Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere and at any time, making them incredibly unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Statistics reveal that 8 million emergency room visits occur every year because of fall accidents, making them the leading cause of visits. Slip and fall accidents constitute 12 percent of the total number of fall accidents in the United States.
NPD’s Fall 2012 ReCount data reveals that nearly 616,008 restaurants now operate across the United States as of 2012, which is a 0.7 percent increase from the previous year. People go to restaurants to savor delicious food, but not all of them end up being good experiences all around. Accidents can occur where customers get injured while dining out. Restaurants are notorious for causing slip and fall accidents because of a myriad of factors. Restaurant owners, in particular, must be cognizant of the risks involved because all kinds of situations can lead to an accident on their premises.
What Triggers Slip And Fall Accidents While Dining?
People love to eat out and if you’re a resident of Philadelphia or simply visiting, you have limitless dining options at your disposal. But some of these food businesses can put both diners and employees at risk of accidents with situations that could have been avoided by taking the correct precautions. So what are the factors that trigger slip and fall accidents while dining out at a restaurant?
7 Restaurant Slip And Fall Hazards
Food And Drinks Spill On The Floor… And No One Has Cleaned Up
When food and drinks inevitably spill on the floor, the restaurant is responsible for getting it cleaned up immediately, so that untoward slip and fall accidents don’t take place. Failure to clean up these spills will naturally increase the risk of an accident.
Common areas for spills include entrance ways, buffet tables, dishwasher areas, table areas and kitchens. The law can be ambiguous when it comes to food and drink spills because it requires proof that the spill was on the floor for a reasonable amount of time before the slip and fall accident occurred.
Switches In Floor Height
Some restaurants are uneven in floor height, especially when moving from one zone to another. For instance, if a bar is located in another area of the restaurant, diners may find a slight variation in height, which can inevitably lead to a slip, trip, and fall accident when someone isn’t looking. Similarly, when a diner moves between the main restaurant areas to the restroom, any floor height variations without warning can lead to slip, trip, and fall accidents.
Apart from variation in floor height, certain flooring troubles can also lead to slip and fall accidents. For instance, if a carpet is torn or a tile is cracked, then unsuspecting employees or customers can end up falling over it. Dirty or grimy floors can prove to be slippery and will trigger preventable slip and fall accidents. Restaurant owners are duty bound to fix these issues in advance, so that no untoward incidents occur on their premises, or they may be held liable for negligence.
Tables Set Too Close Together
When restaurant tables are set too close together, a person backing out of his or her chair can cause another person to slip and fall from behind. This can cause a significant amount of harm to the injured person, so restaurant owners must exercise reasonable distance between all tables to ensure that unprecedented accidents don’t occur. Tables set too close together also make it difficult to notice food and drink spills, which can also lead to slip and fall accidents.
Insufficient Lighting In Some Areas Of The Restaurant
Restaurants should ideally be well lit to facilitate seamless movement from one part to another. But poor lighting inside and outside can prevent customers from seeing hazards on the ground, which will ultimately lead to a slip and fall injury. Similarly, insufficient lighting in restaurant parking lots and staircases can also trigger these types of accidents.
Fractures And Potholes In Pavements And Parking Lots
Any fractures or potholes in pavements and parking lots around restaurants can also result in serious slip and fall accidents. This means that restaurant owners must pay attention to these areas too in their quest to ensure that diners are safe at all times. Parking lots and pavements can also become especially slippery in the winter time when ice forms around them. Sufficient measures should be taken to ensure that they remain safe during risky periods.
Staircases that don’t have proper railings or are cracked also pose a significant slip and fall danger to employees and patrons, especially at night when it is darker and visibility is poor. Moreover, factors like ice formation in winter can make them extra slippery. Unsteady staircases can also lead to slipping and falling.
Injuries Sustained From Slip And Fall Accidents
A person suffering from a slip and fall injury while dining out can sustain a myriad of serious injuries. Some of these injuries are listed below:
- Traumatic brain damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Long-term back injuries
- Fractured pelvic region
- Death (in some cases)
Some of these injuries may be just short term, while others may cause lifelong damage, requiring constant medical attention. Victims may not be able to go back to work, or may not necessarily be able to perform their jobs as they did before and will likely seek compensation to cover all these circumstances. In the worst possible scenario, a victim could lose his or her life because of a bump to the head or any other injury resulting in treatment complications. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that nearly 31,959 deaths have occurred as a result of unintentional falls -at a rate of 10 deaths for every 100,000 people.
Is The Restaurant Owner Liable For A Slip And Fall Injury?
A restaurant owner may be held legally responsible for any slip and fall injuries in the following cases:
- The restaurant owner (or employees) must have caused the spill or triggered dangerous surfaces for customers to walk on.
- The restaurant owner or management must have been aware of the dangerous situation and attempted to do nothing to rectify it.
- The restaurant owner should have known about the dangers of a particular flooring surface because some employee would have already discovered it over time.
These situations may not be as easy to prove in court because they are dependent on subjective evidence, but liability is typically decided using practical sense. The law will eventually determine whether the restaurant owner can be held responsible for the sequence of events leading to the slip and fall accident in the restaurant. In the case of restaurants, a number of people can be held responsible for a slip and fall injury. The slip and fall accident victim will likely be entitled to compensation for his or her medical bills, ongoing suffering and lost wages from the restaurant owner based on the individual situation.
Most restaurants have premises liability insurance to protect themselves from these situations, which helps to bolster them against any negligence claims. They are typically subject to state and federal regulations when it comes to property maintenance. Knowing about restaurant liability will help you prove your claim, but you must have sufficient evidence in the form of pictures, witness statements and more to back it up.
Slips, trips, and falls in any situation can lead to serious consequences such as the injuries mentioned above and even death. This is why it is important for restaurant owners to exercise caution and take adequate steps to prevent these situations from arising in the first place.