Businesses and property owners have the legal responsibility to keep their property free from potential problems that may cause visitors and employees to slip and fall. When someone slips and falls, the property or business owner may have behaved negligently and may be responsible for the injury.
Facts About Injuries from a Fall
Though it may not seem like a big deal, slips and falls are a major reason for millions of emergency room visits each year. Consider these statistics from the Center for Disease Control:
- An estimated 20% of falls result in serious injury, which includes broken bones, lacerations or concussions.
- Over 800,000 people are hospitalized each year in the United States due to a fall.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- The cost of falling is high; in 2015 the cost of falls totaled an estimated $50 billion.
Slips and falls are also a major contributor to injuries in the workplace. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that almost 800 people died in 2018 as a result of slips and falls. An additional 240,160 slip and fall cases resulted in an employee being seriously injured at work. It is estimated that 85 percent of workers’ compensation claims are filed each year due to a slip and fall injury.
But what makes slip and fall injuries so common?
Slip and Fall Injuries at Work
Here is a perfect scenario. A busy restaurant waitress is finishing up for the night after closing. She is carrying a tray of dishes in the back of the restaurant to be washed. In the back, the staff is hurrying and trying to get home and accidentally spill a container of soup onto the floor. The restaurant doesn’t require that their employees wear slip-proof shoes or have anti-slip mats on the floor.
While walking into the back with her arms full, she doesn’t see the soup spilled on to the greasy floor. She slips, falling hard onto the ground and cuts her forehead on a corner of the wall. An ambulance is called, and the waitress is taken to the emergency room where she receives 11 stitches in her forehead and treatment for a sprained wrist and brain concussion. She has to take several weeks off of work while her wrist and forehead heal.
The waitress is worried about paying her bills because of her lost wages and doesn’t know what to do about the thousands of dollars in medical bills that keep coming in the mail. Her employer hasn’t offered to pay anything, because they claim she was distracted. She knows that her employer should be helping but isn’t sure what the next steps should be.
Premises Liability – Who is Responsible When Injured?
Business and property owners are often responsible for slips and falls that occur under premises liability. Premises liability means that an owner is responsible for keeping the premises free from dangers and hazardous conditions. In order for a property or business owner to be liable for personal injuries that occur in Arizona, the following usually must apply:
- The property owner must know of the dangerous condition and fail to warn employees or invitees.
- An employee or occupier created a hazardous situation.
- The dangerous condition must have existed for a period of time long enough that the employee or property owner should have discovered it.
As in most cases of personal injury, negligence must be a factor. If negligence is a factor, the victim may have a case and be able to file a civil claim for medical and compensatory damages.
Proving Negligence For Your Injuries
Negligence is the failure of a property owner or business owner to exercise reasonable and proper care in a given situation. There are several different types of negligence. These different types (nonfeasance, misfeasance and malfeasance) may help determine what type of negligence occurred. Because it can be difficult to determine if negligence played a factor, many lawyers apply the banana peel test.
The Banana Peel Scenario
One of the first things taught in law school is an adage known as the banana peel scenario. In this situation, a customer walks into a store and slips on a banana peel that was left on the ground. The slip and fall results in hundreds of dollars in medical bills. The injured person isn’t sure if the store should be responsible for paying for their injuries.
The actual color of the banana peel determines if negligence was a factor. A bright yellow banana indicates that the banana was left on the ground only a short period of time. The store owner would not have had enough time to be alerted to the situation in order to correct it. If the banana peel is brown, however, it’s apparent that the store owner had enough time to correct the situation and behaved in a careless, negligent manner.
In this case, if the banana peel was brown, the customer would be able to file a slip and fall tort. According to the United States tort law, a slip and fall tort is a claim or case dealing with a person slipping, tripping or falling.
Back to the Waitress
Returning to the waitress scenario, it’s important to first determine if the business owner behaved negligently. Because non-slip shoes were not required and non-slip mats were not utilized in a place that was likely to become wet, the business owner did not take reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring and behaved negligently.
The waitress should take several steps after becoming injured. Getting medical help, contacting a personal injury lawyer and keeping records are all critical. Following these steps can help when filing a claim.
Seeking Medical Help is Crucial, Here’s Why
After becoming injured in a workplace or on a property the first thing to do is receive medical help. This gets you the necessary treatment so you can recover. It also creates a trail of physical evidence that documents the injury and treatments.
Many people who don’t have health insurance are hesitant to seek medical assistance. If you don’t have insurance, it’s important to still seek medical help and follow the recommended treatments. You will be able to pay for these costs and lost wages by filing a civil claim with a personal injury lawyer.
Contacting a Slip and Fall Attorney
Personal injury attorneys are the best option when it comes to slip and fall injuries. A property or business owner often tries to claim that the victim is actually at fault for the injury. An experienced slip and fall attorney can litigate the claim in court.
After receiving medical help, the next step is to contact an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney. Do some research and make sure that the attorney is well-versed and experienced in slip and fall injuries.
The lawyer will ask you to keep a careful record of what happened. Write down every detail you can remember, write down the names and contact information for every witness present and keep every medical bill and document. Take pictures if you are able. All of this will be used by the attorney to help you collect damages.
Potential Damages as a Result of a Slip and Fall
Damages are a monetary reward to pay for the medical bills and lost wages that incurred due to your injury. Injuries often result in thousands of dollars in medical bills. Rehabilitation may take months for your injury to properly heal. Medical and compensatory damages can you help take care of yourself and your family after a slip and fall injury.
A lawyer can help you collect damages after filing a civil claim against the business or property owner. The case may be settled out of court with the property or business owner paying an agreed-upon amount to the injured party. If it goes to court, a lawyer will litigate the case and present evidence of negligence. The judge will then award damages to the injured party.
Let Hutzler Law Injury Attorneys Help You
If you or a loved one have been injured at work, in an apartment you rent or at a place of business, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Our professional staff has years of experience in getting our clients the help they deserve. Contact Us today by calling (602) 345-1981 or filling out our online contact form.