The dangers of slip and fall accidents are everywhere, so people need to be prepared and diligent about walking surfaces, no matter where they are. Commercial floors can be especially tricky because of the sheer number of foot traffic passing through them on a daily basis. Thousands of Americans suffer from slip and fall accidents on commercial floors, either because of existing dangers or because of inattention.
Slip and fall accidents often occur in wet and icy conditions, but man-made situations like debris and broken floors can also result in slip and fall accidents. With slip and fall accidents accounting for over 1 million hospital visits, it’s clear that the problem is much more serious than people assume. Data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates that flooring materials can contribute to over 2 million injuries from falls every year in the United States. Even more alarming, some data reveals that nearly 17,000 deaths occur as a result of these accidents.
Understanding Commercial Property Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries occur when a person falls over a hazard or slippery surface on someone’s property. This could happen because of an existing issue on the property or because of inattention when walking. To prove that the property or store owner is liable for the slip and fall accident, the victim must be able to prove property maintenance negligence. Slip and fall facts in the US are much more serious than you think and constitute a significant number of hospital visits every year.
- Nearly 2.8 older people suffer from fall injuries and are treated in an emergency department of a hospital every year.
- Nearly 800,000 people are put in hospital owing to a fall injury like a hip fracture or head injury.
- Over 95 percent of hip fractures are caused because of fall accidents.
Negligence by the property owner is one of the most common causes of slip and fall injuries, especially on commercial enterprises. Areas may not have been repaired or fixed on time, even if the issue is evident. Such instances can lead to lawsuits against a commercial business, especially if the victim can prove that the business knew about the hazard before the accident, and took no action to rectify the problem.
Is The Property Owner Legally Responsible?
In order for a store or property owner to be held legally responsible for a person or employee’s slip and fall injuries, some factors must be taken into consideration. Some of those factors are:
- Did the store owner cause a particular spill or ignore torn carpets that led to the dangerous condition for walkers on the property?
- Did the store owner know of this or any other dangerous situation and did nothing to rectify it?
- Should the store owner have known about the situation as any person maintaining and caring for the property would?
In most instances, liability is determined on the basis of a particular case and its circumstances. The law will determine whether the owner made sufficient efforts to keep the property safe and comfortable for people walking through it.
When it comes to slip and fall accidents on commercial floors, more than one person or entity can be held responsible for the victim’s injuries. For instance, if the store owner is different from the property owner, then both may be held responsible. If the store owner and property owner are the same, then the situation is slightly less complex when it comes to addressing the issue of liability to a particular party. In some instances, vendors and suppliers of the commercial enterprise may also be held responsible when it comes to slip and fall accidents.
Were Correct Measures Taken Before The Accident?
Commercial property owners must do everything possible to reduce the possibility of hazards and dangers on their premises. This checklist will help both owners and victims better understand some of the hazards associated with the floor surfaces, offering them insights into remedial measures:
Is The Flooring Appropriate For The Task?
Some floors are simply inappropriate for the tasks at hand for a business, which can result in dangerous walking conditions. For example, using soft carpets in areas where trolleys have to be pushed can make it hard to move, which will eventually lead to an accident. Similarly, glossy floors in areas where heavy boxes or cartons of items need to be carried can give rise to slip and fall accidents. Consider the type of flooring there is and whether it is suited to particular occupations for minimal risks in the business.
Does The Floor Area Get Wet Often?
Some floor surfaces get slippery and slick when wet, so consider whether a particular area is prone to rainwater or kitchen sink and bathroom sink spills. Certain areas where liquids are managed (science labs, drink factories, building sites etc) can also make the floor surface wet and slippery. If the area is prone to getting wet, a business owner should consider installing tiles with textures for better grip while people walk over them. If the floor is wet for any particular reason, wet floor signs must be installed until the floor surface can be cleaned and dried.
Are The Floors Cleaned Every Day?
Any floor spills could potentially give rise to slip and fall accidents, so there must be a way to keep them clean at all times. For example, meal areas are especially prone to drink and food spills, so proper procedures must be set for maintenance. If special machinery is used in a factory, then issues like fuel and oil spills could be a problem. Commercial property owners could potentially use drip guards where possible to avoid liquid spills on floors, or they can use exhaust systems to remove floor moisture. Specific maintenance procedures must be set in order to ensure that customers and employees are safe from potential slip and fall accidents.
Has The Floor Surface Changed?
We previously wrote about floor changes here. If the floor surface texture has suddenly changed, proper measures need to be taken to minimize the risks of slip and fall accidents. For instance, changing from a carpet to polished timber can make the surface more slippery than before. Moving from concrete to floor tiles can also change the texture of the surface. Make sure that employees and customers are well aware of these changes in order to minimize hazards. If possible, stick to non-slip flooring options in high traffic areas to reduce the number of accidents on the commercial premises.
Could Growing Objects Hamper The Walking Experience?
Outdoor areas are just as vital as inside areas, so growing objects like moss on pathways after the snow or rains can be a dangerous situation for both customers and employees. Similarly, the growth of mold in internal wet areas can cause slipperiness on floors. These areas need to be cleaned regularly and free from all types of hazards as often as possible.
Is There Adequate Lighting?
Inadequate lighting is another big problem that property or store owners face when it comes to slip and fall accidents on their premises. If possible, store or property owners should assess the lighting options in areas like entrances to staircases, on staircases and between rooms to ensure that people are well aware of these situations before a hazard actually takes place. If there are no handrails then all staircases need to be fitted with them to reduce the chance of any slip and fall accidents.
Under premises liability law, any commercial enterprise is responsible for keeping the property safe and danger free, especially flooring surfaces that could lead to potential slip and fall accidents. Taking adequate precautions and doing everything reasonably possible to minimize the risk of accidents for a commercial property will help businesses avoid premises liability claims from both employees and customers. However, if the commercial property was in violation of any of the above, then the accident victim is within their rights to file a lawsuit.