Developing a Policy:

A defined policy is necessary to utilize the “policy defense” in the event of a slip and fall on a municipally-owned sidewalk. A reasonable effort to prevent slips, trips and falls is required in order to prevent liability. Elements that should be included in a sidewalk inspection and maintenance policy include:
● The responsible department
● An outline of the type of deficiencies that will be addressed
● Frequency and method of inspections
● The system of classification for prioritizing repairs or replacements

It is common to assign priority of repairs based on:

● Age of sidewalk
● Users (seniors, disabled persons, schoolchildren, inline skaters etc. should be a higher priority)
● Accumulations of water/ice
● Amount of traffic
● Degree of elevation change/separation/damage
● Areas where complaints have been received.
● A process to receive, record and respond to complaints
● A system of record-keeping for inspections, corrective actions taken or reasons for not taking action
● An incident recording, reporting and record retention process for incidents that occur on sidewalks
● Guidelines for enforcing your bylaw (if one exists) requiring adjacent property owners to remove ice and snow from sidewalks
● Specific provisions regarding other pedestrian hazards such as snow removal, tree roots, obstacles and awnings.


Sidewalk Inspection and Maintenance should be documented adequately and regularly to limit legal liability. Always maintain accurate documentation of:
● inspection and maintenance forms
● prioritized repairs
● procedures for repair methods
● repairs schedule
● citizen complaints and municipal response to the complaint
● reports of incidents of injuries or damage alleged due to poor maintenance

Incident Reports
Additional information that may be included for slip, trip and fall injuries include:
● Type of footwear worn
Weather conditions at the time of the accident and prior
● Time of day and level of lighting at the time of the injury
● Recent loss control initiatives taken (such as repairs or signage)
● Photographs of the site from several angles with the date and name of the person taking the photographs (if appropriate)
● The direction of movement and intent of the injured person

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