Always bring a combination square with you! The importance of proper tools while using municipal sidewalks

By Roger Foisy on November 3rd, 2022

Trips, slips, and falls are common sources of litigation for municipalities. Ensuring that sidewalks are in a state of good repair and are not impacted by poor weather conditions or damage is part of the regular maintenance that must be completed.

If you have been injured from a slip, trip, and fall due to ice or snow in Ontario, you must act quickly to provide written notice. You have only ten days to provide written notice to municipalities if the fall occurred on a municipal sidewalk or roadway, and only 60 days to provide written notice to the property owner or responsible maintenance contractor for all other properties. For more information about this, please read our blog discussing this policy.

 To help protect yourself, it is important to follow certain practices: wear boots in the winter and running shoes if you are out for a run. But what about carrying professional measuring tools?

We wish to raise awareness of a recent court decision, in the case of Cromarty vs Waterloo (City). In this case, the plaintiff fell on the municipal sidewalk that she regularly travels. Two weeks later, the plaintiff and her son-in-law returned to the location to re-examine the area.

They took photographs of the location and measured the height difference between the two sidewalk slabs where she fell. The measurements were taken with a makeshift tool, composed of a piece of cardboard and a ruler. With their tool they found that the difference between the blocks was 20-25 mm.

Two separate investigators were assigned to determine the height difference in this case, who utilized a combination square to determine the difference in sidewalk block heights. These investigators determined that the difference was closer to 17.5-18.5 mm – a difference of 1.5-6.5 mm from the plaintiff’s tool.

It was determined by the court that using a makeshift measurement is an inaccurate way to determine a state of disrepair.

Justice Broad noted that “a ruler used alone is an inferior device to a combination square for the purpose of measuring height differentials between two horizontal planes.” It was instead suggested that taking measurements with a combination square is the appropriate and reliable method to measure surface discontinuity.

With these results, we thought it would be important to recommend and suggest that you purchase a combination square to carry for personal use in case you fall and need to measure the surface discontinuity where you took a tumble, without delay.

Remember, only with the use of a combination square can we protect ourselves from inaccurate measurements.

Roger R. Foisy, Harpreet S. Sidhu, and Daniel Berman are experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers with extensive experience in motor vehicle accidents, trips, slips, and falls, and long-term disability cases. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, trip, slip, or fall, and/or your long-term disability benefits are terminated, please get in touch with us for immediate support and a free consultation.

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