Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common injury claims in the country. Tripping or slipping can happen any time anywhere. Many of these injuries are caused by something minor like a cracked sidewalk or torn carpeting. It may seem like these accidents are nobody’s fault, they are often caused by the negligence of a property owner to keep their property safe.
What seems like a minor trip up could cause serious injury. Unexpected falls often leave the injury victim hitting the ground on their hip, back, or head. It does not take far to fall to cause a serious injury. This can lead to broken bones, head injuries, or nerve damage. Recovering from these types of injuries can require extensive medical treatment and the victim may still be left with chronic pain.
When someone is injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, the property owner or manager may be liable for failing to keep the property safe. The injury victim may be able to file a claim against the property owner under premises liability laws. This can help to recover damages, including:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
Do not blame yourself for an injury caused by unsafe practices. If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, contact our experienced personal injury law firm for a free consultation. Contact our office today online or by phone at 800-529-6162.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Just about anything can present a trip hazard. However, a lot of slip and fall accidents are caused by common dangers that many of us are familiar with. Unfortunately, business owners, homeowners, and property managers often ignore these dangers and never do anything to fix them, until they become subject to a lawsuit. Common causes of slip and fall injuries include:
- Icy sidewalks
- Leaks in bathrooms
- Torn carpeting
- Broken stairs
- Cluttered walkways
- Broken concrete
- Spilled liquids
- Food spills
- Loose handrails
- Lack of proper lighting
- Uneven sidewalks
Who is responsible for these accidents. In many cases, it is the property owner who is liable. Even if the property owner did not intentionally cause the injury, they may be liable because they failed to take reasonable precautions to make the premises safe for visitors, residents, and customers.
Restaurant and Grocery Store Falls
It may not be surprising that restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores are common sites of falling accidents. In restaurants, servers are bringing food to the tables, with the possibility of spills along the way. Water, drinks, and food on the floor can make for a suddenly slippery surface. In bathrooms, a leaky faucet could create a hazard for an unsuspecting customer.
Similar situations happen in a grocery store. Food falling off produce displays could be slippery when it is stepped on by a customer. A broken bottle of oil or sauce is not only slippery, it is also covered in broken glass. In the winter, the entry to the store may be wet with snow that is tracked in. If the store does not take action when they learn about these slip and fall hazards, they may be putting customers at risk.
Employees working at a restaurant or grocery store can also fall victim to dangerous workplace injuries. In most cases, employees who are injured on the job have to take their claim through the workers’ compensation process. See below for more information about workplace injuries.
Icy Sidewalks and Parking Lots
People who live on the East Coast or Midwest are used to dealing with tough winter weather. Temperature can fluctuate to melt snow during the day only to refreeze during the night. This can leave sidewalks, walkways, parking lots, and driveways covered in a thin layer of invisible ice. Black ice can be very dangerous, even when a pedestrian knows they are walking on ice.
Even if the ice was caused by the weather, it is the responsibility of the property owner to keep the walkways and shared spaces clear of ice and snow. States and cities often have requirements to clear snow from sidewalks within a certain amount of time after the snowfall. This is all to make sure that icy walkways are safe for pedestrians, customers, visitors, and emergency workers.
Apartment Building Shared Walkways
In apartment buildings, commercial properties, and office buildings, what goes on inside each room may be up to the tenants. However, the shared walkways are generally the responsibility of the property owner or management company. The owner has to take steps to make sure walkways are clear, hallways and stairways have proper lighting, and emergency doors are not blocked. When hazardous shared spaces cause a slip and fall injury, the property owner may be liable.
Dangers on City Property
Cities, counties, and states are some of the largest property owners. It may be up to these government agencies to make sure buildings and walkways are kept safe for visitors, employees, and those doing business on city land. If a visitor trips on some old, torn carpet, the city may be liable for damages.
However, there may be different restrictions when trying to file a claim against a government agency. In most states, there are special notice requirements when filing a claim for damages. This usually means you have less time to file a claim against the government than you would against a private business. If your injury occurred on city property, make sure you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to make sure you can file your claim in time.
Hazards at Home
A lot of trips, slips, and falls happen at home. As the homeowner or occupant, you are generally responsible for keeping your property safe. Most of the time, this is not a problem because if you have a broken rail on the front steps, you know to avoid it. However, if you invite a friend over and do not tell them about the broken rail, it may cause them to suffer an injury. Even private home owners can be liable for dangers on their property that injure someone who is invited to their home.
