There are many things to love about winter in Ontario, but heading outside to shovel or salt your driveway isn’t much fun when the temperature is -20. But the truth of the matter is, if you fail to shovel and salt your driveway or walkway you are putting yourself at risk.
If someone suffers a serious injury due to a slip and fall on your snowy or icy walkway you put yourself at risk of being sued. Homeowners have a legal duty to keep people visiting their property safe. This duty is set out in a statute called the “Occupiers’ Liability Act”.
Both homeowners and tenants may be “occupiers” of property and this law states that the occupier of a property is liable if they fail to take reasonable care to keep visitors safe. Reasonable care is recognized as being a reasonably prudent homeowner or tenant. If you leave your driveway and walkways icy, without taking any steps to make them less hazardous, you will not meet the standard of reasonable care.
In addition to taking the necessary steps towards being a prudent homeowner, another way to protect yourself from the economic consequences of a lawsuit is to have adequate insurance. Your tenant or homeowners’ insurance policy will respond to claims arising from slips and falls on your property. However, if your insurance limits are inadequate to cover a claim, your personal assets will be at risk.
It’s a good idea to speak with your broker to ensure your insurance policy meets the requirements of additional liability insurance. Increasing your insurance limits to protect yourself can be surprisingly affordable and well worth the investigation.
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