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Winter Accidents: What You Need to Know About the 10-day Notice Period


While the holidays are generally a time of celebration, the excessive cold, snow, and ice can make even walking on the sidewalk or driving to work more dangerous. These dangerous conditions also increase the number of accidents on municipal property.

For example, if you are injured as a result of a crack in or an icy patch on the municipal sidewalk, or as a result of the height differential between sidewalk pavers, you could potentially have a suit against the municipality.

If you are involved in an incident like this, it is important to give notice to the at-fault municipality within the timelines set out by the Municipal Act[1]as soon as possible. In fact, section 44(10) of the Municipal Act mandates that when an incident occurs on municipal property, the municipality must receive notification within 10 business days. Failure to provide proper notice within the 10-day time limit can act as a bar to any potential claim against the municipality.

Once notice is given, there is no requirement to commence a lawsuit. However, it does allow individuals to take further time to decide if they wish to do so. All civil actions against the municipality also remain subject to the Limitations Act.[2] This Act states that all lawsuits must be commenced within two years of discovering the cause of action.[3]

The only exception to this 10-day notice period is if the individual has a “reasonable excuse” for the delay and the municipality is not prejudiced by the failure to give notice.[4]

What may constitute a “reasonable excuse” has been addressed by the Court of Appeal. In the case of Crinson v. City of Toronto, the Court of Appeal found that an individual being so incapacitated as to be unable to provide notice constitutes a reasonable excuse.[5]  This may include an individual who suffers a severe injury requiring hospitalization, surgery, and/or the use of medication.

In the event that the 10-day deadline has expired, notice should still be provided to the municipality as soon as possible.

If you are injured, you should immediately seek legal counsel to ensure that notice is sent to the proper municipality and within the proper timelines. If you are unsure of whether you have a case against a municipality, contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.

[1] Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25.

[2] Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, C. 24, Sch B.

[3] Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, C. 24, Sch B.

[4] Section 44(12) of the Municipal Act

[5] Crinson v. City of Toronto, 2010 ONCA 44 (OCA); Giuliani v. The Regional Municipality of Halton, 2010 ONSC 4630 (CanLII).

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