Everything You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Cases
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), slips, trips, and falls are the leading causes of injuries in retail stores and workplaces nationwide. More than one million people are admitted to emergency rooms each year due to these types of accidents.
Despite how common slip, trip, and fall injuries are, only a small percentage of people report their accidents because many believe that it was their fault that the accident occurred. The reality is that these accidents are largely preventable, and employers and property owners have an obligation to maintain safety standards that protect employees, customers, and guests.
If you’ve been involved in a trip, slip, or fall accident, call the attorneys at Berry Law to see whether you’re entitled to compensation for injuries you sustained due to negligence. Damages in a personal injury case can help cover medical bills and other expenses incurred as a result of a slip, trip, or fall.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Injuries
The National Safety Council found that slips, trips, and falls make up 15 percent of all workplace accidents annually. While the workplace is a common environment for fall accidents, they can also occur in parking lots, on sidewalks, in schools, on playgrounds, at nursing homes, inside vacation property rentals, and at other locations.
With an estimated 2,000 slips, trips and falls reported daily in the United States, resulting injuries can range from minor to severe. Strains, sprains, bruises, bumps, scratches, and cuts are some of the most common outcomes of slip and fall accidents. Fractures are also frequently seen, with about a quarter of those being severe enough for surgical intervention. Hips, arms, and spinal bones are most often impacted.
Spinal injuries, along with traumatic brain injuries, and even death are among the most severe outcomes of slips, trips, and falls. They cause nearly 700 fatalities each year and are the third leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. These accidents result in physical debilitation, emotional strain for victims and their families, and financial hardship.
Slips, trips and falls are most common in individuals who are over the age of 55.
Physics of Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
These types of accidents come down to simple physics. Friction, momentum, and gravity work together to cause injuries to unsuspecting victims.
Slips are caused when there isn’t enough friction between a person’s feet and the surface on which they are walking. Without traction, loss of balance leads to a fall. Wet surfaces from spills, as well as snow and ice are common culprits in slip accidents. Running on wet concrete at the swimming pool or wearing shoes without traction in the snow can increase the likelihood of slip accidents.
Momentum is the main cause of trips, especially in cases where someone is in a hurry. If the feet hit an object like a bunched-up throw rug with enough force, the body is thrown off balance, resulting in a fall. Other common tripping hazards include unsecured cords or cables.
Falls are the most common cause of workplace fatalities, particularly falls from high surfaces like ladders and step stools. These types of injuries occur when the body’s center of gravity is compromised, such as reaching too far from the stability of a ladder, or if the ladder itself is unsteady to begin with. Gravity pulls the weight of the body toward the ground, resulting in serious injuries.
These are some of the most common causes of slip, trip and fall injuries:
- Slick or Uneven Walking Surfaces- Liquid spills, dust, and sawdust, loose mats, rugs, and flooring, parking lot potholes, crumbling sidewalks and walkways, and recently mopped or waxed floors lead to slips and trips. These types of accidents make up more than half of all occurrences.
- Clutter- Objects that impede walkways, storerooms, and other areas that require access can be tripping hazards. Empty boxes and trash that hasn’t been properly disposed of, as well as open bottom drawers and cabinet doors are common culprits. Poorly arranged furniture that is low to the ground can also lead to trips and falls.
- Loose Cords- Unsecured electrical cords and industrial cables and wires can catch feet as they move by, resulting in a tripping accident. Cords, cables and wires should be taped down or otherwise secured to prevent injuries.
- Weather-related Hazards- Ice, snow, and rain are particularly treacherous on walkways and steps. Adding sand or salt before a storm can help prevent slips, as well as clearing snow and ice as soon as possible after the storm has passed. Improper maintenance can leave a property owner responsible in the event of an accident.
- Lack of Training- Employers are responsible for proving training, tools, and resources to keep employees safe from injury. The CDC, along with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) offer resources to help train employees to keep themselves and customers safe in workplace settings.
