Slip and fall injuries are part of the greater category of falling injuries, which are some of the most devastating personal injuries there are — comprising a top workplace danger and a scourge of older adults responsible for 3 million emergency room visits per year.
Slip and fall cases, also known as trip and fall, are a type of premises liability — incidents caused by an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property. Not all properties are maintained as they should be, and many of these oversights can lead to a slip and fall accident.
The National Floor Safety Institute states that falls are the leading reason people visit hospital emergency rooms. 22 percent of slip and fall incidents cause those injured to miss more than one month from work, and the most serious of these injuries — like broken bones and head and spinal injuries — can permanently affect quality of life or even cause death.
Whether the hazard is cracked pavement, loose wires, insufficient lighting or something work-related, the person who fell deserves to be compensated for their losses. Falls can be harsh on our bodies, and their consequences can be devastating.
Why Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
Slip and fall cases depend on two factors — the negligence of the owner and/or renter of the space where the injury occurred, and a lack of fault in the plaintiff. Proprietors, landlords and homeowners have a duty to keep their property free from serious hazards. If they fail to do so — despite their best efforts otherwise — and someone gets hurt while exercising reasonable diligence, the site operator may be held responsible.
Some causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Slippery floors: Perhaps the number one reason why people slip and fall is due to slippery floors. Floors may be dangerous if they are wet due to rain being tracked in, a puddle of food or liquid being spilled, or overly waxed floors. Staff for the property must be alert at all times to slippery areas and attend to the problem with urgency.
- Loose wires: Not only do exposed wires look bad, but a person can easily trip on wires that are not pulled back neatly. Wires may be exposed from underneath furniture or objects and become a risk for anyone passing by.
- Messy areas: Items left in frequently used pathways are accidents just waiting to happen. For example, if a retail store does not pick up dropped products in a timely fashion, it can become a tripping hazard. When people walk, they are not often staring at their feet. This can be particularly true for shoppers, as they are looking upwards at the shelves since that’s where the majority of products are located.
- Poorly lit areas: When lighting is not adequate, it can lead to visitors stumbling and falling. While the conditions may not be hazardous, it is the lack of lighting that can cause the person to misjudge their steps. For example, a visitor that is exiting a store at night may slip and fall on the curb because the outdoor lights for the facility were burnt out. Chances are, the visitor would not have fallen if the lights were replaced promptly.
- Uneven, broken sidewalks: It’s not only the things that are on a property owner’s premises that they’re responsible for, but also the sidewalk that leads to their property — whether the quality of the paving, or any debris, ice or snow that may be covering it.
- Snow or ice that has not been removed after it has stopped accumulating: Snow and ice can also cause slip and fall issues on other parts of a property, like parking areas, entrances and patios.
- Design flaws on the property: If a property has a design flaw that’s not obvious to a casual observer, like a loose handrail by the stairs, this can be cause for a slip and fall suit.
- A hidden defect on the walking surface, like a broken stair: Broken stairs are the most common design flaw found in people’s houses, and one of the deadliest.
The Potential for Serious Slip and Fall Injuries at Your Local Supermarket
The potential for slip and fall supermarket dangers don’t end in the parking lot. While you are browsing the aisles and checking off your shopping list, the store should be making an effort to maintain their premises to ensure safety for their patrons and employees. Extensive products, fresh produce, and clean and stocked shelves encourage customer loyalty. But a store’s behind-the-scenes maintenance is crucial for efficient and safe shopping conditions.
The most common reasons for slip and fall injuries in stores are wet or oily floors. Slippery surfaces are usually caused by recently mopped or waxed floors and spilled liquids. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that retail businesses have safety guidelines to monitor store conditions for the well-being of their employees. If they fail in their duty to provide the same standard of care to their customers and do not notify them of a hazard that results in a serious injury, the store may be liable. Based on the factors of your slip and fall, we can determine if a personal injury claim can be filed.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall in a grocery store, you should:
- Notify the store management
- Obtain potential witness information
- Take photos of the scene
- File an accident report — you can do this by asking for the store manager
- Seek medical attention immediately
Dental Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents
Dental injuries are common in slip and fall accidents. Victims who are injured because of a property owner’s negligence can experience broken bones as well as broken teeth or other injuries to the facial region. These types of injuries can be serious as well as painful. They can require costly treatment that might last years. For instance, if a tooth’s root is injured the person may not experience symptoms until years later when a root canal becomes unavoidable.
Without the guidance of a lawyer with experience in slip and fall injuries, the victim may not know how to file a claim for anticipated damages as well as those that have already occurred.
