Every winter, snow and ice accumulate on sidewalks and private properties, presenting liability situations for municipalities and property owners and dangers for individuals. Municipalities have a responsibility to keep their sidewalks reasonably safe for pedestrians and to clear ice and snow. Similarly, property owners are responsible for keeping their property clear of ice and snow. If they neglect their responsibility, people can slip on the ice or snow and fall, becoming injured.
There is an unusual scenario of hazardous winter conditions in which adjacent property owners can both be liable for creating and permitting an icy hazard to exist. The reported court case of Brazzoni v. Timmins (City),  O.J. No. 254 (CA.), the court decided that a property owner could face liability if they fail to prevent hazardous ice from accumulating on an adjacent property that results in someone becoming injured from slipping and falling. In particular, any water that emanates from their dwelling that flows onto an adjacent property and that freezes, culminating in someone becoming injured from slipping on it and falling, is the property owner’s responsibility—even though the person became injured on someone else’s property.
Furthermore, the other property owner (or the municipality, in case the adjacent property is public land) cannot evade their responsibility to keep their own property free of ice and snow as well. In Brazzoni v. Timmins, the business owner neglected to prevent the melting-snow runoff on its premises from flowing onto an adjacent municipal sidewalk and freezing, neglect that resulted in pedestrians’ injuries. The Court of Appeal ruled that the property owner and municipality were equally liable. However, in Bongiardina v Vaughan (City), 2000 CanLII 5408 (ON CA), the Court of Appeal found that the “flow exception” in Brazzoni was actually an exception to the rule that property owners are responsible for their properties. For these reasons, consulting a seasoned personal injury lawyer is a good way to navigate the legal process to determine who is at fault in the case of hazardous winter conditions (accumulation of snow/ice on private property / municipal property).
If you have suffered or if one of your loved ones has suffered a serious injury due to a slip or all on unremoved ice or snow, contact the personal injury lawyers at McNally Gervan today. Your consultation is free.