Slip And Fall Accidents
A lot of times, we don’t think much of a little slip here and there. If we fall, we often laugh. We think of slipping or tripping and subsequently falling as clumsiness or simple accidents that can occur any time. But slipping and falling isn’t something that should always be taken so lightly. You could be seriously injured as a result of slipping and falling, and if an injury occurs on someone else’s property, they may be held accountable for your injury in a court of law. Slip and fall accidents can even be fatal.
What Qualifies as a Slip and Fall Accident?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks down slips and falls into two categories: same-level falls and elevated falls. Same-level falls occur more frequently than elevated falls, and therefore there is a higher record of injuries. A same-level fall for example, is when you’re walking in the garden of a hotel and there is a stepping-stone that is unsteady. You place your foot upon it and become off balance, swaying and falling to the ground. That could result in a twisted ankle or a gash on your leg that may require stitches. Another example is let’s say you’re at a laundromat doing your weekly load of clothes. One of the washers is broken and has leaked all over the floor. You don’t notice the spill and there is no sign warning customers to be careful, and you slip and hit your head on the tile floor. You could get a concussion.
An elevated fall, on the other hand, usually happens from a height less than 10 feet. For example, you could be living in a townhome and while walking up the stairs, one of the steps gives way and you fall through. Another situation could be if you are leaning against the railing of a balcony and it breaks, and you fall to the ground below.
The CDC estimates more than 1 million Americans suffer from a slip, trip and fall injury, with 17,000 dying because of the injuries they’ve endured. Slip and falls most commonly occur among older adults, with 1,800 adults ages 65 and older passing away because of injuries sustained from slipping and falling in nursing homes. Brain and spinal cord injuries can occur, and hip fractures are the most serious of injuries for older adults, as a hip fracture can result in long-term impairment, and the need to be admitted into a nursing home or assisted living. These costs are expensive, especially for someone lacking a disposable income. The CDC calculates that by the year 2020, the cost of fall injuries in older adults will equal nearly $55 billion.
Reasons for Slip and Fall Accidents
One of the most common reasons for slips and falls is slippery surfaces. A spilled beverage at a restaurant or a liquid substance while on the job can present a hazard. If a pipe has burst at a place of business because of the extreme cold, the water across the floor could potentially be dangerous for people using the premises. Even buckled carpet or dented tile at a retail business can cause a customer to trip, lose their balance and fall.
Property and business owners should always ensure their property is well lit and well maintained. Steps, stairways, ramps or sloping areas should have stair treads or handrails. Grips should be placed beneath mats and rugs. Clutter such as boxes, toys and loose cords should not be in someone’s path. Floors should be smooth and have flowing transitions. If a nail is sticking up from the floor and someone steps on it and falls and injures their spine, that may be the property owner’s fault.
As you can see, slip and fall accidents aren’t always just a single trip to the chiropractor. They may result in physical or occupational therapy, several surgeries, hiring an at-home health aide or being put in an assisted living home. Unfortunately, your insurancepolicy probably doesn’t cover everything, and this is where the legal aspect comes into the story. Slip and fall injuries fall under premise liability, meaning a property owner may be sued or made to provide compensation for an injured party if an accident occurred on their property. That could be someone’s home, a retail space or a place for business dealings. It is a business or property owner’s duty to follow and maintain safety regulations, and failing to do so is negligent and dangerous.
But whether you are legally owed money for your injuries depends on several factors, such as whether you were a guest, a tenant, employee, business patron or trespasser. If you were aware that the area you slipped and fell was unsafe in the first place, you may not have a case. For example, if a park has clearly placed a sign near a bridge crossing a stream, stating that it is not safe for use, or a construction company has placed boards over the door of a condemned building, and someone ignores these warnings and signs and proceeds any way, that is at their own risk.
If you aren’t sure whether or not you have a slip and fall case, consult a personal injury attorney. Amy K. VanDeLoo is a licensed professional attorney in the Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney areas who knows personal injury cases in and out, including slip and falls and premise liability. She is an excellent source if you are just looking for legal advice, and the VanDeLoo Firm offers an initial free consultation. If you need someone to fight for what you deserve, you can bet Ms. VanDeLoo will stand by your side.
5700 Granite Parkway, Suite 200
Plano, Texas 75024