Personal Injury: Slips, Trips, and Falls

November 6, 2016

According to the National Safety Council, falls are the third leading cause of unintentional death in the United States.  Almost 32,000 people died in the United States in 2014 due to a fall.  Of course, falls can also be the source of injury.  Workplace falls were responsible for 600 deaths in 2014.  Additionally, there were 47,000 people who sustained workplace injuries severe enough to require reporting to another government agency in 2013.

Common Locations Falls, Slips, and Trips Occur

Common locations for falls include the following:

  • Doorways;
  • Ramps;
  • Cluttered hallways;
  • Areas with heavy traffic;
  • Uneven surfaces;
  • Areas prone to wetness or spills;
  • Unguarded heights;
  • Unstable work surfaces;
  • Ladders; and
  • Stairs.

Ladder Safety: Common Sense Steps for Safety

Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder when in use.  This means you either have two feet and one hand on the ladder, or you have two hands and one foot on the ladder.  Because you will need both hands to climb a ladder, do not climb the ladder with tools or other items in your hand.  Use a tool belt, or put the items on the ladder’s tray ahead of climbing the ladder.  When you are climbing up or down a ladder, do so one rung at a time.  Do not skip a step – not even the last one.  When you climb the ladder, face the ladder rungs.  Do not face the side rails or attempt the climb the ladder facing away from the ladder.  When atop the ladder, do not lean or extend your body to the side.  Do not overreach while on a ladder.  Instead, climb down and reposition the ladder to move it closer to the spot you are working on.  When determining the distance between the wall and the ladder, a general rule of thumb is that for every four feet of ladder height, the ladder should be placed one foot away from the surface on which the ladder is resting.  For example, a 12 foot ladder should be placed three feet away from the wall at the base.  When using a ladder outdoors, be mindful of the weather.  Ladders should not be used during inclement weather or during periods of strong winds.

Fall Prevention Tips

Clean up spills immediately.  While awaiting cleanup, make sure someone can warn others of the hazard.  Exercise extreme caution when walking on freshly mopped floors, or stay off of them entirely.  Be mindful of – and eliminate – tripping hazards on stairs and walkways.  Where there are young children, use a safety gate at the top and bottom of the stairs.  As an adult, do not attempt to step over these same safety gates.  Use the latch to open the gate to pass through.  Stepping over a safety gate on a stairwell is a falling hazard in and of itself.  Phone and electrical cords should be secured with tape or staples to keep them from entering into trafficked areas.  Install adequate lighting both inside your home as well as the exterior of your house.  Rugs should have a non-skid backing or other method of ensuring the rug stays in place.  Furniture, whether in the workplace or at home, should be arranged to provide for open walking paths.  Handrails should be installed and used on all staircases.  Do not stand on chairs or tables that are on wheels.  Do not use items such as a skateboard as a stepping stool.

Slip and Trip Prevention Tips

Slips happen when there is not enough traction or friction between the foot (or footwear) and the walking surface.  Some common causes of slips include spills, weather hazards, wet surfaces, oily surfaces, loose rugs, and other problems with walking surfaces.

Trips happen when your foot and anther object that is not the walking surface, collide.  In a trip, this will cause you to lose your balance (and could lead to a fall).  Trips most commonly occur with poor lighting, wrinkled carpeting, uneven sidewalks, uncovered cables or wires, open drawers, and obstructed views.

To reduce your odds of slipping on wet flooring, take your time as you cross the floor.  Pay attention to the risks.  To reduce your odds of tripping, make sure you have adequate lighting, that the floors are in good condition, and that the walking areas are clear from clutter.

The Standard for Determining If You Have a Legal Claim

If you were injured in a slip and fall type accident on someone else’s property, you may have a claim.  This could be true if the owner or employee caused the slippery or dangerous surface or item you tripped on; or the owner or employee knew of the dangerous surface and did not appropriately remedy the situation; or the owner or employee should have known about the dangerous situation because another, reasonable person similarly situated would have known about the situation and would have taken proper action to rectify the situation.

“Reasonableness” is a determination that is frequently made by a jury.  Because “reasonableness” is based on all the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury, it is important to provide all details of the incident, when speaking with an attorney about your case.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Injured Due to a Slip, Trip, or Fall?

If you have been injured due to a slip, or a trip, or a fall of some kind, you may have a legal cause of action.  If you do have a cause of action, you may be entitled to compensation for such things as medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium, pain, and suffering.  If you have been injured at work and can no longer work at that job due to your injuries, you may be entitled to retraining services.

What Should I Do If a Loved One Has Died Due to a Slip, Trip, or Fall?

Death from a fall is not uncommon.  You may be entitled to compensation as outlined above, as well as funeral expenses. Contact the Lugoff, South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Connell Law Firm via the web, or call us to discuss your case.