We previously blogged about insurance companies not wanting to provide coverage to snow and ice removal service providers. We noted that Bill 118 was trying to address some of the underlying concerns. Bill 118 received royal assent on December 8, 2020, but the changes are not exactly what those in the snow removal industry were hoping for. That said, Bill 118 does materially change how lawsuits arising out of snow and ice injuries can be brought. Once the changes come into effect, no one will be able to bring a claim for damages arising from snow and ice injuries unless they comply with the following:
- The plaintiff must provide written notice of the claim within 60 days of the injury.
- The notice must contain the date, time, and location of the personal injury event.
- The notice must be served or sent by registered mail to the occupier or the contractor employed by the occupier (note that condominium corporations are deemed to be the occupier of the common elements at law).
While many in the snow removal industry were hoping for a 10 day limitation period, the reduction from 2 years to 2 months is significant.
Condominium corporations and management should pay close attention to these changes. Firstly, with insurance premiums skyrocketing (for both condos and snow removal providers), limiting claims is critical. If the written notice is not provided or provided beyond the 60 day period, a condo corporation may be able to have the claim dismissed regardless of underlying liability for the injury. Bill 118 does make exceptions for the 60 day period if the injury resulted in death or if the court is satisfied that there is a reasonable excuse for the delayed notice and the defendant (condo corporation, snow removal company etc.) is not prejudiced in its ability to defend the claim.
Secondly, once a condo corporation is served with the written notice of the claim, the condo corporation has to personally serve its contractor and any other occupier (shared facilities, other condo corporations etc.) without delay.
Given these changes, it is critical that in addition to ensuring that snow removal service providers are properly insured, condo corporations must document any injuries and make certain that all staff (management, security and concierge, superintendent, admin. staff etc.) are aware of the notice and timing requirements. We recommend that all condo corporations prepare a written policy explaining the timing, notice requirements and procedures.