- Obstructed Views- Not being able to properly see potential hazards can result in trip, slip, and fall accidents. Poor lighting or carrying large loads that obstruct vision are common causes of tripping injuries. Providing walkway lighting, replacing burnt out bulbs, and teaching employees good safety habits can prevent accidents.
- Unsafe Ladder Use- Ladders that are not opened completely before use are hazards. Safety locks should be employed and ladders should only be used on flat, non-slip surfaces free from sand, sawdust, and other slick materials. It’s also important to follow the manufacturer’s weight limit when using ladders and step stools.
To reduce trip, slip, and fall accidents, employers, employees, and property owners must be committed to prevention. Anyone who notices a spill or other hazard should report it immediately so that it can be cleared up or removed. Be cautious regarding choice of cleaning solutions, as some products can actually make the problem worse by leaving the floor slick.
In restaurants or shops, avoid letting grease accumulate on walking surfaces by cleaning kitchen and garage floors frequently. Keep walkways, stairways, and lobbies free from tripping hazards like bicycles, toys, empty boxes, and other debris.
Check to make sure that floor mats and rugs are flat against the floor without bunching or wrinkles. Arrange furniture and equipment so that it leaves ample room for walkways, and secure lamp cords or other hazards.
Install handrails on all staircases and ramps, and repair loose handrails or floorboards. Remove snow and ice from sidewalks, steps, and parking lots as soon as possible before allowing people to walk on them.
For more information on how to prevent occupational slip, trip, and fall accidents, visit the Department of Labor website. Additionally, The National Institute on Aging offers resources for how to guard against these accidents at home.
If you have experienced an accident caused by slipping, tripping, or falling, the property owner may be held liable for damages. Reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Berry Law who can help to assess the value of your claim and suggest appropriate compensation based on the liability of the other party.
Homeowners, business owners, landlords, and employees are responsible for proper maintenance of their property. Failure to maintain safety standards that result in injuries to a customer, guest, or employee is negligence, and owners can be held financially responsible. In legal terms, this is called premises liability, and property owners should carry liability insurance for this reason.
The negligence of a property owner or employee can lead to thousands of dollars in medical bills, debilitating pain, permanent disability, days missed from work, and financial hardship. Slip, trip, and fall accidents cost Americans more than $34 billion each year and can lead some households into bankruptcy.
Emergency room visits, x-rays, hospital stays, physical therapy, medication, and rehab, along with lost income add up. Fall, slip, and trip victims miss an average of 11 days of work per month to recover from the injuries they sustain due to someone else’s negligence.
Examples of negligence on the part of a property owner or employer include:
- Missing or broken handrails on stairways and ramps
- Failing to post warning signs near slippery surfaces
- The absence of runner carpets on hard surfaces floors when it rains or snows
- Inappropriate choice of flooring material or poor maintenance
- Ignoring leaky appliances or fixtures
- Failure to clean up spills or warn guests about them before intervening
- The use of cleaning products that leave the floor slippery
- Not keeping parking lots, walkways, and steps clear of snow and ice
- Failure to repair uneven walking surfaces
- Lack of sufficient lighting
- Not providing employees proper training, resources, and tools to stay safe from slip, trip, and fall accidents
Unfortunately, only about 2 percent of slip, trip, and fall cases go to jury trial because many victims feel that their own clumsiness or lack of attention led to their injuries. The reality is that more often than not, there was something that could have been done to prevent these types of accidents, and someone else’s negligence contributed to the victim’s pain and suffering, as well as financial loss.
Contact a Lawyer Today
Before writing off your slip, trip or fall accident as chance, consult with a personal injury attorney to determine if your accident was due to irresponsibility or negligence on the part of another. Homeowners insurance and business liability insurance may cover the expenses from medical bills and lost wages. Only an experienced attorney can guide you through the process and help you recover what’s been lost while you focus on your recovery.