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Surrey Slip And Fall Personal Injury Lawyers

Our senior Surrey slip and fall personal injury lawyers handle minor to very serious slip and fall cases in Surrey, Vancouver, Kelowna and Fort St John. If you have been hurt in a Surrey slip and fall or have suffered a similar slip and and fall injury in Vancouver, West Kelowna, or Fort St John call us in Surrey at 604-576-5400 click here or call us toll free across BC at 1-877-602-9900.

What Should I Do First If I’m Injured In A Slip And Fall?

If you suffer a slip and fall injury take the following immediate steps at the site of your personal injury:

  • Get immediate medical attention
  • Get the names of witnesses to your slip and fall
  • Take pictures on your phone camera of the site and conditions of the hazard that caused your slip and fall
  • Call us at 604-576-5400 in Surrey or contact us at any of our 4 offices in Surrey, Vancouver, West Kelowna and Fort St John to meet with us immediately

Why Should I Hire An Experienced Lawyer For My Slip And Fall Case?

BC Slip and fall cases can cause serious injury, pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of money and earnings. You need experienced and aggressive legal assistance to ensure you receive the highest possible award for your injuries. MacLean Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled in this special area of personal injury and will guide you through to a successful resolution of your slip and fall claim.

Lorne MacLean, QC Surrey Slip and Fall Lawyer

Lorne MacLean, QC Surrey Slip and Fall Lawyer

What Are Common Slip and Fall Hazards?

Common slip and fall hazards can include, uneven surfaces, buckled carpets, slippery surfaces from liquids or objects, dangerous ice and snow conditions on property, rotten railings and poorly constructed premises and other hidden dangers.

How Does The Law Work In Slip And Fall Cases?

Owners of property are expected to take reasonable efforts to minimize hazards to those who use their premises such as people like you. Our Court of Appeal decided Foley v Imperial Oil in 2011 which handily summarized the law on slip and fall cases. In this case the injured party slipped on ice and successfully persuaded a trial judge that the defendant’s system for removing dangers was inadequate and that the property owner failed to meet the test for keeping their premises reasonably safe for users. The end result was that the property owner had to pay the injured party a money award. The Defendant was unhappy with the trial decision and appealed to our highest BC court to overturn and cancel the money payment. Here is what the Court of Appeal decided:

26] The law on occupiers’ liability has gradually merged from the “rigid rules and formal categories” of the common law that “spawned confusion and injustice”, into the general principles that govern the law of negligence. See Allen M. Linden and Bruce Feldthusen, Canadian Tort Law, 9th ed. (Markham, ON: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2011) at p. 705.

[27] The duty of an occupier is now governed by s. 3 of the Act, which provides: Occupiers’ duty of care 3(1) An occupier of premises owes a duty to take that care that in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that a person, and the person’s property, on the premises, and property on the premises of a person, whether or not that person personally enters on the property, will be reasonably safe in using the premises. (2) The duty of care referred to in subsection (1) applies in relation to the (a) condition of the premises (b) activities on the premises, or (c) conduct of third parties on the premises.

[28] The standard imposed by the Act is one of reasonableness: the reasonableness of the system implemented to safeguard the particular risk on the premises, and the reasonableness of the implementation of that system. The standard of reasonableness is not one of perfection. As was noted by the trial judge at para. 55, citing Lamont v. Westfair Properties (Pacific) Ltd., 2000 BCSC 406 at para. 20, “An occupier is not expected to be an insurer against all risks[.]”

[29] The Act provides a complete code regarding the duty of an occupier of land. Reference to earlier common law cases is no longer required and may, in fact, result in legal error if the wrong standard of care (one based on the common law categories) is applied, rather than the statutory standard of care. The comprehensive nature of the standard of care of an occupier under the Act was confirmed in Weiss v. Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Vancouver (1979), 11 B.C.L.R. 112 (C.A.), where Mr. Justice Aikins, for the Court, noted at 118: … In my view, s. 3(1) is comprehensive, in the sense that it fully and clearly imposes a duty on an occupier and defines the standard of care necessary to fulfil that duty. Thus, in my judgment, it is unnecessary to an understanding of the standard prescribed by the subsection to refer to any of the specially formulated standards of care laid down in the common law cases. Indeed, to do so is more likely to mislead than assist in understanding what the subsection says.

[30] As with any tort claim, the party advancing the claim carries the burden of proof on a balance of probabilities. The burden of proof in establishing liability under the Act was described in Kayser v. Park Royal Shopping Centre Limited (1995), 16 B.C.L.R. (3d) 330 (C.A.) as follows:

[13] The onus of proof on a plaintiff to prove the liability of a defendant on a balance of probabilities in a standard negligence action also applies in cases arising under the Occupiers Liability Act. As Wood J.A. held in Bauman v. Stein (1991), 78 D.L.R. (4th) 118 (B.C.C.A.) at 127: Section 3 of the Occupiers Liability Act does not create a presumption of negligence against “the occupier of the premises” whenever a person is injured on the premises. A plaintiff who invokes that section must still be able to point to some act (or some failure to act) on the part of the occupier which caused the injury complained of before liability can be established.

[31] The appellants contend the trial judge erred in law by adopting the common law “unusual danger” test to assess the reasonableness of the appellants’ maintenance program, and, in so doing, erred in law by placing the burden of proof upon the appellants to establish that they had adequately implemented their maintenance program on the day of the incident.

46] I would also observe that while the burden of proof is with the plaintiff to establish liability by demonstrating a breach of the standard of care under s. 3 of the Act, the following comments of Madam Justice Southin in Kayser, albeit in the concurring minority, offer some light on why an occupier might lead evidence of a reasonable scheme of maintenance to address a known danger on its premises:

[23] The care which an occupier must take, therefore, will differ according to the nature and use of the premises. Hence, the line of cases in which, although the activities carried on the premises may be hazardous, the occupier has been able to refute a prima facie case of breach by showing it had put into operation a reasonable scheme of maintenance and that scheme has been carried out….

[25] However one characterizes a plaintiff’s argument in a slip and fall case arising from, let us say, a squashed banana on the floor, the presence of the banana comes very close to “res ipsa loquitur”. It then falls upon the occupier to show that it did what was reasonable to protect those who come on its premises from the common hazards of grocery stores.

[26] It is always a very nice question how much evidence the occupier must adduce to overcome what is, in fact, an evidentiary presumption of breach of duty, in part because the evidence, not only of the scheme, but also of its proper operation, is peculiarly within the knowledge of the occupier.

[47] In “slip and fall” cases involving the reasonableness of a maintenance program, while the burden of proof rests with a plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant breached the relevant standard of care, there remains an evidentiary burden on the defendant to rebut any reasonable inferences that might be drawn from the evidence as to whether the defendant has taken reasonable care, in the circumstances, to safeguard the plaintiff who enters onto its property.

In short, you as the injured party must show the property owner had a danger on their premises and failed to take reasonable steps to remove or reduce the risk to you of this danger. This area of law is tricky and our slip and fall personal injury lawyers are ready to help so don’t delay. Call us now at 604-576-5400 or toll free across BC at 1-877-602-9900.

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