What conditions cause the most slip and fall injuries?
It’s that time of year again. The weather is slowly cooling down. And before you know it, winter is going to be upon us. That leads perfectly into the first condition that causes many slip and fall injuries:
Ice and Snow
Slip and fall injuries involving these elements happen most commonly in parking lots and on sidewalks. In regard to the law, there’s no specifically defined time limits or accumulation limits before a property owner becomes “negligent.” In fact, the real question under current law appears to be whether the ice or snow resulted from natural accumulation or unnatural accumulation.
Many courts are hesitant to allow the recovery of damages if the ice or snow that caused the slip and fall accident was the result of natural accumulation, i.e. an “Act of God”. Courts will generally, however, allow the recovery of damages if the ice or snow was the result of unnatural accumulation. For example, if the weather was below freezing and there was no precipitation but an apartment complex left the sprinklers on they could be found negligent for creating the dangerous condition at issue. That is to say, no ice would have been present but for the apartment complex leaving the sprinklers on.
Poor Outdoor Lighting
With shorter daylight hours already upon us, poor lighting becomes a bigger hazard. If you trip on a curb, going up the stairs, or on an unexpectedly uneven surface, you may have a premises liability claim. Much of the validity of the case will depend on whether the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition and whether they did anything to fix it.
Hazardous Floor Surfaces
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) (Funny that there is such a thing, isn’t it? But it’s 100% real.), 55% of slip-and-fall cases happen because of hazardous walking surfaces. This includes uneven surfaces outdoors, cluttered floors, torn carpet, recently mopped floors, and other dangerous conditions.
In this case, assume the parking lot isn’t covered in ice or snow. Property owners have a duty to maintain their parking lots so they are reasonably safe for your use. That means cracks and holes need to be filled. Remember, however, if a pothole is large enough that it is easily observable, the property owner will argue you should have seen it prior to sustaining your injury.
Often times store employee(s) create the dangerous condition at issue. For example, if a retail employee mops a floor and doesn’t put a sign on the ground to let customers know the floor is wet, unsuspecting customers are exposed to an unexpected and dangerous condition. If a customer is injured a good attorney will argue the store had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition, given its employee created said condition. Other times employee(s) are aware of a spill on the ground and leave the spill unattended instead of blocking the area off and/or guarding the spill until another team member can be located.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident due to another’s negligence contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.