For example, if you were trespassing on the premises, you wouldn’t have a claim even if you were hurt by an obviously hazardous condition, such as a broken handrail on a stairway.
Because so much depends on the facts of your individual case, it’s highly recommended that you talk to a Vancouver occupiers’ liability lawyer to determine whether you have a valid claim.
Common Causes of Occupiers’ Liability Lawsuits
Some of the most common causes of injuries that lead to occupiers’ liability lawsuits in British Columbia include:
- Slipping on snow and ice
- Broken pavement, sidewalks, or potholes
- Broken or loose floors
- Loose/torn carpet or rugs
- Spilled water, liquid, oil, or mud on flooring and tile
- Uneven flooring
- Abrupt transitions between flooring surfaces, such as from carpet to hardwood or tile
- Broken stairs
- Broken or missing handrails
- Loose wires or cords strung across walkways
- Furniture, boxes, or other debris blocking paths
- Broken or malfunctioning elevators or escalators
- Defective recreational or amusement park equipment and rides
- Poor lighting
- Inadequate security
- Dangerous dogs or other animals
- Fire hazards
- Flooding hazards
- Toxic chemicals or fumes
The Most Common Types of Injuries on Property
It’s easy to hear the term “slip and fall” and assume that the injuries are minor. That’s far from the truth. National statistics list accidental falls as the second leading cause of death in Canada.
The top kinds of injuries in property accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones or fractures
- Spinal disc herniations and ruptures
- Spinal cord injury
- Facial injuries and eye trauma
- Tendon, ligament, and muscle strains and tears
- Cuts and lacerations
- Puncture wounds
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Drowning injuries
- Disease or illness
Who Is Responsible for Your Accident?
The British Columbia Occupiers’ Liability Act outlines who can be held responsible when a person is injured by an unsafe or dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Under the law, an occupier could be:
A person who is physically in control of the property
Someone who is responsible for maintaining the property and overseeing who enters the premises
Keep in mind that an occupier isn’t necessarily the property’s owner, but rather the person or entity who is responsible for it. It’s important to note that more than one party could be responsible for maintaining the premises.
Parties that could have legal responsibility for your accident include:
- Private homeowners
- Residential or commercial landlords
- Store owners
- Restaurant owners or operators
- Hotel operators
- Tenants of apartment or condo complexes
- Property management or maintenance companies
You should also know that your own liability may depend on the fine print in any contract or lease you sign. For example, a residential or business tenant’s responsibility for an accident caused by a dangerous or hazardous condition on the premises could hinge upon whether the owner gave the tenant or business exclusive control over where the accident occurred or responsibility for repairing or removing the conditions that caused the victim’s accident and injuries.
How to Prove an Occupiers’ Liability Claim
In order to establish an occupiers’ liability claim, you will need to prove that the owner or operator of the property:
- Had a duty to keep you safe by maintaining safe premises
- Violated that duty by failing to repair or remove a dangerous condition
- Caused you harm as a result of that violation
- Owes you compensation to make up for your injuries and other damages
Courts will examine several factors to determine whether the property or business owner bears responsibility for your injuries, including:
Whether the existence of the dangerous or hazardous condition that injured you was foreseeable to the property or business owner
- Whether the owner’s conduct met the commonly accepted standards of practice
- Whether the owner had an adequate system of inspection in place and whether such a system was followed
- Whether the owner permitted the dangerous or hazardous condition to exist for an unreasonable length of time
- The difficulty (or lack thereof) in removing, repairing, or warning visitors of the dangerous or hazardous condition
Let’s say you suffered a slip and fall accident in a puddle at the grocery store. To prove an occupiers’ liability claim, you will need to show:
- That the presence of the puddle was foreseeable to the store
- That the puddle came from a dangerous condition in the store, such as a leaking refrigerated or frozen display, or from a spill by a customer
- That the store knew about the puddle, had an inadequate inspection system, or failed to carry out regular inspections
- That the store had ample time to clean up the puddle or place warning signs
- That because the store breached its duty to keep you safe, you are owed money for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses stemming from the incident
Within this example, there are several places where the store could counter your claim. If the puddle was caused by a rainstorm, the store could argue that it’s not liable because the weather was not foreseeable and outside of its control.
Alternatively, the store could say that it knew about the puddle and that an employee was in the process of getting a warning sign or mop when you slipped and fell. It could argue that it should not bear liability because it did not have sufficient time to remedy the dangerous or hazardous condition.
The tiny details matter when it comes to property accident claims. An occupiers’ liability lawyer can investigate your claim thoroughly to prevent key facts from slipping through the cracks and sinking your case.
Contact an Experienced Occupiers’ Liability Lawyer in Vancouver, B.C.
At Warnett Hallen LLP, we know how quickly an accident can change a person’s life. If you’ve been hurt on another’s property, British Columbia law allows you to hold its owner(s) accountable for their failure to keep their premises well maintained.
For years, our Vancouver occupiers’ liability lawyers have been successfully representing clients in injury claims throughout the province. Our mission is to help you secure the best possible results as quickly as possible. Usually, this will come in the form of a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer. But if an insurance company refuses to pay the full and fair amount you are owed, Warnett Hallen LLP is staffed by a team of tough trial lawyers who won’t hesitate to take your case to court if that’s what it takes to get you the money you deserve.
Questions? There’s no risk in contacting us for answers. All initial consultations are free, and there’s no obligation. We’re here to help Vancouver citizens get the justice they deserve.
Call or contact us now to schedule your no-cost consultation.