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Slip and Fall Accidents - Causes and Liability

Robert Karns

Slip and fall accidents have multiple causes giving rise to liability for the injuries that occur.

Slip and fall accidents result in more than 8 million emergency room visits, more than 21,000 deaths, and countless injuries each year.

Some of the causes of slip and fall accidents that give rise to liability are as follows:

  • Slippery Floors - Public areas such as stores and hotels have a duty to place slippery when wet signs up when they are washing the floors and must warn the public. In addition, floor covering in these areas must be slip resistant and designed to prevent falls. A tribometer can be utilized to test the coefficient of friction or slip resistance of the floor covering
  • Spills - In retail stores, hotels and restaurants often times a worker or a patron will spill something on the floor and will leave it there. This can cause a shopper or customer to fall because of the spill causing serious injury. Although there are notice requirements giving the store, hotel or restaurant time to clean up the spill this must be done within reason. If the substance on the floor looks as though it has been there for a while such as being tracked around then there would be a liability as it would be determined that the store or restaurant knew or should have known of the problem. In addition, there are new laws that do away with the notice requirement such as "mode of operation". This law states that if a business is self-service and it could be expected that someone would spill something on the floor then they are liable if someone falls.
  • Defects in Walkways - Many defects exist in walkways and floorings such as a difference in height that abruptly occurs, large cracks or missing pieces or holes. All of these are hazardous and can cause someone to trip on them causing them to suffer severe injuries. There are many safety codes that govern these defects some of which state there is a liability if the defect is over one-quarter of an inch.
  • Stairways - Defects on stairways are extremely dangerous and can occur if the treads on the stairway are loose, if the steps and risers are different sizes and heights making the walking area extremely irregular or if the stairway is missing railings. Building codes including local, state and federal all govern these areas and indicate the necessity of railing, the height of the railings, the size, and dimensions of steps and risers and the design of the staircase.

Slip and fall accidents have many causes that give rise to liability and cause serious injuries.

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