As I was buying my Christmas gifts, I fell on a patch of ice in the parking lot of a commercial store and I fractured my hip : What can I do ?

Did you know if you were carrying too many shopping bags in your arms or if you had a couple of alcoholic beverages you could also be responsible of your fall? Therefore, you could have to assume a part or even the full amount of your damages.

Article 1457 Civil Code of Quebec regulate extra-contractual civil liability :

“Every person has a duty to abide by the rules of conduct which lie upon him, according to the circumstances, usage or law, so as not to cause injury to another.

Where he is endowed with reason and fails in this duty, he is responsible for any injury he causes to another person by such fault and is liable to reparation for the injury, whether it be bodily, moral or material in nature.

He is also liable, in certain cases, to reparation for injury caused to another by the act or fault, of another person or by the act of things in his custody.”

To intent procedures in civil liability against the business shop owner that should have correctly maintain the parking where you fell, you will need to prove his fault before the court, your prejudice and the causal connection between the two. We will detail these three criteria in the following.

First, the shop owner’s fault. In fact, it is interesting to know that, in order to establish his fault, it is not mandatory that an action has been committed. An omission or a negligence can establish a fault. Actually, there will be a fault when the person did not act as we could have expected from a reasonably caring and diligent person. Example, if we could expect a reasonably caring and diligent business shop owner to put salt or gravel on the parking surface of his store after a snow storm and he did not, this constitute a fault from him based on his negligence.

Second, the fault of the shop owner needs to have caused you a prejudice, in other words a damage. A loss of income, hospitalization and medical fees, a long term loss of your physical mobility and expertise fees are all examples of prejudices.

Third, you need a causal connection between the shop owner’s fault and the prejudice you had. This criterion is easy to understand. I could not demand to the shop owner a financial compensation for my prejudice if it has no connection to his fault. Example, if someone steal something in my car that stayed in the business store’s parking while I was at the hospital, I could not ask the shop owner a financial compensation for what have been stolen in my car. The causal connection between his fault and my prejudice is broken.

If you are facing a similar situation, you could intent legal procedures. Most of the time, you will receive compensation by the civil liability insurance of the business store owner if the Court grant your motion. It is important to inquire about the legal delays to intent such motion. Every case is different and the delays can vary depending on the situations and the facts. This is why it is recommended to consult an attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

Written by Me Marie-Josée Gingras, Attorney