Slip and fall injuries are some of the most common types of injuries we see, especially in the winter months. According to the National Safety Council, about 9.2 million people were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries in 2016. These types of accidents are particularly dangerous for the elderly, as falls are the #1 cause of death for older adults. Although slip and fall injuries sometimes “just happen,” in many other cases, the slip and fall was the result of someone else’s negligence. When that happens, you may be able to recover for your injuries through a personal injury action.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can occur virtually anywhere and at any time, but some of the most common causes of them are:
- Surface conditions: Indoor surfaces that are slippery due to spills or being freshly mopped and outdoor surfaces that are icy (such as parking lots and sidewalks) pose the greatest risk of slip and fall accidents. Uneven surfaces (such those caused by loose floorboards or potholes in parking lots) can also pose hazards.
- Environmental conditions: Any environmental condition that causes a surface or pathway to be blocked can increase the chances of a slip and fall accident. This includes trash and debris on the floor, poor lighting, unsecured cords that cross walkways, and transitions from one type of flooring to another (such as from carpet to tile).
- Occupational conditions: Certain workers are at greater risk of suffering injuries from slip and fall accidents due to occupational hazards inherent in their line of work, including construction workers, cleaning and custodial staff, food service industry workers, and house painters.
Landowner Liability for Slips and Falls
All individuals having control over real property (including landowners and lessees) owe a general duty to keep visitors safe from injury due to unreasonable danger. If you slip and fall while you are a guest on someone else’s property, Maryland courts require that you prove three elements to prevail in a personal injury suit:
- The owner or occupant knew or should have known of the existence of the dangerous condition,
- The owner or occupant knew that a visitor would not be able to discover the danger, and
- The owner or occupant failed to make the condition safe or to warn the visitor of its existence
Of these three elements, the reasonableness of the landowner’s efforts to make the premises safe can often be the most complex. For example, assume that you are in a store and slip and fall on an ice cream cone that a toddler had dropped just two minutes earlier. Would it be reasonable to expect that an employee should have cleaned up the ice cream before you slipped? Probably not, since the employee barely had a chance to correct the condition before your accident. However, assume instead that you slip and fall in a pool of water that had been standing there for half an hour due to a leak in the roof that caused water to pool every time it rained. In that case, the employee’s failure to correct the dangerous condition likely is unreasonable, since he or she (a) knew that the roof leaked when it rained, and (b) had ample time to mop it up before your accident.
Contact a Waldorf Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to recover for your injuries. For more information about slip and fall accidents, including what you must prove in order to prevail in a suit against a landowner, contact a Waldorf injury lawyer at the Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles by calling 301-705-5006. We have office locations in Leonardtown and Laurel for your convenience.