Occupier’s Liability & Slip and Fall Accidents

An occupier of a property or premises in British Columbia owes a duty to take care that in all circumstances people will be reasonably safe in using that property or premises.  If an occupier fails to live up to their duty of care they can be liable for injury pursuant to the Occupier’s Liability Act [RSBC] 1996 Chapter 337.

Injuries that Occur on a Premises

There are many ways to be injured on a premises, which just means a property.  The most classic form of occupier’s liability is what is known as a slip and fall where an individual slips and falls on a premises injuring themselves due to the unsafe nature of the premises or the negligence of the occupier of the premises or their employees, such as failing to salt an icy/snowy surface or allowing a wet/slippery spill to remain on the floor.  That being said, there are a number of other ways injuries could occur which would engage the Occupier’s Liability Act, including:

  • Injury caused by dangerous stairways or walkways
  • Injury caused by poor lighting
  • Injury caused by falling objects
  • Injury caused by negligence of employees or contractors
  • Injury caused by inappropriate or unsafe flooring
  • Injury caused by exposure to hazardous materials
  • Injury caused by animal attack
  • Injury caused by exposed wiring or unsafe equipment
  • Injury caused by elevator or escalator malfunction

Who is an Occupier?

Under the Act an occupier is not only the owner of a property, an occupier can be anyone who can exert control over the property in question and who has control over what occurs on that property and who can enter that property are considered occupiers under the Act.  Along with property owners, other entities that can be considered occupiers under the act include:

An occupier has a duty of care for anyone who enters a premises over which they are an occupier.  If an occupier breaches that duty of care and someone is injured because of that breach then the injured party is entitled to sue for damages under the act.

An occupier is also vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees.

In the case of independent contractors an occupier may not be liable for the independent contractor’s negligence if they took reasonable steps in choosing and supervising that independent contractor according to the provisions of the Act.  However, in cases such as this you could still have a claim against the negligence of the independent contractor themselves for any injuries and associated losses.

What To Do If You’re Injured On An Occupied Premises?

If you’re injured on a property and you think it was due to the negligence of the occupier or their employees or agents you could have a claim.  The important thing to do is document what happened so there can be no argument about it after the fact.

One of the best things you can do is take photos or videos of the accident scene.  With today’s digital age photos and videos have metadata attached to them which will show exactly when and where they were taken and no one will be able to argue about the truth of the meta data.

Another thing to do is get contact information for any witness to the accident.  Independent witnesses are extremely useful as often they have no relation to the injured party or the occupier of the premises and are viewed by the Court as helpful witnesses as they don’t stand to benefit from either party succeeding.

Letting a representative of the occupier know what occurred and having an incident report written up is also a smart thing to do as it creates a paper trail that the Court can follow should you have to litigate your claim.

If you believe you’ve been injured due to the negligence of an occupier of a premises or their employees/agents, contact the lawyers at Taylor & Blair LLP today as there are time limits which apply to your claim.