According to the National Floor Safety Institute, more than 1 million people visit the emergency room every year as a result of slip and fall injuries. Slip and falls can cause serious harm and may even be fatal, especially if the fall victim is a young child or an elderly person.
While slip and falls occur for many reasons, often they could have been prevented if there were not hazardous conditions that caused the accident to happen. Property owners and renters who invite guests into their establishment or home while there are dangerous conditions on the premises can and should be held responsible for the slip and fall injuries they cause.
How Does a Slip and Fall Happen?
Anyone can suffer a slip and fall simply by tripping over his or her own feet. However, many falls – and especially those that cause serious injury – usually occur as a result of dangerous conditions. For example, some of the top causes of slip and fall injuries include:
- Slippery or wet floors or parking lots
- Uneven tile or flooring surfaces
- Raised or cracked sidewalks
- A change in elevation such as a small step-down
- Broken railings
- Uneven or too narrow stair treads
- Abrupt edges on sidewalks or on driveways
- Inadequate lighting
- Unsecured rugs or carpets
- Appliance or other cords stretched across a walking path
- A change in floor surface
These dangerous conditions that lead to slip and falls can exist in shopping centers, restaurants, stores, private homes or apartments, or on public spaces such as on sidewalks.
Who is Responsible for a Slip and Fall?
When a slip and fall happens, it is important to determine who was responsible for the fall. If there were dangerous or hazardous conditions that caused the victim to trip and injure himself, the owner or the renter who was in control of and in charge of maintaining the property can be held legally responsible for the slip and fall accident.
To determine if a property owner or renter should be held liable for a slip and fall injury, it is important to understand:
- What obligation, if any, the property owner had to the injured victim: Stores, restaurants and other public places that invite guests in to do business have the highest duty to their patrons and must inspect the premises and either warn guests of dangerous conditions or fix hazards that exist. Homeowners also have a duty to guests and friends they invite over, but, while they must fix hazards or warn guests about them, they have no obligation to inspect for them and must only take care of risks they know about or reasonably should be aware of.
- Whether that obligation was breached: If the property owner failed to maintain the property in a reasonably safe way, the owner can be held legally liable.
- The extent of the injuries: Slip and fall accident victims or their loved ones can obtain compensation for medical bills and costs, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress and wrongful death damages. A slip and fall accident lawyer can help to determine and prove the extent of the losses.