What Is a Slip and Fall?
The term “Slip and fall” refers to personal injury cases where someone is injured in a fall on someone else’s property. This type of personal injury case is also referred to as a “premises liability” case.
Slip and fall accidents occur frequently. “Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (3)
It is important to remember that accidents can occur anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. This includes falling in a private residence, workplace or public area. If it happens to you, be prepared to protect yourself and your rights.
CDC statistics on slip and fall accidents are startling: (4)
- Annually, upwards of 800,000 people wind up in hospitals with fall injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries are usually caused by falls.
- Falling, especially sideways, leads to 95% of hip fractures.
“Falls occur in virtually all manufacturing and service sectors. Fatal falls however are in construction, mining and certain maintenance activities,” states the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). (5)
NFSI goes on to say, “According to the American Trucking Association, slips and falls are the leading cause of compensable injury in the trucking industry.” (6)
“Work-related slip, trip, and fall incidents can frequently result in serious disabling injuries that impact a healthcare employee’s ability to do his or her job,” points out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (7)
New York Statistics
In 2018, almost one-fifth – 19% – of deaths among male workers in New York City were due to slips, trips, and falls, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (8)
“More than 17% of NYSIF claims reported in 2019 involved slips, trips and falls with clerical employees, teachers, hospital and health care workers, restaurant workers and maintenance crews high among the number of claimants,” says the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF). (9)
“Even though [slips, trips and falls] are so common, they generally tend to be overlooked, especially outside of the construction and transportation industries,” comments one NYSIF representative. (10)
If you or someone you know was injured in a slip and fall accident, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.
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Slip and Fall Risks
There are any number of factors putting you at higher risk for slips, trips, and falls resulting in serious injuries.
An important concern is the condition of floors and walkways. This can increase risks for falls, particularly if floors are wet or slippery, tiles and floorboards are loose or uneven, or walkways are cluttered. Additionally, sudden drop-downs of floors can lead to falls.
Examples of other issues increasing risks for falls are narrow stairways, insufficient lighting, and broken hand railings.
If you live or work in New York City, pay particular attention to broken or uneven pavement, inadequate signage around elevators and escalators, and the condition of steps – particularly in subways and on escalators. These are all places where falls frequently occur.
What To Do After a Slip and Fall
The steps you need to take after a slip and fall accident are:
- Document your accident by immediately seeking medical attention.
- As soon as you are able, report the accident. This information is an official record of the day, time, date, and location of the accident, as well as details of the accident scene itself.
- Be careful what you say, and who you say it to, after the accident. What you say could damage your legal case.
- Get the names of any witnesses and their contact information.
- Pictures of the accident scene can help support your claims.
- Keep and preserve the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
Hiring an Attorney
Your best course of action is to hire an attorney to handle your slip and fall case. An attorney can help you deal with insurance companies, navigate the legal system, and settle or represent you in court. Experienced attorneys know the law and can help you get the best outcome for your case.
Once you have contacted an attorney about your slip and fall accident, provide as much information as you can. This includes all the information you collected: medical documentation and bills, pictures, witness contact information, official accident report, and the clothes and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident. Your attorney uses these items to support your claims.
If your slip and fall accident was work-related, your attorney may focus on federal requirements applying to workspaces and walkways – surfaces where the accident occurred.
Federal Employment Regulations
The U.S. federal government requires employers to ensure, “All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces are kept in a clean, orderly, and sanitary condition.” (11)
Regulatory requirements specify employers are responsible to make sure: (12)
- Floors are maintained in a clean and dry condition with proper drainage; dry standing places, platforms, and mats are provided.
- Walking-working surfaces are free of hazards.
- A walking-working surface can support the maximum intended load for that surface.
- Employees have a safe means of access and egress from walking-working surfaces.
- Inspections, maintenance, and repairs are done regularly.
- Hazardous conditions on walking-working surfaces are corrected and/or guarded until repairs can be made; repairs are made before employees use the surface again.
Any violations of these regulations could be grounds for a personal injury premises liability lawsuit.
Personal injury occurring on private property hinges upon proving liability (responsibility) on the part of the property owner. In other words, you need to prove the property owner was somehow negligent.
If the accident occurs on a commercial business property, you need to prove the property owners or employees are liable and somehow negligent.
In both instances, negligence means the owner or employee failed to act in accordance with a “duty of care.” Duty of care is an obligation to act with the same caution and reasonableness any prudent person would under similar circumstances. Importantly, negligent conduct can be an action or an omission (failure to act) when there is a duty to do so. (13)
To be legally successful in a slip and fall case, you need to show the court why the owners or their employees knew or should have known three things. Their actions or omissions could cause harm, those actions actually caused the accident, and your injuries resulted from the accident.
For example, if you were seriously injured in a slip and fall accident at work because the floor had uneven tiles or dipped suddenly in one section. You need to demonstrate to the court the owner knew there were uneven tiles or a dip in the floor, had adequate time to make repairs but did not, the uneven tiles or dip caused the accident, and your injuries were a result of the accident.
Were you or a loved one injured in a slip and fall accident? You may be eligible for compensation.
Falls on Government or Public Property
Slip and fall accidents occurring on government or public property are a little more complicated. Public property includes city or state government buildings, public playgrounds, streets and roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, schools, and libraries.
To file a claim against a government or a public property means adherence to a special set of requirements and procedures. In most jurisdictions, you must file a notice with the appropriate government entity, letting them know of your intent to bring suit.
There may be a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, or limits placed on the amount of damages you can recover. For example, New York has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims of three years, beginning from the time of the accident. (14)
Additionally, personal injury claims in New York City must be submitted to the Office of the Comptroller, which “is responsible for overseeing the resolution and settlement of claims filed against or on behalf of the City of New York.” (15)
Slip and Fall Settlements
Compensation in slip and fall cases often includes medical bills, costs of future medical bills, loss of income, and future loss of earnings. It typically also includes pain and suffering, or even punitive damages.
In awarding damages, New York courts consider your share of the responsibility for the accident, if any. Damages awarded to you are reduced according to any share of responsibility the court determines you had for the accident. (16)
When it comes to slip and fall accidents, there are ways to avoid injury.
Actions residential property owners should have taken to avoid accidents include ensuring: (17)
- Grab bars are installed in bathrooms, especially around showers and tubs.
- Floors are kept clean, dry, and uncluttered.
- Lighting is adequate to illuminate all areas.
- Stairs have railings.
How W&L Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg’s experienced team of personal injury attorneys are successful advocates for our clients. We have handled a large number of personal injury cases where we secured verdicts and settlements for people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.