Many claims are filed for slips and/or falls, which are a constant occurrence everywhere, year-round. Such a high probability of injury requires property owners to constantly watch for dangerous conditions already in existence or arising from inclement weather or seasonal conditions which could cause falls and other accidents. Several examples of this type of case appear below:
- Wet floors: in commercial establishments, it’s customary to use yellow cones to indicate areas where the floor is wet, whether because it has rained or the floor has been cleaned. Property owners and their representatives expect this precaution to help avoid accidents. If you are walking in a hurry, perhaps talking on the phone, you may not see the Wet Floor cones and fall. In this situation, it’s likely that you will be found at least 50% responsible for negligence and will not have a right to compensation.
- Stairs in poor condition: a variety of factors can make stairs and ladders a dangerous place. For example, one rung or stair may have an irregularity, there may be an irregular distance between stairs, the stair may not have a railing, or it may be blocked by potted plants or other obstacles. Any of these dangerous conditions should be remedied as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, the claimant’s familiarity with the stairs (or lack thereof) may also be taken into consideration.
- Ice on the sidewalk: consider a situation following a snowstorm: after a while, the snow melts and turns to ice. The owner or other responsible party has to clear a reasonably wide path so that pedestrians can pass. He or she should scatter enough salt on the ground so that ice cannot build up. It will not matter whether the landlord is on vacation or even in another country. He or she is still responsible for securing someone to take care of his property when absent. When an accident does take place, the property owner or responsible party should take note of the claimant’s clothing and footwear, the time of the incident, and whether he or she was carrying something that blocked the view of the path.
- Uneven pavement or sidewalk: when sections of a sidewalk are broken or tree roots raise a portion of the sidewalk, the path becomes quite irregular. It is expensive to have a tree and its roots removed, but there are other solutions as well, such as laying concrete to create a gradual slope or creating a wavy pattern on the surface to help create traction so pedestrians will not trip and fall. It is essential to determine how long the sidewalk has been in this condition and who is responsible. Other factors include the lighting and whether the pedestrian was running, walking, or looking at a cell phone. Each case is unique. Often, both parties are found negligent.
- Torn carpet: many offices or commercial properties have carpets, which eventually wear out, tear, or ripple. This situation can be dangerous because it is easy to trip when a foot is caught in a gap in the carpet. The employer is responsible for notifying the property owner to have the situation corrected within a reasonable time. Meanwhile, the area that is damaged must be clearly marked to prevent falls. Note that in situations when the property owner is unaware of the problem and does not have access to the premises, he or she will probably not be held responsible for any damaged floor coverings.