Falls are one of the top three leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States and accounted for 33% of non-fatal injuries in 2020. Property owners are responsible for ensuring you are safe and preventing slip-and-fall accidents when you enter their property. Negligent property owners can be held accountable for failing to uphold this duty of care through a slip-and-fall accident claim.
A range of factors can cause you to slip-and-fall on someone’s property. From icy walkways to spills, you may be at risk of a slip-and-fall injury in retail establishments, along city sidewalks, or when visiting an apartment complex.
Explore the common causes of slip-and-fall accidents and how a slip-and-fall injury attorney from Nessler & Associates can guide you in filing a slip-and-fall claim.
What is a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
A slip-and-fall accident happens when you slip-and-fall on a slick surface on someone else’s property and sustain injuries. Most often, slip-and-fall accidents occur on commercial properties such as:
- Shops and retail outlets
- Grocery stores
- Restaurants and bars
- Gyms and physical training facilities
- Sidewalks, parking lots, stairways, and building entrances
It can also happen on private properties such as:
- Private homes
- Private swimming pools, yards, and pathways
- Real estate or land owned by individuals
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), slip-and-fall accidents can result in life-altering injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones, and bruising. Medical costs associated with fatal and nonfatal falls were estimated at $50 billion in 2015.
Who is Responsible for a Slip-and-Fall Accident?
According to Illinois premises liability law, property owners must regularly inspect their property for potential hazards, repair defects, and clean up after spills. They must also warn visitors of known dangers or hazards they should have reasonably been aware of.
Unlike other states, Illinois does not differentiate between licensees and invitees in premises liability lawsuits. Instead, the law mandates that those who are lawfully on another person’s property are called entrants. It is the legal right of entrants to expect the owner to take reasonable care to keep the property safe and free of hazards.
If you suffer a slip-and-fall due to a property owner’s negligence, such as not cleaning up a spill or displaying a warning, you may be able to work with a slip-and-fall attorney to file a compensation claim.
Trespassers in Illinois are not afforded the same legal rights; however, Illinois’ premises liability law states that a property owner must avoid willful and wanton conduct that would hurt a known trespasser.
Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Slip-and-fall accidents have many causes, typically brought on by a property owner’s lack of attention to conditions on their premises. Often, slip-and-falls are due to transitory conditions that an owner fails to warn visitors of, but they can also be due to structural issues or poor maintenance.
There are many hazards on a piece of property that can cause slips and falls, including:
- Wet floors. Floors can become wet for various reasons, including spills, leaks, rain, snow, and even cleaning. Puddles of liquid or a layer of wetness can cause you to lose footing and fall backward, hitting your head or spine on the ground.
- Uneven or damaged floors. Large cracks in the flooring, potholes in parking lots, and loose boards can pose a safety hazard. Wet and uneven floors can cause liquids to pool or run into high-traffic areas, posing a danger to visitors.
- Flooring made of inappropriate material. In certain situations, flooring type can be a slip-and-fall hazard. For instance, a restaurant or warehouse with worn linoleum flooring instead of textured concrete may pose an undue risk to workers unless advised to wear proper footwear.
A building’s conditions can increase the risk of injury to visitors. Among these conditions are:
- Poor lighting: A building with poorly lit parking lots or dark rooms can make it difficult for visitors to navigate safely. They may not see any obstructions, debris, or icy conditions that can cause them to fall.
- Structural damage to handrails and banisters: Visitors may rely on a railing to steady their balance as they walk up stairways. They will likely sustain injuries when they put their body weight against a broken railing.
Weather conditions such as ice, snow, and rain can factor in slip-and-fall accidents. However, you must prove that the property owner caused an unnatural condition or aggravated a natural accumulation for you to file a slip-and-fall claim.
For example, a property owner may have shoveled large piles of snow that melted during the day. As a result, the runoff turned into ice, creating a dangerous condition that led to your accident.
You can work with a personal injury attorney from Nessler & Associates to understand your legal rights in a slip-and-fall accident. We can navigate the unique legal issues in slip-and-fall cases involving hazardous areas and snowy conditions.
Trip-and-Fall Versus Slip-and-Fall
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), trip-and-fall accidents are another common cause of fall injuries in premises liability cases. Similar to slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls occur when someone trips over hazards and falls forward on their face, hands, or knees.
Trip-and-falls often happen where there are broken or uneven steps and clutter. Other causes include:
- Unsecure cords and wires: Walking in areas where cables and wires are loose or unfastened can cause a person to trip over these hazardous items.
- Cluttered debris: Debris can include anything from leaves and branches to construction materials. If property owners don’t clean them up, they can be in the way of guests and pedestrians, posing a tripping hazard.
- Loose carpets and rugs: Loose flooring can be a tripping hazard if not secured to the floor. Property owners must ensure that all carpets and rugs are safe and secure on their property.
A Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Nessler & Associates as soon as possible. One of our experienced attorneys can work with you on your slip-and-fall claim. We can preserve evidence from the accident and start the legal process of bringing a lawsuit against the property owner.
Your attorney can help you recover compensation if you suffer injuries like fractures and brain injuries. These include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They can negotiate with the property owner’s insurance company and work diligently to protect your rights.