A settlement was reached during the second day of a personal injury jury trial case in Columbia, SC where a law clerk exiting the courthouse slipped on a set of slick steps. The settlement of $750,000 was agreed upon between plaintiff Patrick Mohan and Crockett Facilities Services, a Maryland-based service provider. Crockett had a maintenance contract with the court for waxing and polishing the steps were Mohan fell and had created an unreasonably dangerous condition. Mohan suffered an injury resulting in a herniated disk in his back and incurred $40,000 in medically-related expenses and has chronic pain. Crockett has admitted fault in the matter; however, a jury was to decide on the amount of damages.
Mohan's attorney Robert Goings stated that his client continues to feel pain in the back regions. The plaintiff submitted photos showing the well-polished steps that were taken following the accident. Crockett had removed the old “slip-prevention strips” to clean the surface of the steps but ran out of the strips while replacing them and had to wait for them to arrive the following day when the accident occurred. Crockett's contract called for them to maintain the premises which included waxing the steps two times per year.
One issue that arose in favor of the defense was social media posts of Mohan riding an exercise bike after the incident. Mohan claimed that it was a stationary bike that was used after receiving instructions from his doctor that he make efforts to get low-impact, cardiovascular exercise. The plaintiffs indicated that they would have asked that the jury award damages in excess of $1 million. Both parties were happy to conclude the matter and felt the settlement was fair.
The National Floor Safety Institute released the following data regarding slip-and-fall accidents:
- Slip-and-fall incidents are a primary reason for employees to have days missed from work
- Slip-and-fall accidents are a significant cause of Workers Compensation Claims and occupational accidents among those over the age of 55
- Floors and flooring-related products are believed to cause approximately 2 million injuries in falls annually
- Most at-home falls occur at ground level—not from elevations
- One in three Americans over 65 years old will experience a fall during a year
- Hip fractures are increasingly a cause of severe injury—and even death
OSHA outlined some basic methods of slip-and-fall prevention as follows:
- Maintain clear walking areas free from obstructions
- Always wear footwear that is appropriate for the surface conditions
- Learn how to properly “break” a fall
- Maintain proper lighting throughout walking paths
- Stairs should have handrails for support
- Make sure that proper drainage systems are in place for liquids to flow out
- Install slip-resistant floors or products that are placed on the floors for prevention
- Post signage in workplaces to remind people to pay attention to the conditions of the floor surface