According to the National Safety Council, falls are one of the top causes of injuries in the U.S. at about 8.9 million each year. Of these, about 17,000 of them are slip and fall accidents, which are also known as premises liability accidents, and are a common cause of personal injury lawsuits. Since winter and the associated wet weather are coming, here are some things you should know about premises liability cases and how to avoid a slip and fall accident in the first place.
Slip and fall accidents commonly happen in the wintertime, when walkways are icy, slushy, or slippery if they are not well-maintained. If a person slips and falls on someone else’s property, the property owner or manager may be liable if he or she was negligent in reasonably maintaining the property. An important thing to remember here is that determining fault in a property liability case can be pretty complicated.
A property owner may be found negligent if he or she knew that the pathways on their property were dangerous and did nothing to take care of the problem. To be found at fault, the property owner must have known that there was a wet or slippery walkway but did nothing to make the pathway safe within a reasonable amount of time.
Of course, one aspect of property liability is the responsibility of the person who is walking. If a person is careless in the path they choose to take or the manner in which they choose to take it, the property owner may not be found at fault after all.
How to Walk in Wet Weather
- Wear shoes with good traction or even spikes if necessary.
- Use cleared off walkways rather than those that aren’t.
- Do not walk with your hands in your pockets, since you might need them to catch yourself if you do fall.
- Walk slowly and carefully over wet or dark patches of a walkway and assume that they are slippery.
- Walk like a penguin — lean forward slightly to keep your center of gravity over your feet.
If You Do Slip and Fall…
The first thing you should do is seek medical attention to assess and treat any injuries. If you have intentions of filing a personal injury claim, you should then document as much about the scene as you can like the time of day the incident happened, take pictures of the path, if there was sufficient lighting in the area of the slip and fall, and where the path is with respect to where the business is.
In 2013, medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and employer costs comprised about $267 billion, which makes personal injury a fairly costly experience. If you think you are due compensation after a slip and fall accident you should contact a personal injury lawyer to help you fight your case. Most of personal injury cases — 95% to 96% — are settled out of court, but if your case gets there you will need experienced representation.