Since the powerful ice storm hit Toronto, we at the law firm are inundated with phone calls inquiring about suing the city for one reason or another. Most of these calls are not related to the ice storm at all. It seems that many of us stuck in the dark and cold for hours, or even days, could think of no better way to pass the time than by conjuring great law suits against the city.

That is what happens when there is no TV to keep our imagination occupied.

But in actuality, suits against a municipality for injuries sustained due to faulty sidewalks, deep potholes, offending tree limbs, etc. are a complex process best left for lawyers who don’t have imaginations anyway. For starters, there is a much higher standard for negligence when it comes to municipalities.  While any good old simple negligence is cause to sue a private entity, when you see the city, you need to prove GROSS negligence. Gross negligence is determined on a case-case basis, and it will be up to a judge to decide if it was indeed met.  Each municipality is different and has a different standard set for snow removal, sidewalk-crack patrol, mayor-crack sustainability, etc.

Additionally, and very importantly, there is a 10 day notice requirement for suits against municipalities. Once that is met, the standard two year limitation applies from the date of loss. Lack of notice will not necessarily quash your case, but it does not bode well in any case. If you are unsure whether the property that caused the harm belongs to the municipality or not, we recommend putting the city of notice in any case- just to be safe.

For more information on claims against the municipality you can visit that municipality’s website (for example, here is Toronto’s), or if there is no website try calling your municipality’s city hall. And if you are giving the city the silent treatment, or you just need more information or help, contact Bergel, Magence, LLP at 416-665-2000.

We would never leave you in the dark.