Jumping Dog Knock Down
Lots of dog owners do not have good control over their pets. An off-leash dog may terrorize the neighborhood with the owner telling everyone not to worry, “he’s friendly.” Even the friendliest dog can injure someone. Jumping dogs that knock someone over is a common cause of injury caused by dogs, after dog bites.
Children and the elderly can be especially vulnerable to over-excited and jumping dogs. A large dog that puts its paws on a person can knock them over, causing a serious injury. In these cases, the dog owner is generally responsible for any damage caused by their pet. If the pet owner does not want to take responsibility for the injuries caused by their animal, contact an attorney for legal advice.
Buses and Public Transportation
On some busses, light rail, subways, or trains, passengers are left to stand when there is no room to sit. When the transport takes off suddenly or stops suddenly, it can cause a passenger to be thrown off their feet, causing an injury. If the operator or driver was acting irresponsibly, the city or transport company may be liable for damages. This goes for other common carriers as well, including airlines, shuttle bus operators, or party busses.
With people spending almost a quarter of their daily lives at work, it is not surprising that so many slip and fall accidents happen while on the job. This could happen on a dangerous construction job, industrial floor, or even a typical office building. Wherever the injury occurs, if it happens during work, it may have to be handled differently than a personal injury claim.
Workers’ Comp for Slip and Fall Injuries
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance program that provides medical and wage benefits to an employee who is injured on the job. Workers’ comp can be a benefit to workers because they don’t need to prove the employer was negligent in causing the injury, only that it happened while working. As a trade-off employees can’t sue their employers for most slip and fall-type injuries.
Unfortunately, employers can still be difficult and try and deny a worker’s claim or say they are not really injured. These battles have to be fought out in the workers’ comp law system, often going through mediation and appeals before the injured employee can finally get limited benefits. If you slipped and fell at work and were seriously injured, make sure your employer doesn’t take advantage of you.
Premises Liability Laws
Many slip and fall injury lawsuits come under premises liability laws. These are laws that govern who is responsible when someone is injured on another person’s property. These laws developed over time, creating classifications for people of different status. For example, in Maryland, liability depends on whether the person was considered:
Invitee: An invitee is someone invited to the property for the property owner’s benefit. A good example is a customer at a property owner’s store. The property owner must keep the property maintained and free of hazards for their invitees. Owners also have to take steps to regularly make sure the premises remain safe. If there is any danger present, the owner generally has to notify invitees so they can avoid the danger. For example, a sign in front of a spill that warns of a slippery floor surface may be an appropriate warning.
Licensee: A licensee is generally someone that is invited onto the property for purposes other than business. An example would be a friend or guest coming over for a barbecue. The property owner still has to keep the property maintained and free of potentially dangerous conditions. If there are hazards, the owner should make them clear to licensees.
Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who enters the property without permission. Trespassers have the lowest level of duty owed to them. Generally, the property owner does not have to warn any trespassers of hazards. However, the property owner cannot create hazards that would intentionally cause harm, like set up booby traps.
Slip and Fall Accident Injuries
There are a number of factors that can impact the type of injuries a slip and fall victim could suffer. This includes the age and health of the victim, type of fall surface, height of the fall, and where the victim lands. Common slip and fall injuries can include:
- Broken bones
- Broken hips
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Nerve damage
- Back injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Hand and wrist injury
A serious accident generally requires emergency medical care, including ambulance transport, ER treatment, and hospitalization. A minor slip and fall injury may only require outpatient care. However, whatever kind of medical care an injury victim receives, they are likely to get hit with a very expensive medical bill. Even if they have insurance, it may not cover all the damages. This is why it is important to find the person liable for the injury to cover the costs.
Recovering Damages for Injury Victims
The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to recover damages for the injury victim. Damages include the financial and other costs of the accident. If the person liable for the damage does not want to pay for their mistakes, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help recover compensation.
Damages in a slip and fall injury claim are generally categorized as economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages cover the financial losses associated with the injury, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical care
- Loss of income
- Loss of economic opportunity
Non-economic damages may be more difficult to quantify but it is easy to understand their purpose. If the injury victim is no longer able to walk or suffers chronic pain, they should be compensated for those unnecessary losses caused by the reckless property owner. A jury can come to an amount that is fair to compensate the victim for the damage caused by the slip and fall damage.
Slip and Fall Accident Legal Advice
If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, experienced personal injury lawyers understand how to help you get the compensation you deserve. Your fall injury attorney can help you through the difficult process and provide legal advice to make sure you get all that you deserve. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online or at 800-529-6162 for a free consultation.