Thousands of people slip and fall all over the United States ever day. Some of these people walk away with little or no injuries, while others end up severely hurt. In fact, more than a million people each year seek treatment in emergency rooms due to slip-and-fall injuries. They happen both to people who are at work and to people visiting a store or walking down the sidewalk.
Contrary to popular belief, the elderly are not the only people at risk for severe injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall. Older adults do risk broken hips and other severe injuries, but people of any age can sustain severe injuries after slipping. If it happens in a public space, like in a parking lot or a busy store, there may be premises liability involved.
What is premises liability?
At the most basic level, premises liability is the potential for injury to anyone who visits a building or publicly accessible space. The person who owns or manages that space is often legally liable for any injuries that occur on that property. In order to limit potential financial losses, property owners, tenants and business managers typically take out premises liability insurance policies.
These policies protect the holder against potential financial expenses. For the victims of a preventable slip-and-fall, premises liability insurance policies offer a first line of protection from medical bills, lost wages and other costs due to an injury.
Owner negligence often contributes to slip-and-fall incidents
Many of the most common causes for slip-and-fall injuries relate to a failure to maintain safe premises. During the winter, for example, people end up slipping and falling because of snow or ice that accumulates on sidewalks and in parking lots. Not taking enough steps to remove that snow and ice could leave a business liable for injuries that occur as a result.
Similarly, snow melt on the floors of a business can present a serious risk for falling. Driers, fans and special rugs can all help reduce that risk. Spring rain can create similar issues. Water on the floors of a business can result in someone losing balance and falling. Serious injuries, ranging from closed head injuries to broken bones, can result.
Other factors that can increase the risk for a slip-and-fall include poorly cleaned floors, too much polish or wax and leaks, drips or spills. Floors with a lot of debris and detritus could cause someone to slip and fall with serious results. Overly polished floors can also increase the potential for someone to fall and get hurt. Finally, spills of liquids, leaks from pipes, walls or ceilings, and drips from leakage or condensation can all cause someone's injury. In all of these cases, premises liability could impact the victim and the property owner.