Slip and fall injuries are among the top reasons why someone is sued for personal injury. A slip and fall injury is one that results from a property owner being negligent and not taking care of dangerous conditions. If someone can prove that you had an obligation to keep your property and premises safe and that you failed to do so, then they just might be able to win against you to court.
To be found negligent in a slip and fall accident, there are four things that the plaintiff must prove. The first is that they must show that you had a relationship that warrants a duty of care on your behalf. For instance, if someone enters your shop, you have an obligation as a shop owner to ensure their safety. The relationship that you have with a consumer as a business owner means that you have a duty of care for their safety.
Secondly, the plaintiff must show that you breached the duty of care. If you didn’t take steps to ensure a consumer’s safety, or if you did something that lead to their slip and fall injury, that is a breach of duty in the eyes of the courts.
The plaintiff must then show that you knew that a slip hazard existed or that any reasonable person could have foreseen that it would have ended in injury, and that you failed to address the situation that led to their slip and fall. Lastly, the plaintiff must be able to prove that they were actually injured as a result of negligence on behalf of the defendant.
Slips are a type of injury where a person encounters a slick surface and it is that slick surface that causes them to lose their balance and fall. If someone is walking and they slip due to their own clumsiness, then the property owner would not be liable for any resulting injuries. If they slip because the surface of the floor is slick, then it would be the fault of the property owner for not safely maintaining their floors.
Conditions that pose a slip hazard that should be addressed by the property owner are:
- Ice or frozen water that is left unchecked
- Any surfactant or lubricant on the floor that leads to the floor not being slip-resistant
- Liquid, water, or any material on the top of a nonporous floor (ie. one that is sealed or polished like hardwood, marble, tile or even concrete if it is polished)
- Any wet conditions left behind from things like mopping or painting
- Any other types of industrial chemicals that can lead to the floor being slippery
When someone trips over something and falls, it is still considered a “slip and fall” injury. A tripping hazard is anything that is left as an obstacle on the ground. It can also mean an unbalance in the floor, or even a tilt that is unnoticeable. In most cases, sudden changes in the floor are more dangerous than gradual ones.
An example of a tripping hazard would be a pothole in a parking lot, a broken tile that hasn’t been repaired in a bathroom, or even a linoleum tile that is buckling. If you notice any of these types of tripping hazards, it is imperative to block entry until it can be fixed.
To make sure that you don’t find yourself in a personal injury slip and fall suit, it is important to address any defects, spills or other conditions that might pose a risk to someone if they come to your property. If someone can prove that you knew about a hazard, or that you should have because any other reasonable person could have foreseen a danger, then you will be responsible for paying for their injuries.
To ensure that you minimize the risk of being the target of a personal injury suit, inspect the property thoroughly, close off areas that are known to have a hazard lurking and immediately address anything that could pose a risk. Fixing something might be expensive, but not nearly expensive as being found negligent in a personal injury suit.