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Slip and Fall on Ice > 5 Months to Notify City is Reasonable

It is generally difficult to pursue the City of Toronto and other Ontario municipalities for failure to clear their sidewalks of ice and snow.

First, you must send a notice letter properly to the City immediately after your accident, within 10 days of your slip and fall accident.  This applies even if you are in the hospital.  The exceptions are limited.

Then, you must prove negligence on the part of the City for failing to maintain their sidewalks, found in s.44(9) of the Municipal Act, 2001, which reads:

Expert in case of gross negligence, a municipality is not liable for a personal injury caused by snow or ice on a sidewalk.

In the case of Crinson v. City of Toronto (2010 Ontario Court of Appeal), the Appeal Court allowed the plaintiff’s appeal from the 2010 Trial decision and found gross negligence on the part of the City.

It found that the City had approximately 34 hours of notice of the slippery and icy conditions of the subject sidewalk prior to taking action (despite at least two internal calls for crews to start salting and clearing the sidewalk during that 34 hour timeframe).

The plaintiff slipped and fell and badly fractured his ankle when he walked on the sidewalk at about 9:30pm, in a busy area of Toronto – on Dundas West near Dufferin.  The City was by then clearing and salting the roads, about 41 hours after their first notice, and had not yet reached the subject area.

Interesting, the plaintiff missed the 10 day notice period – he gave notice almost 5 months after the accident occurred.

Regarding this very significant delay, the Court of Appeal found that:

  • The 2001 Municipal Act modified the previous limiation period and provided an exception to plaintiff’s that had a reasonable excuse and where no prejudice was shown to have been suffered by the City;
  •  Given the plaintiff’s injury, his difficulties experienced after surgery, his upbringing and unfamiliarity with his legal rights and the timing of going to see a lawyer (a few days before notice was actually given), that he had a reasonable excuse; and
  • In this case, the City of Toronto did not assert prejudice to its defence arising from this delay.