WHAT CONSTITUTES A “SLIP AND FALL” ACCIDENT?
The phrase “slip and fall” describes a personal injury case in which a person slips, falls, and becomes injured as the result of a hazardous condition on someone else’s property. Conditions can exist or arise either outside or inside a building or other structure, posing a risk. Inside a building, conditions such as wet floors, torn carpeting, or narrow stairs can cause a person to slip and hurt him or herself.
Outside, someone may slip due to rain, ice, or snow. People who suffer slip and fall accidents that result in injury can be potentially eligible for damages whether the property is commercial, public, or residential. All property owners have some responsibility to ensure that an environment is safe.
SOME COMMON CAUSES OF SLIP, TRIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
- Black ice and/or snow spots
- Greasy or heavily waxed floor surfaces
- Unsecured rugs, carpets or flooring materials
- Raised, cracked or broken sidewalks
- Poorly lit or inadequately maintained parking lots
- Impeded doorways
- Malfunctioning escalators
- Abrupt changes in elevation, such as ramps or steps
- Loose electrical cables
- Broken ladders
Slip and fall accidents are in the category of “premises liability” cases – which center on the responsibility of a property owner to care for the property – and are governed under negligence law. The key to winning a premises liability claim is having proof of negligence. It isn’t always easy to prove that a property owner knew – or should have known – about the danger on his or her property and failed to have it repaired or removed.
Example: If you slip and fall on a piece of fruit in a grocery store, it would be difficult to prove when the piece of fruit first fell on the floor. Further, it would be hard to prove that the store “knew or should have known” about the hazard. As plaintiffs bear the burden of proof, you can see the difficulty in proving a particular case such as this.
Structural damages to a building and surrounding area can be significant causes of injury. Uneven steps, cracked and uneven sidewalks, and parking lot potholes can all present hazardous situations to a building’s visitors. But again, to prove negligence, you would have to show that the property’s owner knew or should have known about the problem and did nothing to rectify it.
Negligence can also be proven when a property owner violates a statute, such as not having installed handrails, and an injury occurs as a result.
SLIP, TRIP AND FALL INJURIES
Injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents run the gamut from minor to major. Victims may suffer head injuries, including concussion or traumatic brain injury. Recent scientific research has shown that even “mild” instances of TMI (traumatic brain injury) can result in long-term adverse consequences for victims, including cognitive and memory problems, and issues involving poor balance and mobility.
Other injuries commonly incurred in slip and fall cases include nerve damage, spinal cord injury, paralysis, bone fractures and breaks, burns, lacerations and in tragic cases, loss of life.