When a person slips on an uneven, slippery or broken surface they may be unable to stop their momentum. As a result, they are likely to fall to the ground. This is usually an uncontrolled fall and it can lead to any number of injuries. If the person’s face or head makes contact with the ground, it can cause one or more serious issues such as:
- Fractured or broken jaw
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Misaligned teeth
Knee Injuries Commonly Seen in Slip and Fall Accidents
Roughly speaking, there are about a million people in the U.S. who visit the emergency room each year due to slip and fall-related incidents. Many of these accident victims have sustained knee injuries.
When it comes to being able to walk normally and living without chronic pain, having healthy knees is crucial. A good lawyer can ensure that medical costs related to your knee injury — both urgent and rehabilitative — are covered moving forward. Some knee injuries are more severe than others and can require a lot of medical care well into the future.
The most common knee injuries include:
- Knee fractures: When a person tumbles forward after slipping, they often land directly onto their knees. This force could cause the knee joint or kneecap to fracture. Kneecap fractures are also known as patellar fractures, and may require a surgical procedure to treat. While every case of knee fracture varies, most people will endure a significant degree of pain, swelling, bruising, knee weakness and discomfort.
- Knee joint tears: The meniscus is the knee joint, and can tear completely from a slip and fall. In the midst of a tumble, a person may suddenly turn or twist their knee while their foot stays in the same place. A meniscus tear can heal by itself with rest and physical therapy. But, if the meniscus doesn’t heal after that, a knee doctor may then suggest surgery.
- Knee sprains: A knee sprain result when the ligaments are pushed beyond their capacity. It doesn’t matter which direction a person takes a tumble, as the sprain occurs due to very sudden movements. A popping sound may be heard at the moment the ligament is stretched too far. Symptoms often associated with knee sprains include bruising, swelling, stiffness and pain. Knee sprains can be fairly debilitating, causing the person to have difficulty walking in the weeks or months after.
- ACL injuries: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur when the knee has been twisted, jerked from side to side or bent backwards in an unnatural way. A knee doctor may determine that the victim of the slip and fall has sustained either a partial tear, complete tear or avulsion. An avulsion is perhaps the most painful, as this happens if the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) endures a full twist. As with other knee injuries, pain and swelling may be observed shortly after a slip and fall accident.
No matter what your knee injury looks like, it may take a lot of time and attention before it heals. Please consider speaking with an experienced Philadelphia, PA slip and fall lawyer about your legal options so that you can better ensure that your accident-related knee injury is properly attended to moving forward.
Other Circumstances That Can Cause a Slip and Fall Include
- A pool of water accumulated from a leaking refrigerator or freezer
- A store employee leaving product remnants on the floor after stocking shelves
- Produce lying on the floor that the store should have noticed
- Liquid from a punctured grocery item leaking onto the floor
Assessing Slip and Fall Liability
The ubiquitous yellow “Caution: Wet Floor” signs cordoning off a certain area are an obvious warning for customers that a precarious condition exists. Property owners are obligated to notify customers of these conditions and clean up spills in a timely manner. The courts have held that a business owner is deemed to have given “constructive notice” of a substance on the floor when it could have reasonably been discovered by regular inspections. If there was enough time for them to notice the offending condition, and no action was taken to rectify it, they can be held liable for a customer’s injuries.
It is the owner’s responsibility to keep their property clear of dangers, but proving liability is often more complicated than that — and without doing so it will be impossible to receive compensation for your injuries. That is why it is vital that you have an experienced slip and fall attorney on your side.
Some slip and fall accidents are simply accidents, and the victim has no one to blame or hold accountable. In other cases, a negligent property owner may be liable for damages. When the injuries are serious — and the potential costs run high — it’s more likely that the at-fault party will deny responsibility. Their insurance company may deny your claim with prejudice.
When to Consult with an Experienced Slip and Fall Attorney
When you enlist the help of our team immediately after getting hurt, you put yourself in a stronger position when dealing with the insurance company. They are far more likely to take your claims seriously, as they know that we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit if they refuse to act in good faith. Although it is illegal for the insurance company to deny paying fair compensation for a valid claim, it pays to have people on your side with a clear understanding of what must be included in the claim to establish its validity.
We care about justice for those who have suffered from debilitating injuries through no fault of their own. With the help of our team, you can learn about the possibilities for legal action in acquiring the compensation you deserve. With 30 years of experience in personal injury law, McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is well suited to evaluate the situation and help determine if the injury suffered involved acts of negligence.
Our team can help you set things right and rebound after a terrible slip and fall accident. If you are considering filing a lawsuit against a company, facility or individual for not providing a safe environment, please fill out our form or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.