When a property owner fails to warn visitors of potential dangers or carelessly maintains their property, it can easily lead to a slip and fall accident. If you are a victim of a slip and fall accident you might end up with severe injuries but the good news is that you can recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Here are some quick facts about slip and fall accidents.
There are many causes of slip and fall accidents and different conditions can cause them. During winter pedestrians and children can slip and fall on icy paths or sidewalks. Sometimes people can slip and fall in an aisle of a poorly maintained supermarket. Unfortunately, proving fault in a slip and fall accident may not be as straightforward as we all would like.
There are many causes of slip and fall accidents. Some of the causes are:
1. Wet And Slippery Floors
Ice, tracked in snow or spills if not promptly cleaned up can lead to serious falls. After you have mopped the floors in your building, you should put up signs to warn visitors of wet floors in areas where there is high traffic.
2. Cluttered Floors
Debris, trash, equipment, supplies or merchandise staked on isles represent a tripping hazard. Ensure that all floors are kept free of clutter.
3. Icy Walkways
You are responsible for removing snow and ice that accumulates on your sidewalk, parking lot, stairs and steps. You are not required by the law to remove ice from or snow that accumulates outside your building as a result of the weather but if the conditions on your property cause an unnatural accumulation of ice, you may be held liable for any accidents that happen. You could be held liable when:
- Your parking lot area has a sloppy area where melting ice causes to form and then refreezes later into ice patches.
- You have a clogged drain so when ice accumulates on the roof, it melts and drips off then refreezes on the ground.
4. Damaged Floors And Stairs
You should not neglect broken or loose handrails or stair treads or floorboards, loose floor tiles, or torn carpets and mats. They can easily shift under a person’s weight and cause them to fall.
5. Poor Lighting
When there is poor lighting, you can easily trip and fall on uneven surfaces, cracks, holes, stairs and over a curb. You might be held liable if you knew about the poor lighting but did not remedy the situation.
6. Damaged Sidewalks
Generally, you will not be held responsible for injuries resulting from a slip and fall if the sidewalk on your property is owned and maintained by a town or city. However, some courts will hold you liable if customers trip and fall on a sidewalk that they use exclusively to access your business. You will be held liable if you do not repair a dangerous condition on your private walkway. Walkways can sometimes be made uneven gaps between segments and cracks in paving stones.
7. Ditches And Potholes
You should fill or cover all trenches, holes and other openings in the ground or parking lots to avoid accidents. Alternatively, you can put up warning signs or fence the area.
Places Where Slip And Fall Accidents Are Likely To Occur
As a homeowner, you need to be responsible for the safety of your visitors. An accident caused by cluttered stairs, slippery floors or a hole in the yard can be just as serious as if it happened elsewhere.
The most common occupation injuries are falls. Employers are required by federal and state government to provide employees with safety equipment, training and other safeguards to avoid slips and falls in offices, manufacturing plants, construction sites and other job sites.
The elderly living in residential care environments such as nursing homes are more prone to serious injuries resulting from slip and fall accidents.
Playgrounds And Parks
It’s not uncommon to hear that a child has been injured at the playground but parents and patrons of any age can be injured when they trip and fall down because of poorly maintained benches and play equipment or because of holes and cracks in athletic fields, lawns, walkways and other play areas. Equipment and maintenance tools used by workers also present a hazard when they are left out.
Stadiums, Arenas And Theaters
Most public performance areas have multiple levels connected by elevators, escalators, stairways and ramps. These are all potentially hazardous areas especially if they are poorly lit, are full of clutter or poorly maintained. Seating areas such as bleachers, if not properly maintained can cause falls which could lead to serious injuries.
Sit-down and fast food restaurants are hazardous areas if spills, debris, trash and clutter are not immediately cleaned up.
Slips and falls are likely to happen at stores when there is clutter on the floor or merchandise is not properly arranged on the aisles. They can also happen when the floor is wet. To prevent such accidents, store owners should put up warning signs to inform customers or people using the store of wet floors.
How To Start Your Slip And Fall Injury Claim
If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident, you might be wondering where to start when making your claim. The first few actions you take can either protect or damage your potential claim. These steps should help you make a successful claim.
Report The Accident
The first person that you should immediately report the incident to is the property owner or the person responsible for the property. If you get injured in a supermarket or any other commercial property, you should report the incident to the highest ranking person within the building. On the other hand, if you get injured on public property, you should report the matter to the town or city if the injury is not severe enough to warrant hospitalization.
Even though failing to report a slip and fall accident the moment it occurs does not bar you legally from filing a lawsuit, it is not advisable to wait more so if there were no witnesses. Many insurers will question the legitimacy of an accident claim that was reported several days after it happened and no witnesses saw it happen.
It’s advisable that you report your accident the following day and in some situations you may be required to send a notification letter.
Get The Names Of Witnesses
If there were people that saw what happened make sure that you get their contact information and their names. Witnesses to a slip and fall accident can be immensely valuable to you if you plan to make a claim against your insurance company. Witnesses can back up your story by describing details that confirm what happened to you. They may also describe other details that you may not be aware of that happened thus putting the other party at fault.
After a slip and fall accident, you may not be able to take pictures immediately but if you can, take them immediately. Take as many pictures as possible from different angles. If you do not have a camera, you can ask a friend or relative to take pictures of the accident scene. Ensure that you take pictures before the accident scene is altered in some way or before anyone fixes the area of the accident.
It is especially important to take pictures immediately if you have slipped in ice or snow. Ice and snow conditions can change at any time. Ice can be cleared or it can melt. It can be difficult to win a slip and fall accident involving snow and ice if you do not have pictures showing the way the scene was when you accident happened.
Get Medical Help
Ensure that you get medical help as soon as possible; don’t wait. Insurers will assume that your injuries were not severe enough if you did not seek medical help the moment you got into an accident. This may affect the amount of compensation you get.
Explain To The Doctor How You Got Hurt
Insurance companies and juries do not like to compensate individuals whose claims are inconsistent with their initial medical records.
For instance, let’s say that you hurt your head when you slipped and fell down the staircase. However, when you arrived at the emergency room, emergency records indicate that you told the doctor you were having headaches for several weeks and you haven’t done anything that might have aggravated it.
This is a very serious inconsistency in your case and it might not get very far. So if you were in a slip and fall accident, make sure that you make this clear to your health care provider.
Do Not Give A Statement To Your Insurer
An insurance adjuster may decide to call you after you have reported your injury. They might want you to give a recorded statement describing the details of the accident. You are not obligated by the law to do this. If you want to give out a statement, ensure that you consult a slip and fall attorney first.