We all know that person who seems to trip over invisible hazards and is regularly picking himself up off the ground. We might call this person a klutz and laugh at his misfortune as if he is performing a stunt for our amusement. However, whether you are prone to tripping accidents or not, everyone should have the expectation that business owners, city maintenance crews, and parking lot attendants are doing their part to keep our pathways free of hazards that could cause us to fall. Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries and it’s important to understand when you may have a claim against a property owner or municipal government.
Dangers of Slip and Fall Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are one of the leading causes of accidental injury death among all adults, and are the leading cause of accidental death among adults 65 and older. Injury caused by falls is the number one reason for emergency room visits, accounting for over 8 million visits each year. Falls are a particular risk for older people, but no age group is safe from serious injury caused by a slip and fall. The following are common injuries caused by falls:
Broken bones and sprains.
The force of a fall can cause an impacted bone or joint to break. Hand and wrist fractures are common as the victim attempts to brace himself for the landing with an outstretched hand. Knees can also take a large portion of the force.
A fall on an outstretched hand can jolt the shoulder joint, causing injury to the tendons and ligaments in the shoulder, or even a separation or fracture of the shoulder joint.
The most serious fracture a fall victim can suffer is to the hip joint. Most common in people over 65, hip fractures require a long and slow recovery and many seniors become permanently disabled.
Back and spinal cord injuries.
The impact of a fall can cause a strain in the deep muscles of the back, a herniated disc, or even damage to the spinal cord which could result in partial paralysis.
Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and can lead to cognitive dysfunction, loss of mobility, communication difficulty, and more.
Injuries caused by falls are no laughing matter. If you suffer a fall, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Often, you won’t feel the effects until the next day and you may miss out on valuable treatment time, not to mention confirmation that your injury exists.
Slip and Fall Hazards to be Aware of
Tripping hazards are everywhere. In fact, the most common place for a person to fall is in his or her own home. At home, you may encounter shoes or toys left about, obstacles in a dark room, or a pet crossing your path. But when you are out in public, you should be aware of the following common trip hazards:
- Torn carpeting
- Uneven flooring
- Wet floors
- Wet or icy sidewalks
- Cracked pavement
- Narrow or uneven staircases
- Broken railings
- Poor lighting
While we might have no one to blame but ourselves (or our children!) for a fall in our homes, we are not responsible for hazards such as these that cause us to fall in a public place. But how do you know when to pursue legal action?
When Is a Business Liable?
In order to prove that a property owner is responsible for your injuries, certain conditions must exist. First, you must prove that your fall was caused by a dangerous condition, such as the hazards listed above. Secondly, you must prove that the owner knew that the condition existed and did nothing about it. More specifically, you must show that:
- The dangerous condition presented an unreasonable risk to a person on the property.
- The injured party should not have been expected to anticipate the condition under the circumstances.
- The property owner either created the condition or the condition existed for long enough that the owner should have discovered it and corrected it before the incident in question.
Have You Been Injured On Someone's Property In Rhode Island?
If you've been injured on someone else's property you need to speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.