3 Common Slip and Fall Injury Hazards
“Slip and fall” might be one of the oldest slapstick gags, but injuries sustained from falling on hard surfaces are no joke. You risk much more than bumps and bruises from a serious fall: the result might be a torn ligament or a broken bone, a ruptured disk, or a dislocation. Injuries to the head, neck, and back could cause brain damage or paralysis; and any injury to an elderly person will be more severe, more prone to complications, and slower to heal.
If you’ve been injured in a fall anywhere other than your own property, the property owner might be liable for your damages. This will depend on whether:
- The poor condition of the property that caused your injuries was not made clear to you.
- The owner had a reasonable time to fix or warn people of the condition.
- The owner was aware, or should have been aware, of any dangerous condition.
- The condition of the property was obviously dangerous.
Knowing some of the most common hazards that lead to slip and fall injuries can help you understand the different steps you’ll need to take in each case to document the hazard and your injuries.
Icy parking lots, sidewalks, and driveways are a particular concern for people living in New York State. While we’re used to the walking in winter conditions, dangerous ice can hide beneath thin layers of snow, or be nearly invisible when melted and re-frozen over asphalt. Ice can cause accelerated falls, leading to serious injury.
Property owners have an obligation to keep their lots, driveways, and other surfaces reasonably clear of ice. Because the weather is beyond anyone’s control, though, liability for injuries from falls on ice can be tricky to determine. That’s why, if you’ve suffered an injury after slipping and falling on an icy surface, swift action is crucial. The icy conditions that led to your fall could be gone within the space of a single afternoon – either melted away or covered over with snow. An attorney specializing in personal injury can determine if you might have a case, and can dispatch a professional investigator to take pictures of the conditions that caused your injury and begin to contact witnesses for interviews and depositions.
Surface defects in lots and buildings
Commercial property owners are legally responsible for the maintenance of their property, within reason. When walking surfaces on commercial properties have defects – like loose flooring tiles, ruts, or potholes – owners are responsible for being aware of those defects within a reasonable time frame, fixing those defects, and notifying customers to stay away from the area before they are fixed.
If you’ve suffered an injury because of a surface defect on commercial property, try to take pictures of the defect and the surrounding area, and get contact information from witnesses. If you were not able to do this, your attorney can send an investigator to the scene.
Faulty stairs or handrails
Falling on faulty steps, or because of a broken handrail, can be even more dangerous than a slip and fall on a flat surface, because – depending on the height of the stairs – you could end up suffering many impacts, and sustaining multiple injuries.
Photographs of the scene are essential. If you can’t get these yourself, have a friend or family member get them, or have your attorney send an investigator. An investigator will probably be necessary anyway: New York State laws focus on the actual defect, and you’ll need to have this documented carefully, including pictures and, if many cases, measurements.
Friedman & Ranzenhofer – Your Rochester Personal Injury Attorneys
When you’ve been injured in a fall, you need to act quickly. Your priority should be to get the medical treatment after that, but if the fall was because of a property owner’s negligence, you also need to act quickly to ensure that you’ll be able to make a solid case to recover damages. Without that, the costs of your injury could grow beyond your control. An experienced personal injury attorney in Rochester can take care of much of what needs to be done while you rest and recover.
At Friedman & Ranzenhofer, we’ve put over 70 years combined experience to work for our Western New York clients. We offer legal consultations at our seven area offices, and even make house calls.
Contact us today to get the conversation started. In the meantime, you can explore more legal resources in our blog and video vault. You might want to start with our eBook Guide to Personal Injury in New York State.