Slip and fall lawsuits are one of the most common personal injury lawsuits. For one, there are many conditions that can give rise to slip and fall accidents. Another reason is that it’s relatively easy to point a finger at the premise owner or occupant.
Irrespective of being a property owner or a visitor on another’s property, getting involved in a lawsuit is troublesome. And, of course, getting injured is something that we all certainly want to avoid.
Here are five common potential hazards that can cause slips and falls. As a property owner, make sure you don’t have trouble areas on your premises; as a visitor, be careful when you head out of your house.
According to Plant City premises liability lawyers, property owners or occupants have a duty toward guests and visitors to maintain their premises and keep them safe. As such, it is expected of premise owners to ensure that floors are mopped, waxed, and polished regularly.
However, wet floors and excessive polish can lead to slips and falls, and other serious injuries. Here are some conditions under which owners and occupants can be held liable for accidents:
- Lack of adequate warnings indicating wet floors
- Lack of barriers to close off areas with wet or damp floors
- Applying wax or polish unevenly or using too much of these substances
- Applying floor treatments to areas that have a slight incline or slope
- Failing to use floor treatments with non-skid ingredients
In addition to these conditions, owners can be held liable for accidents caused by torn, worn out, or bulging areas in carpets; debris; material like gum on floors that can stick to shoes; and rugs or mats with worn spots and edges curled up.
Stairs are prone to wear from prolonged use and can cause slips and falls if they aren’t maintained regularly. Worn out materials on the ‘run’ part of the stair – the part where your foot lands – are most dangerous. Knowing about the dangerous condition and failing to take appropriate steps to minimize risk can shift liability to the premise owner.
It should be noted that owners can also be deemed liable for accidents if they use materials like tile and highly polished wood on stair runs instead of less slippery materials like painted wood, carpet, or stone. In outdoor settings, stairs should have run surfaces that don’t become more slippery when wet, or should have anti-slip materials applied. Furthermore, stairs should be built and maintained to avoid excessive precipitation buildup.
Building code violations can also cause fatal accidents, shifting liability completely to the premises’ owner. Here are some areas regulated by building code:
- Stairs should meet minimum and maximum measurements for riser height and run depth – the vertical and horizontal parts of the stairs.
- Stairs shouldn’t exceed the maximum variance prescribed by building code.
- Handrails are a must on certain types of stairs. They should be installed firmly, should have the correct height and width, and shouldn’t end before the stairs.
Several indoor and outdoor accidents occur as a result of poor and insufficient lighting, which makes proper lighting crucial on both residential, as well as commercial, properties.
- Proper lighting on stairways and in stairwells helps people see stairs and landings clearly, and makes it easy to take note of obstacles or obstructions.
- Ample lighting is important in hallways, entrances, and all prominent parts of a property to help visitors avoid potential tripping or slipping hazards.
- Enter and exit signs should be well lit, especially fire and emergency exit ones. These should also be serviced regularly.
- Outdoor lighting is as important as indoor lighting. Immediate entrances, parking lots, sidewalks, garages, etc. should be sufficiently lit to avoid falls and accidents.
Property owners are not automatically liable for injuries occurring in and around swimming pools. Nonetheless, since a pool is a part of the property, premises liability rules do apply in injury lawsuits.
Certain risks like potential danger from diving from inappropriate places or slippery surfaces around the pool are obvious and not enough to create liability for the property owner. That being said, a property owner can be held liable for accidents if they failed to put up warning signs regarding the depth of the pool or hidden obstructions in the pool. Equipment like diving boards, ladders, and drains should be maintained regularly, and necessary warning signs should be put up.
Owners of commercial properties like clubs and hotels could be held liable for accidents if they fail to provide emergency safety equipment. Public pools like those owned by municipalities should provide adequate supervision or have lifeguards on duty.
Ice and Snow
Injuries resulting from slips and falls on ice and snow can be very serious. While property owners can be held liable for injuries resulting from accumulated ice and snow, there are no set rules to determine negligence. For example, it is not possible to decide the amount of ice and snow to determine the owner’s fault. Determining owner liability also takes into consideration the amount of time the owner had to remove ice and snow.
In general situations, property owners can be held responsible for accidents if the conditions on the property cause ice or snow to build up unnaturally. Instances such as ice accumulating on the roof; melting and refreezing on the ground; or ice melting and forming puddles, then refreezing into patches due to slope or unevenness of the ground can cause owners to be liable for accidents.
Now that you’ve read about these five potential hazards that can cause slip and fall accidents, you know just what needs to be done to avoid accidents. Make all required changes to your property and always be on your guard when you head out to stay safe!