While slip and fall accidents can happen at any time of year, there seem to be certain times when they are more likely to happen for a variety of reasons. Areas that have particular rainy seasons see increases in slip and fall accidents during that season, for reasons that are easy to imagine. By and large, winter is the time of year that the most slip and fall incidents occur. Ice, snow, sleet, and rain all cause hazardous conditions for people attempting to walk around in public and private spaces. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 16,000 people die annually from slips, trips, and falls. In addition, slip, trip and fall injuries make up approximately 15% of all job-related injuries, and overall, more than 540,000 slip and fall injuries requiring hospital care occur in North America every year. Any south Florida personal injury attorney has a number of stories involving experiences with slip and fall accidents, even though the state is not known for wintry conditions.
While legal concepts such as premises liability protect individuals who are injured due to the negligence of a property owner, it is always better for both parties to avoid such incidents in the first place. Property owners can take steps to make sure that there are no dangerous conditions that could cause a visitor to slip and injure themselves, and there are precautions that visitors to a property can take to avoid the pain and stress of a serious injury. It is worth noting that if a slip and fall accident occurs, liability must be established; so it is not likely in cases where there is no way for the property owner to know that a dangerous condition existed they would be held as responsible. In addition, a property owner’s liability for an accident does not extend to injuries caused by dangerous conditions created by the injured individual—for example, spilling liquid on the floor and then immediately slipping and falling because of it.
In winter, property owners should take care to look around the exterior of their properties, making sure to salt or sand any patches of ice—particularly ones in areas that are less visible due to changes in light that occur naturally during the day or due to a lack of outdoor lighting. Property owners should also ensure that there are regularly scheduled cleaning tasks inside, such as mopping up tracked-in water from other visitors, and mats available at the entrance for guests to remove the water from their shoes. If there are unsafe conditions, it is a good idea to post notification that the floor may be slippery, or that a particular area is barred to guests as being unsafe. These precautions can do a great deal to mitigate the liability that property owners bear in a slip and fall accident.
For those visiting a business or home, it is an excellent idea to keep your eyes open to any patches of ice that are in a pathway. If there are areas outside of a building that are not well-lit, try and avoid them wherever possible, because there is an increased chance of dangerous conditions being present—even if it is merely that you are unable to see the ground under your feet. Make sure that you use any mats that are made available to you at the entrances of buildings, so that you’re not potentially causing a dangerous condition for yourself or others. While some see slip and falls as comedy material, as any Boca Raton personal injury attorney can explain, the resulting injuries can be serious indeed, including spinal injuries, head injuries, and even death.