All about Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in the United States. These accidents are those that occur on the property of another (such as offices, business establishments, and the like), with its owner failing to keep the premises of such property in safe and secure conditions. This is what plaintiffs in personal injury cases try to prove. These property owners, in the operation of their businesses, are under an obligation to keep their employees, customers, and guests safe while within their properties. Personal injury cases and lawsuits arise when there is a failure to fulfill that obligation and injuries happen as a result.
Although appearing to be just simple mishaps, slip and falls can actually cause severe injuries—broken bones, back, head, and brain injuries just to name a few. Regrettably, these accidents happen quite often. In fact, statistics show that the US has approximately 8 million emergency room visits each year due to falls, and around 12% of this number can be attributed to slip and fall accidents. That’s almost a million cases in a year.
These visits and hospitalization, in general, are costly, and unfortunately, this is not the only loss that a person would incur if he or she gets into a slip and fall accident. This being so, injured parties can bring claims for damages against the property owner in slip and fall cases.
If you are presently in a related situation and want to make a claim or if you just want to learn more about this particular type of personal injury, the following provides more information about slip and fall accidents.
Common Causes of Slip and Falls
Slip and fall accidents are a distinct type of personal injury, and it can be divided further according to how they commonly occur. In the US, the following are the most common causes of slip and falls:
- Slippery floors: There are certain types of floorings, particularly those that are overly smooth and polished, that have a higher risk of causing slip and fall accidents. However, even in the absence of these glossy floorings, mishaps due to slippery flooring may nonetheless still occur, such as when a certain wet area is yet to be mopped but no adequate warning is placed.
- Uneven surfaces and other landscape hazards: Cracks, gaps, holes, and other similar conditions surely create slipping and tripping hazards to persons within the premises of the property concerned. While these circumstances do happen, it is the responsibility of the property owner to do the necessary repairs in a timely fashion, or at the very least, post warning signs while awaiting restoration.
- Poorly lit areas: Hallways, stairways, and generally any area without adequate lighting make it difficult for anyone to walk safely, recognize gaps and changes in the floor’s surface, and navigate through and out. Property owners are responsible for the installation and maintenance of proper lighting, especially in the public areas of their property.
Liability in Slip and Falls
When a slip and fall accident takes place, claiming against the property owner is never automatic. As an injured party, you will no doubt want to be compensated for all the losses and damages you have incurred and suffered, but there are certain things you will have to prove first before any payment:
- Existence of duty: It is important to prove that there exists a duty on the part of the person you are seeking payment from to exercise due diligence and prevent the injury from happening. If this duty does not exist, then the injury from the slip and fall cannot be blamed on that person.
- Breach of such duty:Once this duty is established, the breach of such duty must be determined next. In legal terms, the breach is defined as “a violation in the performance of or a failure to perform any obligation”. In slip and fall cases, this breach is often referred to as the failure of the property owner to maintain the premises of his property in good, safe, and secure conditions.
- Injury caused by such breach: Of course, there is also the need to prove that the injury suffered is caused by the person you are claiming against, particularly his failure to perform his duty to prevent the injury from happening.
A concrete example is this: While in the office and during work hours, an employee slipped and fell on wet flooring glue in one of the office corridors, severely hurting his back and hips. The establishment’s owners, apparently, installed new floorings in the area but failed to put warning signs and send advanced notice.
Here, the owners could be held liable because they had the duty to prevent the injury from happening, but this duty was not performed because of their failure to put adequate warning signs in a clearly hazardous situation. The employee could not have known about the floor installation and the wet flooring glue because of the absence of any notice. He was also in a familiar place—an area he has always known to be safe and risk-free.
With all three requisites present, the employee’s unfortunate situation can make a personal injury case, with the slip and fall accident attributable to the owners of the establishment.
Defenses in Slip and Fall Cases
The property owner might argue that in the first place, there was no duty on its part to prevent the injury from happening—that it was someone else who was under that duty, for example. Another defense is to deny the breach, or that the owner had, in fact, performed your obligation, but the slip and fall occurred nonetheless. An owner may also assert that the proximate cause of the injury was something else—it could be the injured party’s own negligence or failure to exercise due care, or that it was an entirely unforeseen occurrence that no one could have prevented.
The discussion above is only a primer; a professional is indeed necessary to make sure that everything will work out as well as possible and you can make a full and fair recovery.
If you are in Kansas City or the surrounding areas, Pospisil Swift is the legal expert that you need for your slip and fall concerns. Our lawyers are experienced and qualified in slip and fall accidents and other personal injury cases, and we can assure you that your case will be handled competently and well.
To discuss, contact us by calling our office or clicking the link below.