Accidents caused by wet floors that result in slips and falls are a leading reason for injuries in the United States. Retail stores and workplaces pose particular risks for wet floor accidents, with the Centers for Disease Control citing slips and falls to be a leading cause of injuries in those locations nationwide. Spills and leaks are common culprits, making wet floor accidents largely preventable.
Unfortunately slip and fall accidents are vastly underreported because many victims believe that they are at fault for their injuries as a result of their own carelessness. The reality is that business and property owners have an obligation to maintain their properties and prevent wet floor accidents from occurring. Premises liability is the failure to maintain these safety standards, resulting in injuries to a customer, guest, or employee. Property owners should carry liability insurance for this reason.
If you’ve been injured in a wet floor slip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact the personal injury attorneys at Berry Law. They have the background and experience to fight alongside you for the compensation you deserve. While you focus on your recovery, they can take care of the details.
Prevalence & Demographics of Wet Floor Accidents
One in three adults over age 65 will experience a fall each year in the United States. The vast majority of skeletal fractures in that demographic nationwide are due to slip and fall accidents. They are also the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Americans over 85. Nearly 700 fatalities a year can be traced back to slip and fall accidents.
Occupationally, slip and fall accidents that involve wet floors are the primary cause of worker’s compensation claims, leading to missed work days and lost wages. Workplace injuries are a common source for such accidents since Americans spend a significant amount of time at work. However, wet floor accidents can occur anywhere, but are most prevalent in these locations:
- Grocery and retail stores
- Office and bank building lobbies
- School and daycares
- Garages and auto repair shops
- Hospitals and medical offices
- Nursing homes and retirement communities
Private homeowners also have a responsibility to any guests that have been invited to their property to prevent wet or slick floor accidents. Homeowners insurance will typically cover injuries that guests sustain at a private residence. However, some insurance companies may challenge the validity or amount of a claim and make it difficult to receive full compensation.
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Slips and falls on wet surfaces are caused by a lack of traction between a person’s feet and the surface on which he or she is walking. Hurrying on wet or slick surfaces or wearing shoes with poor traction can put a person at increased risk for a slip and fall accident.
Common causes for wet or slick floor accidents include:
- Spills from liquids, including water
- Oil, grease and fluids that are tracked in or leaking from machinery, fixtures or ceilings
- Leaky appliances
- Ice, rain and snow
- Recently mopped floors
- Cleaning products that leave behind a slick film or residue
- Sand and mud
- Blood, sweat, urine, and other body fluids
- Dust or sawdust
Practicing good prevention measures by checking machinery and ceilings for leaks frequently, as well as monitoring for unexpected spills and wiping them up as soon as they are discovered, can help business and property owners protect customers and guests and avoid liability.
Slip and fall accidents lead to more than 1 million emergency room visits annually in the United States. Resulting in overwhelming medical bills, debilitating injuries, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering, wet floor accidents cost Americans an estimated $34 billion per year and can even lead to household bankruptcy filings.
Commonly accrued expenses for wet floor accidents can include emergency room visits, x-rays, hospital admissions, rehabilitation, and pharmaceuticals. Lost wages, absences from work while recovering, and even the loss of the ability to do a job can put considerable financial strain on victims and their families. Injuries may be minor, but depending on their severity, can also be life-changing, resulting in permanent disability or death.
The most prevalent injuries sustained during a slip and fall accident are those to the spinal cord, back, neck, and brain. Wet floor accidents are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injuries nationally. The most serious type of injury to the brain, known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), can lead to life-long disability, along with spinal cord accidents that can result in paralysis and even death.
Other common injuries include those to the knees and ankles, wrists and elbows, and shoulders. Broken bones, muscle strains and sprains, and damage to nerves and internal organs also occur with slip and fall accidents, as well as bruises and lacerations.
Wet floor accident prevention is everyone’s responsibility. Any person who notices a spill or other wet floor hazard should report it immediately so that it can be corrected in a timely manner. Any time a floor is wiped up or mopped following a spill or leak, the responsible property owner or manager should post caution signs to warn patrons and customers that the floor could remain slick while it’s drying. Failure to post signs can result in otherwise preventable slips and fall accidents.
Failure to Warn accidents occur when a person is injured on a wet floor without a warning sign present. In these cases, the property owner is often found to be negligent for any damages caused by a slip or fall that occurs because they failed to provide notice that would have otherwise kept the public safe.
Sidewalks, parking lots, porches, steps, driveways and entryways should be kept clear and free from ice and snow, as well as other hazards and debris that could be tracked inside. Placing runner rugs on hard floor surfaces at entranceways during inclement weather can help to collect and absorb moisture that would otherwise accumulate and cause them to become slick.
When choosing floor surface cleaning products, be sure that they don’t leave behind a slick or waxy residue, and don’t allow grease to accumulate on walking surfaces in commercial kitchens or automotive shops.
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Steps to Take if You’re Injured in a Wet Floor Accident
- Document the scene of the accident- Following a slip and fall accident that occurs as a result of a wet floor, take photos of the scene of the accident if physically able to do so. Include shots from several different angles since liquids can be difficult to effectively capture in photographs. Business or property owners may try to clean a spill up right away, making it difficult to prove negligence. Photographic evidence can help later in the event of a personal injury lawsuit.
- Seek medical attention- An individual may feel alright immediately following a slip and fall accident, but injuries can present themselves much later in some cases. It’s a good idea to see the doctor immediately to rule out serious injuries to the nervous system, broken bones, or organ damage.
- Document all medical treatment- Keep track of any injuries sustained as a result of the accident, as well as medical treatment received. Detailed records can illustrate the absence of any pre-existing conditions and prove that injuries sustained were actually caused by the slip and fall accident.
- Save soiled clothes & shoes- If clothes or shoes come in contact with a wet or slippery substance that contributed to a fall accident, preserve them as evidence.
- Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can offer advice on the next steps. An attorney with a history of litigating personal injury and wrongful death suits will understand how a case might move forward and be able to gather the evidence that will be necessary to prove damages and seek compensation.
Working with a Lawyer to Obtain Compensation
If you or a family member has been injured in a wet floor accident, you have the right be compensated for injuries you sustained and any financial costs you’ve accrued due to the accident. A business owner or insurance company may try to deny that they have any liability for a wet floor accident, or even try to blame the victim for carelessness.
In cases where the liquid came from a spill or other unexpected event, the property owner may claim that he or she didn’t know that the floor was wet. However, property owners are ultimately responsible for monitoring the floor for spills, and not knowing about a spill doesn’t absolve them from responsibility.
Personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits can’t restore an individual’s personal health, but they can help victims and their families recover financial damages that are caused by the negligence of others. Negligence claims require the injured party to prove the following:
- A property owner had a duty of care toward the injured person.
- The property owner breached their duty of care.
- That breach of care caused the victim’s injuries.
- Those injuries resulted in damages.
The attorneys at Berry Law will listen to your story, review the evidence, and advise you on whether you have a case.