Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller introduced his Private Members Bill: The Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, which if passed, would reduce the statute of limitations for slip and fall lawsuits on private property from two years to 10 days, with the exception of extreme cases.
Ten days is the time currently allowed for lawsuits to be issued on municipally managed property, so by establishing the same time-frame for private and public property, Miller believes the bill will ensure fairness and equality for all occupiers of land. Businesses can face lawsuits up to two years after a slip and fall incident caused by snow and ice, even if they were never informed that someone slipped and fell on their property, according to a statement from Miller’s office. It can cost a lot for the businesses to defend themselves after this much time, according to the statement, because it is difficult to find witnesses that remember what happened on a date two years earlier.
“This proposed legislation comes primarily as the result of conversations I have had with business owners and other residents who have approached me with concerns about frivolous lawsuits and excessive insurance premiums” Miller said. “This includes small businesses like the snow removal company Wes Finch & Sons in Bracebridge, who talked about just how expensive and hard it is to get insurance.”
Reducing the statute of limitations on slip and fall lawsuits to ten days would make it easier for businesses in Ontario to defend themselves in cases of slip and fall incidents. It will also reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits, according to Miller, decreasing insurance costs and court backlog.
“This bill has really touched on something that deals with things that I’ve run into as a lawyer,” said Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Ore-Medonte. “I endorse this 100 per cent. I think it’s a prudent thing to do. It actually is a benefit to people who are plaintiffs and it’s a benefit to people who will be defendants—and let the courts sort it out.”