Winter Accidents: Can You Hold the City Responsible?

In the News

Accidents can happen during snow removal operations. You could also slip while walking on an icy sidewalk. If your city’s actions (or inactions) caused you damages, you could claim compensation. However, the procedures and the timelines differ according to the type of damages involved.

Damages during snow removal operations

Your city might have to compensate you if it caused you damages while removing snow. For example, your fence was damaged by a snowplow.

To ask for compensation, you must send a written notice to your municipality. The time limit is usually 15 days from the date of the incident or 15 days from first noticing the damages. However, in some municipalities, the deadline is 60 days. If you send the notice too late, you could lose your right to compensation.

To learn more, see our articles Municipal Works: Who’s Responsible for Damages? and Claiming Compensation for Damages Caused by Municipal Public Works.

Was your car hit?

A snowplow could accidentally hit your parked car during snow removal operations. In this situation, you should contact your car insurance company — as for any other car accident — instead of the municipality.

More time to claim compensation for physical injuries  

You slipped on an icy sidewalk and were injured? You may be entitled to compensation from your municipality. But you must show that they committed a fault or were negligent in some way. With our winters, no one can guarantee that sidewalks will be clear of snow and ice at all times!

If you believe your municipality was at fault or acted negligently, you can send them a demand letter. You have three years to file a court action against the municipality.

See our article Civil Liability: Receiving Compensation for Damages for more information on claiming compensation and evaluating damages.

More than one type of damage? Be careful!

What if you suffer a physical injury and some other type of damage at the same time? For example, you slipped on an icy sidewalk, suffered an injury, and also broke your glasses. 

In this situation, you must send the municipality a notice within 15 days to claim compensation for your glasses. As mentioned above, in some municipalities the deadline is 60 days. If you send the notice too late, you could lose your right to compensation.

For damages, other than a physical injury, you have six months to file a court action.