Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents occur frequently and can result in serious injuries. Do you know what to look out for and how to avoid a slip and fall accident? Do you know what you should do if you are in a slip and fall accident?
In this article, the Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers at Cousin Benny explain the common causes of slip and fall accidents, the types of injuries that can occur, and who is liable if you are injured in a slip and fall accident.
Someone who was injured on someone else’s property, whether it is residential, commercial, or government-owned property, may be entitled to compensation. If you’ve suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident, don’t wait – call Cousin Benny for help. We will discuss your slip and fall case with you and tell you how much it’s worth – free of charge!
What Conditions Lead to Slip and Fall Accidents?
Property owners are responsible for keeping their premises reasonably free of slip or trip hazards and to warn of any existing hazards. If they do not, they may be negligent and owe compensation to anyone who is injured by those hazards. These are the conditions commonly leading to slip, trip, and fall accidents.
Wet or Slippery Floors
An ice machine leaking, spilled beverages, a freshly-waxed or mopped floor, or a broken jar of condiments can create a slipping hazard. Shop and restaurant owners must regularly inspect their premises for wet or slippery floors and clean them within a reasonable time or post a hazard or warning sign.
Damaged, Uneven, or Obstructed Walkways
Tree roots and subsidence are common causes for uneven walkways and property owners are required to remediate that or post a warning sign. Walkways both indoor and outdoor must be kept reasonably free of obstructions that passers by would not expect to be there. Indoor floor coverings such as tile, wood, and carpet must be maintained in order to avoid tripping hazards.
Defective Staircases or Railings
People using stairs expect even treads and rely on a secured railing for support.
Worn treads and loose or poorly secured railings cause falls that can result in serious injury.
Landscape hazards such as dips in the turf, low hanging branches, gravel on sidewalks, and high grass obscuring uneven ground or rocks frequently cause people to trip and fall. Landscapers must take care to ensure all equipment and tools are stored and not left lying about for people to trip over.
Potholes or Ditches
Construction sites often have trenches ditches present, and if they are not cordoned off passers by must be warned about their presence to avoid falling. Potholes in ground or macadam surfaces should be filled and until they are filled, marked with a warning sign.
Park or Playground Hazards
If municipalities offer public playgrounds or parks, they must keep them free of slip, trip, and fall hazards such as uneven ground or walkways and broken playground equipment or benches.
Ice and Snow
Ice and snow cause slippery conditions that pose slip and fall hazards, and also obscure objects in walkways that could cause passers by to trip.
Escalators or Elevators
Anything moving has the potential to surprise people and cause them to trip and fall. If the escalator is not moving smoothly and predictably, it is easy to miscalculate a step and trip. With elevators, if they are not property maintained they may not stop level with the floor, causing a trip hazard. Both escalators and elevators should operate smoothly and slowly. Any abrupt starting or stopping causes a trip hazard.
Poor lighting is a common cause of slips, trips, and falls, because one cannot see unevenness, obstructions, or slippery conditions and avoid or anticipate them.
Common Injuries in Slip and Fall Accidents
When one slips and falls, injuries vary from minor scrapes or bruises to broken pelvises and brain trauma. If you’ve slipped and fallen, seek medical treatment as soon as you can, because many injuries, such as internal bleeding and brain injury, are not immediately apparent.
Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes
If you are lucky, you have suffered only external injuries such as minor bruising, scrapes, and perhaps a cut from your slip and fall accident. If you fell hard and have severe bruising, contact your doctor as this may be evidence of a serious internal injury.
Sprains and Fractures
Internal injury to muscles, ligaments, and bones is very possible in a slip and fall accident. People often sprain or break bones if they attempt to break their fall with their outstretched hands, they may strain or break their wrist, forearm, upper arm, or shoulder, or even dislocate their shoulder.
If their hands were full when they tripped, they may sprain or break bones at their impact point or may have fallen to their knees or on their hip, which could cause a fracture.
Spine and Neck Injuries
While not as common as fractures and sprains, a slip and fall or trip and fall can result in a spine or neck injury, depending upon where the person fell. Falling on their head or buttocks or head contact with an object during the fall can cause fractured vertebrae, herniated discs, and even damage to the spinal cord itself.
If not immediately debilitating, these injuries can appear at first to be only soft tissue injuries. Be forewarned that spine and neck injuries can be serious and have life-long consequences such as impaired function or chronic pain, so contact your doctor if your neck is sore or achy or if you feel tingling in your legs, arms, or hands.
Head and Brain Injuries
If someone falls and hits their head, injuries range from contusions, scrapes and cuts to brain trauma from the impact. Anyone who slips and falls and hits their head should get medical attention at once and be scanned for brain injury.
Knee and Ankle Injuries
Twisting an ankle or knee in a slip and fall accident is common, unfortunately. These injuries may require surgery and extensive physical therapy to recover.
Shoulder, Elbow, and Wrist Injuries
Again, attempting to break one’s fall by reaching out can cause sprains and breaks in hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Falling on one’s shoulder often impacts the clavicle as well.
Fractured hips and pelvises are common especially among older people who fall. Because hip fractures require a great deal of bed rest and take a long time to recover from, they are especially dangerous for the older population due to muscle atrophy and other conditions that may arise while confined to bed in a hospice situation.
Any type of injury can cause chronic pain even if medically treated. A sprained ankle may heal but feel achy if one spends too much time on their feet or it is about to rain. A spine injury may result in nerve damage that permanently impairs function and causes pain.
If you are in chronic pain due to a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. Call an experienced slip and fall attorney to discuss your case.
Who is Liable for Slip and Fall Injuries?
Everyone is required to watch out for themselves and exercise reasonable caution. However, if the property owner or a third party, such as a tenant, maintenance company, is negligent in maintaining the property and created or allowed a hazard that caused you to slip and fall, they may be liable to you and owe you compensation for your damages under the legal theory of premises liability.
The best way to determine who is liable for your injuries from a slip and fall accident is to contact an experienced slip and fall attorney in your jurisdiction. That attorney should meet with you to discuss whether you have a premises liability case, free of charge.
Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that any compensation a victim of a slip and fall accident is due is reduced by the percentage they were at fault for the accident.
For example, if someone was carrying groceries and did not see the uneven sidewalk outside the grocery store, they may be 0% at fault for their accident because the grocery store owner should have anticipated that people carrying groceries could not see the uneven sidewalk. If that same person was walking by the grocery store texting on their cell phone and tripped on that same sidewalk, they may be found 50% or more responsible for their accident because they should have been paying attention to where they were going and what was in their path.
A slip and fall accident victim in Pennsylvania can recover compensation as long as they are 50% or less at fault for causing the accident.
The Type of Property and Why You Are There Matters
Whether the property owner or a third party is liable to you for your injuries in a slip and fall accident in Pennsylvania depends upon the type of property it is and what you were doing there.
If you are visiting a commercial or government property you are likely an “invitee” which means either the property owner expects to profit from your presence there, or you are entitled to be there as a member of the public, such as in a public park. That property owner owes you the highest duty of care, to promptly remediate hazards they know of or should have known of or to warn you of them.
If you are invited to visit a property such as a friend’s house for a party, you are a “licensee” and your host owes you a lesser duty of care, only to keep the property reasonably free of hazards and to warn of existing hazards.
If you are a trespasser on any property, the owner owes you only the duty to refrain from wanton or willful negligence or creating hazards intentionally.
Speak to a Philadelphia Slip and Fall Attorney Today
If you suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident or a trip and fall accident, you must focus your energy on healing and recovering. Let the slip and fall attorneys at Cousin Benny help you get the compensation you deserve. Call today to discuss your case – free of charge!