6 Environmental Factors That Can Contribute To or Cause Slip and Fall Accidents
A slip and fall injury occurs when someone slips and falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on someone else's property. Liability can depend on whether or not the owner of the property knew or should have known a hazardous condition existed and whether or not they did anything to correct it. Dangerous or hazardous conditions that contribute to or cause slip and fall accidents can be environmental in nature. Many slip and falls could actually be avoided by better planning and design of environmental factors such as:
- Weather - Although weather is something that is out of a person’s control, there are things that can be done in response to the weather that can help minimize its potential to cause injury such as placing something on the floor to minimize slipperiness; keeping foyers and entry ways dry; and in cold climates, clearing away snow and salting and sanding of ice.
- Lighting – Inadequate ambient lighting or even too much light which creates a glare, may pose a greater risk than inadequate lighting to someone to who is visually impaired.
- Visual and Spatial Distractions – This includes inappropriate floor and step covering patterns and designs; unsafe designs; designs which have the effect of camouflage by concealing, confusing and distorting the appearance of shapes and locations in changes in elevation such as steps and platforms while also making it visually difficult to identify whether or not there are obstacles and objects in the walkway; the absence of visual cues; and rich views which are combined with changes in views.
- Physical Obstacles – Poorly located electrical cords; poorly placed and poorly shaped doors; door stops; and poor furniture placement.
- Design Standards which includes the design of floor materials and their resistance to slip; tread, riser, landing and stair and ramp dimensions; stair lengths; territorial space dimensions; and banisters, balustrades, handrails and guardrails.
- Pedestrian Traffic which includes changes in passageway pedestrian capacities, flow rates and route selections that occur due to factors that alter flow rates and choice.
An experienced slip and fall attorney will know to evaluate these elements when reviewing your case to determine if liability exists and the likelihood of successfully prosecuting your case. Besides evaluating these items your attorney will evaluate if the conditions are:
- Obvious – This is situation where the property owner is negligent because they should have known about the dangerous condition.
- Hidden (a hole in the lawn covered by grass)
- Permanent - In most cases, an owner will be considered negligent if they are seen to have knowledge of the hazardous condition. This knowledge is based on if they knew, or should have known, about the condition before the slip and fall occurs.
- Temporary - the amount of time that the condition existed before the slip and fall occurred is important. If the spill occurred just before the accident, then the property owner may not be liable for injury. This is because the owner could not have known about the spill and would not have been able to do anything about it before the slip and fall. If the substance was present for some period of time before the incident, occurred in an area frequent to spills, then the owner may be liable, even if they did not know about the condition before it occurred.
Quick Slip And Fall Facts:
Slip and falls are the second leading cause of injuries and deaths after car accidents. Every hour an older adult dies as a result of a fall. The most common injuries resulting from slip and falls include, herniated disc, head injury and/or a knee injury. Learn more from Alan Sackrin, an expert slip and fall lawyer.
Related Slip and Fall Topics
Please feel free to read our other slip and fall (trip and fall) related articles and fact sheets, including:
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