An estimated 17,000 slip and fall accidents occur each year in the United States, many of which occur in the winter months due to increased snow and ice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 20% and 30% of slip and fall victims sustain serious injuries like bone fractures, head traumas, and lacerations. Compensatory damages in premises liability personal injury lawsuits can get pretty pricey; according to the CDC, medical costs that resulted from falls were over $30 billion dollars in 2012. A business can avoid personal injury litigation as a result of a slip and fall by simply practicing good housekeeping.
Have a Plan
Making sure that the interior and exterior of a business are safe and clear of dangerous wet areas simply comes down to good housekeeping. A good way to do this is to coordinate with the maintenance and janitorial staffs of the business and set a schedule. It’s good practice to check problem areas at regular periods to ensure that the area is still safe and clear. If necessary, assigning designated areas to the appropriate staff member is a good way to make sure all bases are covered.
The interior of a business should always be well-maintained and checked for dangerous spills, but employees and customers will both track in snow. Obviously, snow will melt and create a slippery spot, especially near entrances and areas that experience a high volume of foot traffic. Placing long carpets along these areas will help soak up some of the water and create a non-slippery surface to walk on. Large fans placed by entrances are also useful for drying up wet spots (and those soaked carpets). It’s also worth having the janitorial staff mopping up the area periodically.
Most slip and fall accidents happen outdoors, so business owners should always make sure that the maintenance staff is taking care of it. Parking lots are especially dangerous since ice is harder to see. Areas near entrances should be shoveled as needed and sprinkled with rick salt to melt any ice and to create more traction for people to walk on. The premises should also be well lit so that people can see where they’re walking.
Personal injury liability in slip and fall accidents can get tricky, but plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits typically need to prove that the slip and fall happened on the premises, that the business owner had sufficient time to know about and take care of the dangerous area, and that the injury was a result of the business owner’s negligence.