It is very easy to slip and fall on certain surfaces, especially in an area which is highly travelled by other pedestrians who may litter and spill substances. The City is largely responsible for the maintenance and cleanliness of our pavements both above and below ground but should they be held responsible in all cases where someone suffers one of these types of accidents?
In the case of Nandlal v. Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the defendants (the TTC) sought a summary judgment against the plaintiff on her claim of liability against them.
The plaintiff Mrs. Nandlal claims that around mid November of 2008, she slipped then fell down several stairs on her way to the Kennedy Subway Station. Her recollection is that the surface leading to the stairs was slippery and littered. She suffered significant and severe injuries from this fall.
The Toronto Transit Commission takes issue with her accusation of negligence on their part, in terms of the upkeep of the surface in question. They believe that she provided no evidence to prove her claim and what details she provided, are sketchy at best.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA) states that the owner or person responsible for the property bears the responsibility of ensuring that individuals who use their premises are reasonably safe. It is a guideline based on practicality and the duty of care does not encompass the elimination of every single hazard. If someone is injured on the property, the burden of proof is on the injured individual to prove that the specific lapse in care caused the injury. Whether or not there was a hazard, deciding liability is rarely ever simple.
On the day in question, the person responsible for the maintenance of the area where Mrs. Nandlal fell scanned the area for any issues that needed immediate care and then went about his structured sanitary upkeep and maintenance of the area. He has a supervisor who oversees his work, and was present on that day as well.
Initially Mrs. Nandlal stated that she had slipped on the tiles on the floor, but then changed her statement to slipping on the top of the stairs where to her recollection, there might have been debris. There were no witnesses to corroborate or refute her claim and the stairs that she slipped on were in good condition and of the slip resistant type.
A summary judgment can be awarded where it is proven that there is no material fact to be tried. In this case, Mrs. Nandlal failed to provide any evidence that there was debris on the step, and seems uncertain as to the place she slipped. In addition, even if she could prove that there was a hazard on the day in question, she had not proven that the current procedures in place for maintenance and safety were inefficient according to the Occupier’s Liability Act.
The Judge found in favor of the Toronto Transit Commission and the plaintiff’s suit was dismissed.
Being hurt in public places like subway stations and other heavily travelled areas does not mean that someone will automatically be held responsible for the incident. It is a very trying and intricate matter to prove, and you should consult a personal injury lawyer at the reputable law firm of Rastin & Associates as soon as you are able. Allow us to use our experience and knowledge to help you achieve a successful outcome in your claim.