Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accident cases are a form of premises liability claims. A slippery floor can catch anyone unaware. The Miami slip-and-fall accident lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., know falls are a major source of serious injury and even death. The National Floor Safety Institute reports falls account for 8 million hospital emergency room visits annually, resulting in more than 2 million people are treated for slip-and-fall accidents and billions of dollars in economic costs. Whether these incidents occur at in a mall, a hotel, at work, the grocery store, a hotel, on a cruise ship or at a condo or private residence, Miami slip and fall accident victims may have numerous legal remedies.

If you were injured in a slip and fall the damages that may be available starts with a careful analysis of the individual facts of the case. It’s important to point out that just because you fell and suffered an injury doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be entitled to damages. Slip-and-fall claims are often more complex than people realize. Legislative changes resulting in the introduction of Florida Statute 768.0755 established a heightened proof burden for plaintiffs in slip-and-fall claims caused by “transitory foreign substances.” Sorting through the intricacies of statutory requirements calls for an experienced slip and fall attorney. While fall related accidents can occur in a range of settings, understanding common causes can help plaintiffs take appropriate measures to establish their right to collect damages.

Negligence by Property Owners

Property owners and operators are responsible to maintain their premises in reasonably safe condition. Failure to do so could is a form of premises liability, and could be grounds for a slip-and-fall lawsuit.

When falls on the same level are caused by negligence, they are often predicated by:

  • Improper floor maintenance;
  • Poor visibility;
  • Lack of slip-resistance on walking surfaces;
  • Failure to promptly clean up spills;
  • Lack of handrails.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) asserts people are prone to fall when the coefficient of friction between one’s shoe and the walking surface is below 0.50. This standard static coefficient of friction (COF) may need to be higher for certain setting or tasks, such as walking up and down ramps, pushing or pulling objects or carrying items.

When it comes to transitory foreign substances in business establishments, plaintiffs who are injured need to show:

  • Business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition;
  • Business should have taken some action to remedy it.

Actual knowledge refers to information about that exact condition/ spill at that location and time. Constructive knowledge means evidence that the dangerous condition existed for a length of time it was discoverable in the exercise of due care or the condition occurred with regularity and therefore was foreseeable. In other words, the business knew or should have known there was a dangerous condition.

Types of Slip and Fall Accidents

The term “slip-and-fall” is used as a catch-all for a variety of accidents. When it comes to dangerous walking surfaces, there are four basic kinds of situations one can encounter:

  • Trip-and-fall. This occurs when someone comes across an unexpected object in their walking path.
  • Stump-and-fall. This happens when one of your feet is impeded by some hazard.
  • Step-and-fall. This is when a foot encounters a hole or other unexpected failure in the walking surface.
  • Slip-and-fall. This happens when contact between the person’s foot (or feet) and floor don’t support the walker’s center of gravity, causing a fall.

Slip-and-fall accidents tend to be the ones most often treated in emergency rooms because they occur with greater frequency and result in more serious injuries. Some of the most vulnerable groups include:

  • Older adults over 65, particularly those in nursing homes.
  • Young children.
  • Workers.

It’s a lucky person who can get up and quickly dust themselves off after a fall. Hopefully, they walk away with little more than a bruised ego. Unfortunately, many slip-and-fall victims suffer hip fractures, back injuries, broken arms, head injuries or worse.

Common Slip-and-Fall Causes

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports floors and flooring materials directly contribute to more than 2 million fall-related injuries every year.

When it comes to slip-and-fall accidents in Miami, some of the most common cases our injury lawyers see include:

  • Wet, slippery floors caused by water or other substances. The National Floor Safety Institute opines more than half of all slip-and-fall accidents are hazardous walking surfaces. This could be something like a recently mopped or waxed floor, a swipe of grease on the floor of a restaurant, a sopping pool deck, a sandy ramp to the hotel or a rain-slicked entrance to a grocery store.
  • Poor lighting. People are vulnerable to falls on all kinds of surfaces when they can’t see. A surface that might not be especially dangerous in broad daylight could be perilous in the dark. It’s up to the property owner to make sure walking areas are properly lit. Pool areas, walkways and sidewalks, garages and stairwells can be especially dangerous.
  • Lack of/ defective hand rails. In parking garages, shopping centers, apartment complexes and hotels, guests rely on handrails when climbing stairs. A defective handrail can cause a person to lose balance or grip and take a serious tumble.
  • Tripping hazards. These could be cords, ropes, wires, uneven/ cracked sidewalks, potholes or loose carpet.
  • Failure to follow proper safety practices on-the-job. Employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace. They sometimes fail to do so, either through inadequate training or improper maintenance of the worksite. When this leads to work injuries, employees may seek workers’ compensation. While they cannot sue their employers, third-party claims for further damages may be a possibility in some instances.

In any one of these cases, a defendant could assert the condition was open and obvious (and therefore plaintiff should have taken measures to avoid it), or else that the condition wasn’t dangerous or defendant owed no duty of care to plaintiff.

Our dedicated slip-and-fall accident attorneys serving Miami are familiar with the many defense tactics and strategies employed in these cases. We will work to ensure your rights and best interests are protected.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, please contact the Miami Injury Attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A., for a free consultation by calling 305-371-6000 or using our online contact form.

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