Injured Montrealers seek compensation from city for icy sidewalks this winter

Nadya Mirarchi is one of 108 Montrealers who have complained to Montreal after slipping on icy city property so far in 2018. She's had two operations and has been bedridden since January after badly breaking her ankle in a fall.

City has received 108 complaints about falls on ice so this year

Nadya Mirarchi's ankle was broken in three places after she slipped and fell on the sidewalk outside her Rivière-des-Prairies home in January. (Submitted by Nadya Mirarchi)

Nadya Mirarchi has been bedridden since January.

The Rivières-des-Praires woman ventured out after an ice storm, slipping and falling on the sidewalk just outside her home and twisting her ankle badly.

"I didn't realize how bad the break was," Mirarchi told CBC Montreal Daybreak's Sabrina Marandola Monday. Her ankle was broken in three places.

She's had two operations on it since then and now has plates and screws holding her ankle together. Her mother had to move back to Montreal from Florida to help Mirarchi take care of her children. 

Mirarchi has since filed a complaint with the city and is waiting to find out if she will receive compensation for being unable to work or care for her children.

More than 100 complaints

She's one of 108 Montrealers who have filed such complaints after slipping on icy city property so far this year. That compares to 92 last year and 190 in 2014.

Jamie Benizri, Mirarchi's lawyer, said he alone received more than 100 calls from people wanting to know what recourse they had after a particularly bad stretch of icy weather in January.

"I'm seeing … a record number of calls, consultations and inquiries about what happens when [you] slip," Benizri said.

The City of Montreal faced criticism for its handling of snow and ice removal in January, putting in place new measures after being inundated by complaints. (Charles Contant/CBC)

If Mirarchi's request for compensation is rejected, she can file a case against the city in small claims court, which covers claims of under $15,000. 

However, he said, in one precedent-setting case, a Montreal woman who took her case to court got $130,000. 

"That's likely a record," Benizri said.

Mirarchi's case is one of the most extreme he's seen, he said.

"She was walking diligently," said Benizri. "She denounced it to the city through Facebook and other mediums that there was an issue on this particular street."

Mirarchi had no obligation to de-ice the sidewalk in front of her house, Benizri said.

"There's a clear divide between the sidewalk and private property."

'We pay our taxes for a reason'

Mirarchi said she wants to see accountability from the city.

"We pay our taxes for a reason," she said. "It could have been a child or an elderly person."

Montreal was hit by freezing rain the week of Jan. 22, however, the City of Montreal decided to wait for warm temperatures that had been forecast for the weekend in the hope that the ice would melt.

However, the thaw didn't materialize, and by Friday night, another snowstorm hit, forcing the city to deploy snow-clearing teams on Saturday.

The city apologized for not having cleared the snow and ice sooner and was criticized by the opposition for penny-pinching.

With files from CBC Daybreak