Property owners owe their guests and legal visitors a certain duty of care and should take the necessary steps to inform guests of potential hazards. However, because of negligence by the property owner or management, many people continue to suffer injuries in slip (or trip) and fall accidents. Below, we will discuss the leading causes of negligence-based slip and fall accidents as well as ways to eliminate the hazards or avoid slipping and falling.
Environmental conditions refer to hazards or issues that are a product of the type of establishment in which you slip and fall. For instance, in a restaurant, you may trip on a jukebox cord or condiments that spilled on the floor; while in a grocery store, you may slip and fall on spilled samples. Environmental conditions that can cause a slip and fall accident include:
- Bright lighting that causes a glare
- Cords or wires
- Floor material transition (i.e. carpet flooring to linoleum)
- Open cabinetry or doors
- Trash or debris left on the floor
Property owners should walk through their property and attend to any obstacles in walkways, such as cords or debris. If they have different flooring materials, they should also warn their guests (with signs or verbally) that they should proceed with caution and be mindful of the change. If you are visiting a property, you should eliminate distractions (like looking at your phone) and pay attention to where you are walking.
Your footwear is important because wearing the wrong type of shoes can lead to a slip-and-fall accident. For instance, wearing heels when it’s snowing can lead to someone slipping more easily on ice or snow. Shoes that do not have good traction or grip can also be hazardous in certain conditions.
Broken or damaged handrails (i.e. the posts or wall supports on stairways) can cause a slip and fall accident. If someone is walking along the stairs or even in a bathroom and goes to use a damaged handrail, they may fall if the rail is unable to support them. To prevent an accident, handrails should be inspected to ensure they are in working order, and defective rails should be replaced as soon as possible. Until they are replaced, signs should be put up to warn visitors against using them.
Improper Safety Training or Practices
If you slip and fall at a restaurant, shopping center, or a public space, the staff may have endangered you or acted negligently. However, their employer and/or the property owner should have taken steps to ensure that their staff understood the best practices for avoiding slips and falls; they should also make sure that safety guidelines are adhered to by the staff.
To reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents, workers should not only be given the proper equipment and tools, but should also receive proper training concerning safety practices and how to use the tools and equipment. For instance, chefs and kitchen staff should be trained to address and warn each other and guests about grease or oil spills and debris.
Improper lighting inside or outside of a property can also lead to an accident. As we mentioned, in some cases, the lighting can cause a glare depending on the other material in the area. However, a lack of lighting is just as dangerous.
Property owners should install enough lighting to ensure visitors can see and should ensure the lighting doesn’t cause glares or other issues. They should also maintain the lighting on their property by replacing blown bulbs.
Uneven or Wet Floors
If the floors are wet or unkempt, people may slip or trip and fall, especially if they were not made aware of the dangerous conditions. Floor conditions that can contribute to causing a slip and fall accident include:
- Bulging or worn carpet
- Grease or oil on kitchen flooring
- Lack of signage in areas with wet flooring
- Loose flooring, mats, or rugs
- Potholes in parking lots
- Sloping floors, especially those that have been treated (i.e. waxed or polished)
- Spills in walkways
- Uneven flooring, surfaces, or pavements
- Unsalted or treated icy walkways
- Waxed or polished floors
Spills should be mopped up as soon as possible, and property owners should warn people of the dangerous areas with signage (until the issue can be fixed). Other preventative measures to help avoid slip and fall accidents include:
- Investing in floor mats at the entrances to soak up moisture
- Maintaining their flooring and pavement (i.e. filling in cracks, holes, etc. and fixing loose flooring)
- Shoveling snow and salting the ground if snow and ice are an issue
- Using no-skid materials for their flooring
Injured in a slip or trip and fall accident? Contact Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C. to learn more about your legal options. Call (203) 583-8299 today!