While the locations where slip and fall accidents can happen are diverse, there are generally five major reasons for their occurrence. These causes should be reviewed so that you are more aware of these problems so you can hopefully avoid becoming an injured victim resulting in a personal injury case from premises liability.
Lack of Slip Resistant Floors
Friction between walking surfaces and shoes is necessary to prevent slipping. Slip resistance refers to the likelihood of footwear slipping on walking surfaces, especially those that are wet or have a build up of wax, dirt, or other substance between the floor and shoe soles. Property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure walking surfaces are safe for pedestrians under conditions reasonably expected according to the walking surface’s purpose and are not negligent in the care or maintenance of the surface. Installation of appropriate flooring materials may be the property owner’s duty towards people using the premises depending upon the circumstances present.
Poor Walking Surfaces
Aside from lack of slip resistance, walking surfaces can be in poor condition due to other deficiencies. Mats present a trip hazard, especially those in a deteriorated condition with loose threads and curling corners, mats with edges greater than ½ inch or without a slip resistant liner between mat bottom and floor surface. Concrete surfaces which are buckled and cracked, have uneven joins, loose pieces and holes or missing or damaged manhole and services covers pose a potential slip and fall danger. Unmarked raised doorsills can cause trips. Spills that are not marked with signage or mopped up promptly and properly create a poor walking surface, even on floors that are structurally sound. Some or all of these conditions, depending on the circumstances, may give rise to a claim of negligence.
Proper lighting is an obligation of a property owner. All areas should be well lit, including inside the building, the outside perimeter, stairways and parking areas. Lighting should be adequate for all seasons of the year, weather conditions and times of the day people are reasonably expected to use the premises. A situation involving improper lighting may also give rise to a claim sounding in negligence.
Building codes decree how stairs are to be built. The stairs must have a uniform rise (each stair is of the same height) to reduce trip hazard. The edge of the stair (known as the “nosing”) should be highly visible. Slip resistance on outside stairs may be obligatory and stair treads or abrasive strips should be used on indoor stairs. If building code violations are established then a claim of negligence could be bolstered.
Handrails must be within reach across the entirety of a stair (i.e. both sides and the middle) and optimally placed between 34 and 38 inches to reduce the possibility of a person falling over the handrail. The handrail should also be easily graspable by the average person. Handrails must be anchored in accordance with building regulations.
If you have experienced a slip and fall accident, it is recommended you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and options.