Can Windsor Property Owners Avoid Liability for a Slip and Fall With a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign?

yellow wet floor sign next to doorPeople often slip and fall on wet or slippery surfaces, which is why property owners put out “wet floor” signs. The hope is that people will see these bright yellow signs and avoid walking in the area.

Despite the presence of these signs, slip and fall accidents can still happen. For example, people might not see the sign, or they may ignore it.

When these accidents happen, property owners may claim they bear no responsibility because the sign warned people about the danger. This argument might not always hold up.

Our experienced Windsor slip and fall lawyers discuss “wet floor” signs and liability for injuries below.

Contact us after a slip and fall accident. Free consultation. (866) 320-4770.

Requirements Imposed on Property Owners by Ontario Law

Slip and fall accidents in Ontario are governed by the Ontario Occupier’s Liability Act. The owner of a property can be thought of as an occupier, as he or she has physical possession of the premises or has responsibility and control over the condition of the premises, its activities and the people allowed on the property.

Occupiers have a legal responsibility to make sure people who come on the property are reasonably safe. Occupiers must protect people from dangers caused by a condition on the premises or by activities on the premises.

Are Property Owners Required To Put Up ‘Wet Floor’ Signs?

One way to help ensure people are reasonably safe is to warn them about potentially dangerous conditions, like wet or slippery areas of the floor. For example, property owners can put “wet floor” signs in these areas.

While the law does not specifically require the placement of these signs, doing so may shield property owners from liability for a slip and fall accident.

When Is It Reasonable To Use a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign?

There are various situations when it is reasonable to expect property owners to use “wet floor” signs or take other steps to prevent people from walking in a wet or slippery area. For example, failing to put out a sign after a staff member mops the floor may create an unreasonably dangerous situation. The same rationale could be applied to a situation where someone spilled something on the floor.

The floor inside or outside of someone’s property could also get wet because of rain or snow. A “wet floor” sign would also provide fair warning to people who are entering or already on the property.

However, after placing a “wet floor” sign near a wet or slippery area, property owners should take appropriate steps to remove the hazard. If the floor was recently mopped, it will eventually dry up, and the sign can be picked up. If something was spilled, it should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Proper Placement of a ‘Wet Floor’ Sign

If someone slipped and fell and there was a sign warning this person of the danger, it might not be possible to file a slip and fall claim in Ontario.

That said, property owners may still be liable if the sign was not properly placed. For example, there is a case from 2016 in which a hotel was held liable for a slip and fall, even though hotel staff had put out a “wet floor” sign.

Brown v. Marriot was filed by a man (Mr. Brown) who slipped and fell in the lobby of a Marriot hotel. When he walked into the lobby, he did not see any hazards on the floor. However, after turning his back to check in with the receptionist, a janitor came into the lobby and began mopping the floor. The janitor put out a bright yellow “wet floor” sign before starting to mop.

When Mr. Brown finished checking in, the receptionist instructed him to head to the elevator. Unfortunately, when Mr. Brown began walking toward the elevators, he slipped and fell, causing a back injury. When Mr. Brown testified, he said he did not see the sign and did not see or hear the floor being mopped.

Despite the presence of the “wet floor” sign, staff at the hotel did not tell Mr. Brown of the danger, which they are told to do in their online training. It was also revealed that the janitor was required to run a dry mop over the area to soak up excess water, which this person did not do.

This is just one example of a situation where a “wet floor” sign might not shield the property owner from liability for a slip and fall injury. Property owners might also be held liable if:

  • It was hard to see the sign – For example, the area may have been poorly lit, making it hard to see the sign and understand the danger.
  • The sign did not cover a large enough area – Sometimes the sign does not take up enough space to provide adequate warning about the wet floor. The sign might be sufficient for part of the spill, but the spill might extend far beyond the sign. In these situations, property owners may need to put out two signs, or rope off the area.
  • There was another hazard people were not warned about – A wet or slippery floor may be just one part of the danger. There might be other obstacles people were not warned about.
  • There was no way to avoid the wet area of the floor – Sometimes it is not possible to walk around a wet area of the floor because there is no other way to go. It may be negligent on the part of the property owner to fail to provide an alternate route.

Call To Discuss a Windsor Slip and Fall Claim

It can be challenging to prove liability for a slip and fall accident, especially without help from an experienced lawyer.

The lawyers at Greg Monforton and Partners have secured compensation for injured victims in Windsor and throughout Ontario for decades. This includes people injured in slip and fall accidents.

We take injury cases on contingency, which means there are no upfront costs.

Give us a call to learn more: (866) 320-4770.