About Trip and Fall Accidents
Slip, trip and fall accidents are the second-most common cause of personal injuries in the United States, second only to motor vehicle accidents. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), they also constitute the majority of general industry accidents, causing 15% of all accidental work-related deaths. What is a “trip and fall” accident? This occurs when a person’s foot unexpectedly comes into contact with something in his or her path or suddenly drops to a lower level, causing a loss of balance and possibly a fall to the ground. A person who trips will generally fall forward.
Tripping and falling forward may place a person at risk of sustaining serious injuries. This may include sprained or broken wrists in trying to break the fall, facial injuries if the face comes into contact with the ground, head trauma, lacerations, contusions and dental injuries. If the victim trips while on stairs, an escalator or any type of elevated surface, the risk of injury is far greater. A serious fall can even lead to the death of the victim.
Factors Contributing to Trips and Falls
There are a variety of situations that may lead to a trip and/or a fall. Some are caused by nature, such as ice, rainwater or snow. Others are manmade, such as an electrical cord that is not properly taped down or an uneven floor tile that protrudes upward from the ground. Following are some of the most common causes of trips and falls:
- Objects in walkways;
- Uneven walkways;
- Poor lighting;
- Loose carpeting;
- Uneven floor tiles;
- Electrical cords;
- Missing or defective stairs; and
- Unmarked stairs or changes in walkways.
Property occupants, managers or owners have the responsibility to take reasonable measures to make sure that property grounds are safe for visitors. This may include routine inspections and maintenance as well as placing warning signs of potentially hazardous conditions. If a property occupant, owner or manager is negligent in upholding this obligation and someone is injured as a result, this may mean that the victim will be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the at-fault party. This type of injury lawsuit may entitle the victim to financial compensation for medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, lost earnings, future loss of earnings, pain and suffering.
How to Prevent a Serious Accident
Both property owners and visitors alike can take steps to avoid tripping and falling. Property owners should make sure that walkways and stairs are well-maintained and lit properly. They should inspect these areas and perform repairs as necessary, placing warning signs in plain view if repairs cannot be made immediately. As a visitor to another’s property, you can take the following precautions:
- If an area is not lit well, use caution.
- Watch for bumps, potholes or other changes in the surface you are walking on.
- Always use the handrail when taking the stairs.
- Use extra caution if you are wearing high-heeled shoes.
- If you are carrying boxes or other objects, make sure you can still see where you are going.
- Remember, speed is not as important as safety. Watch where you are walking at all times.
- If you notice a hazard, report it to the property owner/manager.
Determining whether a trip and fall accident is the fault of the property owner or manager can be difficult. That is why, if you have been injured in such an accident, we recommend that you take pictures of the scene. It is important to get documented evidence of what the scene looked like at the time that you tripped. If possible, take pictures – even with your phone if it has a built-in camera. There is the chance that the scene may change or that the property owner may repair the damage, making it difficult to prove their fault. In addition to gathering evidence and seeking medical attention, we recommend that you contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.