The Slippery Slope of Winter in NL
Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its unpredictable and treacherous winters. As harsher conditions increase and roads and walkways become more difficult to navigate due to snow and ice, slip and fall incidents may increase.
Homeowners and businesses must take reasonable action to ensure that their property is safe. However, property owners and occupiers may not be held liable for all slip and falls that occur on their property. In particular, slip and falls outside in winter can be tricky, as the standard of care may differ from slip and falls which occur indoors.
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has consistently held in recent cases that property owners are not held to a standard of perfection when it comes to snow and ice clearing. Typically, where there are reasonable measures in place for snow and ice clearing and a Plaintiff nevertheless falls and injures themselves, the Defendant may not be held liable for their injuries.
For example, in Ledez v Health Corp of St. John’s, 2008 NLTD 60, the Honourable Justice LeBlanc ruled that while the Defendant hospital had a non-specific record of snow and ice clearing, it did not mean that the hospital was automatically negligent. The hospital did have an appropriate plan in place for snow and ice removal and therefore the Court ruled the “changing climatic conditions accounted for the slippery conditions” which as a result made snow and ice removal more challenging.
Similarly, in Smith v 60144 Newfoundland and Labrador Inc, 2017 NLTD(G) 143, no liability was found in the case of a Plaintiff who slipped and fell in the parking lot of a car dealership. The Honourable Justice Paquette dismissed the claim on the basis that the Plaintiff failed to establish that he fell on ice or snow and that the Defendant had failed to take reasonable care.
Ultimately, if you are injured in a slip and fall (whether outdoors or indoors), the best practice is to consult with a lawyer, who can advise you on the law as it applies to your individual situation.
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