Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of premises liability incidents that result in serious personal injuries. Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents could especially result in life-changing injuries for older adults. However, even those who are younger could end up suffering debilitating injuries that could leave them with chronic pain or lifelong disabilities. Slip-and-fall accidents may occur anywhere – at home, work, school, the mall, supermarkets or retail stores, vacation rentals, nursing homes or at businesses.
Regardless of where these incidents occur, it is important that victims do not admit fault. This is a mistake to avoid in a slip and fall accident. It is also critical to understand that there are a number of parties who could have a role in your incident. A number of these types of incidents occur because property owners, managers or other parties may have failed to properly maintain the property. Negligence is often a key factor in slip and fall accidents. This guide will elaborate on some of the main causes of slip and fall accidents and how you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Here are some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents in California:
Wet and Uneven Floors
Flooring conditions are among the most common causes of slip and fall accidents. Some of these dangerous or defective flooring conditions include:
- Uneven flooring or surfaces that are slick or wet because they have not been mopped properly
- Loose floorboards, tiles, rugs or mats that could pose a tripping hazard
- Not using signage or barriers to close off wet or slick areas
- Failure to use non-skid floor treatments when required
- Damaged, torn or bulging carpeting
- Surfaces that are snow-covered or icy
- Spills that have not been cleaned up
- Grease or oil that has not been cleaned up
Property owners, mangers and other parties have a responsibility to make sure they are exercising due care to eliminate dangers on their property and reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents.
Environmental conditions can also lead to slip and fall accidents. Example of such hazards include trash or debris on the floor; poor lighting that could make it more difficult for people to see hazards; open cabinets or drawers; and poor flooring transitions (different levels or going from one flooring material to another). It is the duty of property owners and other responsible parties to remove debris and obstacles from walking areas and provide adequate lighting on their properties.
Weather can also result in slip and fall accidents. Where there is snow, building owners have a responsibility to shovel walkways and salt snow-covered areas. A number of slip-and-fall cases are caused by weather-related dangerous conditions.
Unsafe Ladders and Stairs
Using unsafe ladders and stairs could result in a slip and fall accident. Some dangerous situations involving ladders and stairs include:
- Lack of handrails or damaged handrails
- Worn or warped carpeting on stairs
- Damaged or unstable steps
- Debris and trash on stairs
- Stairs that lack non-skid surfaces
- Failure to secure a ladder that is in use
- A defective ladder
Such risks can be reduced by making sure stairways are properly maintained. Those using ladders should make sure it is on even ground and that they are wearing the proper footwear while using ladders.
Improper Safety Practices
When workplaces fail to adhere to proper safety practices and procedures, there is an increased risk of slip and fall accidents. In order to prevent slip and fall accidents, all workers should be provided with proper job and safety training. They should also be trained on how to use safety equipment and tools used to stay safe on the job. When companies fail to comply with key safety practices, the consequences can be devastating.
Lack of proper training is one of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents in the construction industry. Each and every employee must receive not only protective equipment to help prevent falls, but they must also be trained on safety practices and procedures in a language they can understand. Proper training is a crucial element when it comes to avoiding slip-and-fall accidents.
Stray Cords and Electrical Wires
Stray electrical cords and wires are notorious when it comes to trip and fall accidents. It is the responsibility of property owners, property managers and other parties to make sure these types of dangers are not present on their premises. Failing to mitigate these hazards could leave them open to liability in slip and fall cases.
Nursing Home Neglect
A number of slip and fall cases originate in nursing homes. The elderly are prone to serious injuries as a result of falls that could cause their condition to deteriorate very quickly. Elderly people or those who are ill have a reduced sense of balance, which puts them at a higher risk of falling. Nursing home administrators and staff are required to assist and monitor their residents to prevent the risk of a slip and fall accident.
Improper footwear is one of the top causes of slip and fall accidents, which could be easily prevented. If the shoes don't offer traction and support, you are likely to slip and fall. The right type of shoes are required depending on the task or situation. By wearing the right type of shoes, one can help minimize the risk of a fall.
Handrails have a specific purpose – to help people as they walk on pavements or stairways. Many slip and fall cases occur because handrails are broken or because there are no handrails provided. Handrails can also provide critical support in bathrooms especially for individuals who are elderly, ill or frail. If you slip and fall because a facility lacks handrails, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses.
Poor lighting in buildings and facilities could result in a serious slip and fall accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires workplaces to be well-lit in order to prevent falls. This is true for any property including parking lots or structures where lack of proper lighting could pose serious safety issues and risks.
Most Slip and Fall Accidents Can Sometimes Be Avoided
It is important to understand that a vast majority of slip and fall accidents can be avoided. Risks can be minimized. Employers must take precautions in the workplace and provide workers with safety equipment and the necessary training to avoid these types of accidents. Property owners, property managers, maintenance companies and other parties have a duty to maintain their premises in a manner that is safe for tenants, visitors and guests.
Prevention of Slip and Fall Accidents for Property Owners
There are a number of steps property owners can and should take to prevent slip and fall accidents: Reduce wet or slippery surfaces. Property owners can prevent slip and fall accidents by making sure their floors are not slick because of spilled liquids and posting warning signs. It is also important to use non-skid materials on flooring where appropriate and soak up excess moisture on floors with mats at entrances.
Remove obstacles from aisles and walkways. Property owners should always keep walkways and aisles clear of debris and obstacles that could pose a hazard.
Create and maintain proper lighting. When there is inadequate lighting, it could pose a slip and fall hazard due to lack of proper visibility.
Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents
Under California's premises liability law, landlords, property owners and managers owe a duty of reasonable care to prevent injuries on their property. In order to recover compensation in a slip-and-fall accident, victims or plaintiffs must prove that the defendant was negligent because:
- A dangerous condition on the property created an unreasonable risk of harm
- The defendant knew or should have known about the danger
- The defendant failed to remedy the condition and failed to provide sufficient warning about the hazard
One of the key factors in winning a slip and fall case is to prove that your fall and injuries were the result of the defendant's negligence. Some crucial pieces of evidence in a slip and fall case include your doctor's treatment notes, video footage of the incident and eyewitness statements. Our slip and fall lawyers know how to secure such evidence so you are poised to get the settlement you rightfully deserve.
Getting Legal Help
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The statute of limitations to bring a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit in California is generally two years from the date of the accident. So, if you delay filing the lawsuit, you may not be able to seek compensation for your losses.
It would be in your best interest to contact an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer who will ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way and help you secure maximum compensation for your losses. Contact the Vaziri Law Group Personal Injury Attorneys at 310-777-7540 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.