Thousands of people are injured each year, some of them seriously, by slipping, tripping or falling on a hazardous floor, an unsafe flight of stairs, or an uneven patch of ground. Injured persons may suffer wrist, ankle and hip fractures, shoulder damage, and even brain trauma. Accidents are part of normal, everyday living, and not all property owners can be held responsible for keeping their premises free of every object or substance that may pose a potential danger. Therefore, not all property owners will be held liable for injuries caused by slips, trips and falls on their premises.
There are, however, a number of well-recognized conditions in certain property areas that routinely present possible slip and fall hazards. Landowners who know or should have known of these dangerous conditions and who fail to remedy them are at risk of being held liable for the injuries that result.
- Failure to provide adequate warnings when floors are being cleaned and are still wet or damp.
- Failing to provide adequate barriers to close off access to an area with a wet or damp floor.
- Applying a floor treatment to a part of the floor that is sloping or on an incline.
- Failure to use floor treatments containing non-skid ingredients, where appropriate.
- Using excessive amounts of wax or polish and applying layers unevenly.
- Treating part of a floor while leaving a part untreated, resulting in uneven conditions that cause a slip and fall.
- Use of carpeting that is torn, worn, or bulging.
- Use of mats or rugs with curled edges, worn spots, or holes.
- Failure to replace missing handrails.
- Allowing debris such as trash, pieces of paper, dirt, and gum to accumulate on steps.
- Failure to repair or replace worn steps or those with rounded edges.
- Improperly maintained escalators likely to catch clothing, footwear, fingers, hands or feet and cause a fall. Escalators and elevators with faulty machinery causing sudden, unexpected jerky movements that can result in trips and falls.
- Icy conditions occurring when water accumulates on the roof, and then melts, drips off, and refreezes on the ground.
- Parking lots and sidewalks with sloping, uneven surfaces where water forms puddles and then refreezes.
- Parking lots and sidewalks with unpatched holes or cracks. Parking lot owners are responsible for maintaining the property in such a manner that it is reasonably safe for people using it.
- Inadequate outdoor lighting causing pedestrians to trip on curbing, holes, cracks and other uneven surfaces.
Property owners are not responsible for every slippery, uneven or dangerous condition, even those that cause severe injury. Although landowners must take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is free of hazards, there is no hard and fast rule determining liability in these premises liability claims. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate the facts in your case to see if they might lead to a successful slip and fall claim.