Gone are the days when old black-and-white movie and TV comedies almost invariably included at least one scene in which the hero took a nosedive while onlookers laughed or chuckled in glee. Thankfully, slips, trips and falls are no longer considered sources of humor. That’s probably because far too many people slip, trip or fall each year. Many of them injure themselves so seriously that they never fully recover.
The slip-and-fall statistics provided by such federal organizations as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Safety Council (NSC), and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) are sobering indeed. Consider the following:
Americans slip, trip and fall with startling frequency. Nationwide statistics reveal the following:
- More than 9 million of us go to emergency rooms each year because of injuries suffered in a fall.
- Approximately 800,000 of us then must be admitted to the hospital to receive additional in-patient treatment.
- Falls account for at least 33% of all non-fatal injuries in the U.S.
- They are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- They are the cause of over 95% of all hip fractures.
- The number of people who file slip-and-fall lawsuits each year is exceeded only by the number who file auto accident lawsuits.
On-the-Job Slips, Trips and Falls
The workplace is fraught with slip-and-fall accidents. In fact, workers report injuries from these kinds of accidents far more often than from any other cause. Additional statistics include the following:
- Construction workers face the highest risk of falling while at work.
- Upwards of 60% of nonfatal on-the-job slip-and-fall accidents take place in a wholesale, retail or services setting.
- While the number of days of work a worker misses after a fall averages 11, 25% of workers so injured must miss 31 days or more of work.
Nonfatal Injuries Caused by Slips, Trips and Falls
The most common injuries you can sustain in a slip, trip or fall accident include the following:
- Soft tissue injuries, such as strains, sprains, and tears in your muscles, tendons or ligaments
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Broken bones, especially in your arms, wrists, hips, legs and feet
- Injuries to your head, neck and shoulders
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Fatal Injuries Resulting From Slips, Trips and Falls
Unfortunately, serious slip, trip and fall injuries can result in death. Statistics disclose the following:
- Slips, trips and falls account for 15% of annual U.S. deaths, killing upwards of 30,000 people.
- An older adult, i.e., someone age 65 or above, dies every 19 minutes due to injuries he or she sustained in a fall.
- Experts predict that, by 2030, slips, trips and falls will account for 59,000 older adult deaths annually.
Locations Where Slip-and-Fall Accidents Occur
In addition to your own home, slips, trips and falls occur most often in the following places:
- Retail stores, particularly grocery stores
- Parking garages and lots
- Residential property, such as the homes of friends or colleagues, apartment complexes, condominiums, etc.
- Hospitals and nursing homes
- Parks, including amusement parks
Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
As you might expect, an extraordinary number of things can cause you to slip, trip or fall. Some of the most common causes include the following:
- Ice or snow on sidewalks, steps and parking lot surfaces
- Cracks or uneven surfaces in sidewalks
- Water or other liquid spills on floors
- Torn or loose carpeting
- Loose or broken handrails in stairwells
- Loose or broken grab bars in bathrooms
- Poor lighting in stairwells and hallways
- Shrubs or other vegetation that encroaches on sidewalks and obstructs your vision
As a general rule, a property owner, or sometimes his or her manager or employee, has the duty of maintaining the property in a reasonably safe and hazard-free manner. If he or she fails in this duty and a slip-and-fall accident ensues, you have the right to sue him or her to cover the expenses and other losses you incur due to the injuries you sustain in the accident.
The precise person you can sue, however, depends on the type of property on which your accident occurred.
In an owner-occupied situation, such as a private freestanding home, the owner bears responsibility for its reasonable upkeep. In a landlord-tenant situation, however, the landlord, property manager, or one of the landlord’s other employees, may bear the ultimate responsibility for repairs and upkeep. In any event, you will need to be able to show the following:
- That the owner, landlord, property manager or employee controlled the hazardous condition that caused you to slip and fall
- That he or she would not have found it unreasonably difficult or expensive to remove or repair the condition
- That it was foreseeable to any reasonable person that someone would slip and fall, possibly receiving serious injuries, if the condition were not repaired
- That the responsible person’s failure to take reasonable steps to repair the condition and thereby avoid an accident, did, in fact, cause your accident and injuries
If your accident occurs on commercial or business property, the property owner or possessor of the premises is the responsible party. Consequently, you will need to show at least one of the following:
- That he or she knew, or should have known, that the hazardous condition existed
- That he or she caused the hazardous condition
- That he or she failed to remove or adequately repair or warn of the hazardous condition
If you slip and fall on property owned, occupied or maintained by a local, state or federal government entity, special rules may apply and usually vary from state to state. For instance, many jurisdictions have sovereign immunity laws that make it impossible for you to sue certain governmental entities for certain things. Other jurisdictions impose strict rules regarding such things as the notice you must give the entity prior to filing your lawsuit.
This is one of those areas where having the assistance of an experienced local slip-and-fall lawyer can serve you well.
Another complicating factor with regard to slip-and-fall lawsuits is that many states follow some version of what’s known as comparative negligence. In these states, the amount in damages you can recover for your injuries may depend on whether your own negligence contributed to your accident, and if so, by how much.
Questions likely to come into play in these situations include the following:
- Were you legitimately on the owner’s property at the time of your accident or were you trespassing?
- Did your own inattention, carelessness or clumsiness contribute to your accident?
- Would a reasonable person in the same situation as you have noticed and avoided the hazard over which you slipped, tripped or fell?
- Did the owner warn of the hazard or erect a barrier around it, but you ignored the warning and proceeded anyhow?
Obtaining Legal Help
If you sustain serious injuries in a New York or New Jersey slip-and-fall accident, come to Judd Shaw Injury Law™. As our name implies, we are a premier personal injury law firm. Our lawyers are deeply experienced in injury law and handle all types of personal injury cases, including those caused by slips and falls.
If you or someone you love was hurt on a property or in a business, call 1-866-909-6894 or contact our New Jersey and New York injury lawyers anytime, day or night. We want to help.