Slip and fall accidents are common occurrences among people of all age groups. Not only have you likely seen countless people fall in your lifetime, but you yourself have likely taken a tumble or two over the years. Most slip and falls are harmless and result in little more than a bruised ego and a skinned knee. Others, however, can have damaging and costly consequences that may require extensive medical intervention.
When a slip and fall results in serious bodily injury, you may, like so many other people, assume the incident was a result of bad luck and clumsiness on your part. This is not always the case. Despite the precautions you take, an unmarked, unanticipated and virtually invisible hazard may trip you up, causing you to take a spill that results in fractured or broken bones and other damages. In such a situation, you are not to blame. Rather, the property owner, business owner, landlord or another third party may be. If you can prove that a third party is liable, you may have a slip and fall premises liability claim.
Premises Liability Law
Premises liability is a legal concept within personal injury law that comes into play when a person sustains an injury on another person’s or entity’s property. For premises liability to factor in, the injury must be the result of a defective or unsafe property condition.
As with all personal injury cases, for a premises liability action to have any bearing, it must hinge on negligence. In the case of a slip and fall accident, you must prove that the property owner or occupier failed to use reasonable care in connection with the property. More specifically, you must show that the property owner was negligent in one of the following ways:
- He or she acted in such a way that caused the development of the dangerous condition that caused the injury; or
- He or she should have known about and taken reasonable steps to inspect and maintain an existing or developing dangerous condition; or
- A dangerous condition existed and the property owner knew of its existence but failed to take reasonable steps to remedy it.
If you can prove any of the above to be true, you may have a slip and fall case.
Causes of Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall accidents are so commonplace and the result of an array of everyday but dangerous conditions that it is impossible to pinpoint every possible cause. That said, when slip and fall claims do arise, they often involve one or several of six factors.
Wet and/or Uneven Walking Surfaces
Wet and/or uneven walking surfaces are the most common causes of slip and fall accidents globally, accounting for more than 2 million fall-related injuries each year and more than half of all reported slip-and-fall claims. Most claims that step from walking surfaces involve damp or wet flooring. However, other surface conditions or defects also contribute to many injuries. The most common surface conditions that result in falls and subsequent injuries are as follows:
- Worn out carpeting
- Loose floorboards
- Potholes in the parking lot
- Uneven sidewalks
- Loose mats
- Freshly waxed floors
- Cluttered floors
- Poorly constructed staircases
- Pooling moisture
Each of these conditions is either fixable or preventable, which is why, when they do cause accidents, they often give rise to slip and fall claims.
Stray Electrical Wires and Cords
Electrical wires that run between cubicles or across offices often trip up office workers who hastily walk about. On construction sites, extension cords connected to power tools can cause workers to trip and sustain severe and possibly debilitating injuries on the equipment. On sidewalks, pedestrians may trip over cords outside of another person’s place of business or residence. Though they create obviously risky situations, stray cords and electrical wires are commonplace hazards that result in hundreds of trip and fall cases each year.
Poor lighting in office buildings, retail locations, restaurants and other spaces that are otherwise unfamiliar to people cause hundreds of reported cases of slip and fall accidents each year. Improperly lit footpaths and staircases make it difficult for persons to navigate safely and, at times, impossible for them to see obstacles without first tripping over them. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires all business and building owners to maintain sufficient lighting both inside and outside of buildings. If a building owner fails to follow OSHA protocol, he or she could be liable for any accidents that result from poor illumination.
One study of the role of slip-resistant footwear in the reduction of slip and fall cases across certain industries showed that the shoes you wear does, in fact, matter. Not only does slip-resistant footwear help protect against random slips and falls but also, it could reduce the risk of falling even on wet, slippery and/or greasy surfaces. At the very least, you should wear shoes with proper traction and, if possible, avoid wearing high heels.
Broken and/or damaged handrails
The very purpose of handrails is to support people who are climbing up and down the stairs and/or who need assistance when walking along a flat path. If a handrail is broken or damaged, or if it is missing entirely, it may fail to do its job and cause a walker to fall and sustain serious injuries. In the case of a broken or damaged handrail, the property owner is almost always liable.
In some cases, the victim may be directly responsible for his or her accident. However, indirectly, an employer may be liable for failing to properly train the employee on how to walk or act in certain situations. This is often the case with construction accidents that involve scaffolding, beams, ladders, and other precarious equipment.
When To Contact a Connecticut Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
A slip and fall accident can result in significant injuries that may require extensive and costly medical care. Those include sprains, fractures and breaks, each of which can put you out of work and adversely affect other areas of your life. In worst-case scenarios, a fall can result in a head injury, punctured organ or other life-threatening injuries. Regardless of the extent of your injuries, if you believe that the property owner’s negligence led to your accident, you should contact a Connecticut slip and fall lawyer right away. The right attorney can help you understand your rights, build a claim and pursue the compensation you need to recover in comfort. To get started on your claim, contact Gould Injury Law today.