On January 1, 2019, a man in his 60s walking in the southwest community of Spruce Cliff slipped and fell on ice and was discovered by the fire department around 11:30 p.m. The unnamed man was found with trauma to his head and was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Police have ruled the death as accidental, after speaking with witnesses.
EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS SEEING MANY SLIP AND FALL INJURIES THIS WINTER
Regrettably, this terrible accident emphasizes how dangerous icy conditions can be during the long Alberta winter. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Albertans are more likely to end up in the hospital after slip and falls on ice and snow than individuals in other provinces throughout Canada. Alberta’s rate of hospitalization from winter slip and falls is nearly three times the rate in Ontario.
More people fall in the City of Calgary than other jurisdictions of the same size, according to Dr. Eddy Lang, the head of Emergency Medicine in Calgary.
Dr. Lang reports that on an average winter day approximately 60 individuals visit emergency rooms in the city of Calgary. However, during severe winter weather conditions more than four times that number may be treated by hospital staff.
Dr. Lang emphasizes that older individuals need to take extra precautions during extreme winter weather conditions. He explains that the population in Calgary is aging and many are taking blood thinners. He stated that “…even a small fall from one’s height, without any stairs or being hit by a vehicle, can potentially be fatal.”
According to the city of Calgary, there has been an increase in complaints regarding icy sidewalks compared to last year.
Chris McGeachy, a spokeperson for the city of Calgary, advises that they have received just under 4,000 complaints between October 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018.
Alberta Health Services has advised that it is considering issuing public advisories when weather conditions, such as heavy snowfall, present significant risk to Albertans.
NEW BYLAW FINING HOMEOWNERS FOR FAILURE TO CLEAR
The City of Calgary has taken action in an effort to have homeowners keep their walkways outside their properties clear.
Although no tickets will be handed out this winter season, city council has approved a bylaw amendment allowing officers to fine homeowners who fail to clear their snowy sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall. Homeowners will receive a $250 fine for a first offence, a $500 fine for a second offence, and a $750 fine for a third offence. The city is currently working on a public education campaign to make residents aware of the importance of keeping their walkways clear for pedestrians.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REDUCING RISK OF INJURY IN WINTER WEATHER
We can reduce our risk of having an accident in snow and icy conditions by taking a few simple steps, including:
- Walking slowly and carefully;
- Wearing appropriate footwear for the elements (those with good traction and non-skid soles are recommended);
- Walking like a penguin in icy conditions by bending your knees so you have a low centre of gravity and taking short, shuffle-like steps;
- Using special care when getting in and out of a vehicle and using the vehicle for support, if needed;
- Avoid carrying items or walking with your hands in your pockets, this may reduce your ability to catch yourself if you lose your balance;
- Avoiding uneven surfaces and steps or curbs with ice on them;
- Wearing clothing that does not restrict your vision;
- Using extra caution when crossing roadways and always crossing at pedestrian crossings; and
- Being aware of overhead hazards (i.e. falling icicles and chunks of snow), which are extremely dangerous for pedestrians.
WHAT TO DO FOLLOWING A SLIP AND FALL
If you have suffered a slip and fall as a result of snow or icy conditions while on someone else’s property, you should seek medical attention for your injuries immediately.
If possible, it is helpful to take photographs of the location of the fall at the time of the fall. It is also a good idea to take photographs of your injuries to show the extent of your injuries.
It is important to report the accident to the proper authorities, for example whoever is responsible for the building or sidewalk where the accident occurred. Also, be sure to note your footwear, identify any witnesses and obtain their contact information, keep all receipts related to your injury (i.e. crutches, tensor bandages, taxi cabs, pain mediation), and follow all treatment as prescribed by your doctor.
If you have been injured in a fall due to snow or ice, the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help evaluate your specific case to determine whether you have a valid claim. It is important that you call us promptly so we can help you understand your rights and the potential to recover compensation for your injuries. Contact our office online or at 403-571-0555 for a free consultation to determine how we can help you following a