What is Occupiers’ Liability?
This area of law involves those who have suffered injuries due to unsafe property conditions. In British Columbia the Occupiers Liability Act (“OLA”) details the legal obligations that occupiers owe to persons visiting their premises.
Who is an Occupier under the OLA?
Section 1 of the OLA defines an “occupier” as any person (an individual or a corporation) who (a) is in physical possession of the premises, or (b) has responsibility for, and control over, the condition of premises, the activities conducted on those premises and the persons allowed to enter those premise
The Duty of Care Owed to Visitors
Under section 3 of the OLA an Occupier has a duty to ensure visitors are reasonably safe while on the premises.
Requirements of a Supermarket under the OLA
The standard of care imposed on an occupier of premises, used as a supermarket, requires the occupier to have in place a reasonable system of monitoring and cleaning of the floor to avoid potential hazards for customers. In addition to having a reasonable system of cleaning in place, there must be evidence that the system was properly followed on the day of the incident.
If a court answers “Yes” to both of these requirements it will be found that the Occupier acted reasonably. But if a court finds the Occupier failed to have and to follow a system of inspection and maintenance the Occupier would be in breach of the standard of care owed under the OLA, and therefore liable to the injured party.
For example, you enter into a Supermarket and slip on blueberries before a store employee had an opportunity to clear them. You suffer a soft tissue injury or a broken bone due to the slip and fall. Is the store liable under the OLA? It depends.
The Supermarket would have to show that the system they had in place was reasonable and it was being followed at the time you were injured.
The law does not require perfection. It only requires that an Occupier exercise care that is reasonable in all of the circumstances.
In British Columbia almost all cases before the court turn on whether or not the Supermarket’s inspection and cleaning program was followed on the day of the incident.
If you have been injured while on another’s property contact us for a free consultation.
Note: This article does not contain legal advice. If you would like advice on your specific situation or occupiers’ liability, please contact us Jiwa Law Corporation.