With cabin season underway, it is always early enough for property owners to take additional safety measures before opening the cabin or hosting their next event. When it comes to liability in the event of an accident, more than having a valid property insurance policy is often required. Cabin weekends are meant to be a time for relaxation and rejuvenation, so taking proactive steps to ensure your safety, family, and guests can make all the difference.  By implementing these simple precautions, you can create a safe and secure environment, allowing you to focus on enjoying all the beauty and fun your cabin has to offer.

Proactive Property Precautions

Cabin owners must take advantage of getting property insurance for a seasonal property. A comprehensive home insurance policy will protect you in the event of theft, floods, or fires, and it can also cover liability if someone is injured while on your property. If you are using the summer to complete renovations on the property or choose to rent out your property, notify your insurer of these changes and determine whether additional coverage is required.    

Cabin owners can take it one step further by writing down the telephone numbers for local emergency services departments and hospitals in case of an emergency.

Occupiers’ Liability Claims

Alberta’s Occupiers’ Liability Act imposes a duty on the occupier of a property (the cabin owner) to reasonably ensure guests’ safety while on the premises. Therefore, there are several proactive steps you can take to make your cabin safe and comfortable for all parties, such as:

  • installing outdoor lights along walkways, particularly those on uneven terrain;
  • maintaining clear pathways, stairs and porches;
  • keeping a fully stocked first-aid kit in an accessible location on the property and informing guests as to its location;
  • installing and/or testing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; and
  • setting a good example regarding responsible consumption of recreational substances, particularly near fire pits, barbeques, and waterfront areas.

If you are injured on someone else’s cabin property, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether you may have a claim for compensation under the Occupier’s Liability Act, as not every injury gives rise to a personal injury claim.

Substance Use and Social Host Liability

Cottage owners should be mindful of guests’ consumption of alcohol and cannabis while on their property. Property owners must concerted effort to prevent reasonable harm to their guests when serving alcohol. Depending on the circumstances, if a guest suffers an injury, the social host may be liable under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

Alcohol and cannabis considerations can be particularly prevalent around a campfire. Cottage owners should ensure that their fire pits are not constructed near low-hanging trees or other debris and that any open flame area is surrounded by rocks or other nonflammable material to mitigate fire hazards.

Inspections and Maintenance

Before inviting guests over for the season, conducting an initial inspection and engaging in ongoing regular maintenance on your cabin and the surrounding property is important. It is also crucial to pay additional attention to recreational vehicles, boats, fireplaces, and barbecues to ensure they are in good working order. This may alert you to potential dangers and help you address concerns before others arrive. 

Because seasonal properties are often not equipped with the same clear, well-lit pathways as most habitual residences, alerting your guests of rocky and uneven terrain and highlighting poorly lit areas is important. Owners should also be mindful of marking off other potential hazards, such as loose deck boards, railings, or other debris, to mitigate the likelihood of a trip and fall incident. Property owners should ensure that all lightbulbs are in good working order and, in the event of a power failure, should bring along a flashlight or two with extra batteries. 

Safety on the Water

Whether you’re travelling by boat to a remote area or enjoying a peaceful sunrise from your canoe or paddleboard, talking with your friends and family about water safety is important. Hosts should understand their guests’ swimming abilities and ensure that enough life jackets are available for everyone. Taking proactive measures around water activities can go a long way in accident prevention. 

Being familiar with the water around their property, cabin owners should also inform guests of any unique characteristics, such as whether it is safe to dive in, how deep the water is, and whether there are any known hazards below the water’s surface. If you are unsure of the water conditions near your property or are aware of hidden hazards, you may want to consider posting “No Diving” signs on your property and dock.

Boat owners must ensure they possess the proper licenses and registrations. They must also not operate the boat while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Boat owners and operators should have the appropriate level of experience necessary to operate the watercraft safely to protect themselves, their guests, and others.  

Mindful Participation in Other Activities

Cottages allow property owners and guests to participate in unique activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking. While experienced cabin owners may be comfortable with these activities and the associated equipment, it is important to take proper precautions if your guests are unfamiliar with a particular activity or equipment. 

Contact Cuming & Gillespie LLP in Calgary for Skilled Representation in Personal Injury Matters

Summer accidents can happen fast. If you have been injured in an accident on someone else’s property or due to another person’s negligence, you may have a claim for compensation. Whether you sustained an injury in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall, or a boating accident, the trusted personal injury lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP can help. Our injury lawyers will manage your claim and protect your interests, allowing you to prioritize your health and recovery. To speak with a member of our personal injury team, contact us online or by phone at 403-571-0555