In winter, sidewalks are sometimes icy. A fall is never far away… but if you fall and get hurt, who is responsible? Are you entitled to compensation?
The city and your injuries
You will not be automatically compensated if you are injured when falling on an icy sidewalk. You must prove that the city was negligent or that its snow removal and sanding plan is inadequate.
The city is responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks, but it is not automatically liable for falls. Permanently snow- and ice-free sidewalks cannot be guaranteed given our difficult winter weather conditions.
If you do not reach an agreement with the city, you have 3 years to sue and prove negligence in court.
Short deadlines for your valuables
The same principle applies if you break your glasses or another valuable object when you fall.
However, in this case, you must send a written notice to the city as soon as possible to avoid losing your right to be compensated. Depending on where the accident happened, you have 15 or 60 days to do so. Check with the city to find out which timeline applies.
If you do not reach an agreement with the city, you have 6 months to sue.
Falling on private property
You are also not entitled to automatic compensation if you are injured while visiting private property. You must prove that the owners were negligent or did not make normal efforts to remove snow and salt their property.
If you do not reach an agreement, you have 3 years to sue for compensation for your injuries and valuables broken in the fall.
See our article Civil Liability: Receiving Compensation for Damages to find out how to calculate damages and learn more about your right to be compensated.
But sometimes, preventing is better than curing: you can choose to insure yourself for the costs and loss of income you would have to bear in case of a fall. See our article Accident, Illness and Disability Insurance.