Any time you enter someone else’s property or premises, whether a personal residence or a business such as a store, you become dependent on the owner to ensure the property is safe and free of hazards. Slips and falls describe when a person is injured from falling on someone else’s property due to a hazardous condition. Under some circumstances, the property owner may be held legally accountable for injuries sustained to patrons and guests.
For the property owner to be held liable, the owner or the owner’s employee must have either caused the hazardous condition, be it a spill, slippery or dangerous surface or item underfoot, known of the dangerous issue but failed to correct it, or known of the hazardous condition because a “reasonable” person would have discovered the problem and fixed it.
Slips - occur when there is too little friction or traction between a person’s shoes and the walking surface. Common causes are wet or oily floors, occasional spills, weather hazards, loose and unanchored rugs or mats and flooring materials that do not have the same degree of traction in all areas.
Trips – occur when a person’s foot comes in contact with an object, resulting in a loss of balance which causes a fall. Common causes are obstructed views, poor lighting, clutter, wrinkled carpeting, uncovered cables, open drawers and uneven walking surfaces.
Prevention – Slips/trips and falls can be prevented by good housekeeping, quality walking surfaces, the selection of proper footwear and by watching for hazards, if possible.
There are some simple “housekeeping” steps property owners can and should take to prevent a condition from causing someone to slip or trip and fall, including:
Cleaning all spills immediately
Marking spills and west areas with signs
Mopping/sweeping debris from the floor
Removing obstacles from walkways
Securing mats, rugs and carpets to do not lay flat or that migrate
Covering cables that cross walkways
Keeping work areas and walkways well lit
Replacing used light bulbs and faulty switches
Falls account for over 8 million emergency room visits annually
Falls are a primary cause for time missed from work
Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are a leading cause of occupational injury for employees aged 55 and older
Floor and flooring materials are directly related to over 2 million fall injuries a year
Half of all accidental deaths at home are caused by a fall
Most injuries in the home occur at ground level
Hip fractures represent the most severe injury from a fall, resulting in the highest amount health problems and numbers of deaths
In the U.S., people over the age of 65 will experience at least one fall per year and half of these are experienced by repeat fallers
Incidence of falls goes up with each decade of life
60% of all fall fatalities occur in individuals over the age of 75
Falls contribute to 87% of all fractures among people over the age of 65 and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injuries
85% of workers compensation claims are attributed to slick floors
In the Event of a Fall
Report your fall to someone in charge
Call an ambulance, or have someone call one for you if necessary
Complete an incident report
Do not make any statements
Take photos of what caused your injury
Seek immediate medical attention
Obtain a copy of your incident or police report
Contact an attorney