Slip and falls are a common source of injury in public places. If a slip and fall accident in Los Angeles occurs because the owner of the property where the slip and fall occurs did not keep the property safe, the owner may be held liable and be held responsible for paying for the victim’s injuries and potentially other damages.
While many slip and falls do not cause serious injuries, they can result in fractures or in rare cases, death. The chance of serious injury increases when the slip and fall occurs in certain places of work, such as construction zones, or if the victim is elderly or has a previous injury which is aggravated by the fall. Below are some common causes of slip and falls and ways to prevent them. Contact a slip and fall personal injury attorney to discuss the details or your case.
Slip and Fall Accident in Los Angeles: Unmaintained Floors
It is a property owner’s responsibility to keep the floors of their property safe and free from hazards. Common examples of conditions which may lead to slip and fall accidents in a commercial area, such as a grocery store or gas station, include:
- Ripped carpet
- Loose or broken tiles
- Wet, sticky, or slippery floors
- Debris or other items on the ground
- Uneven floors due to settling or unmarked steps or grooves
- Unsecured rugs or mats
- Uneven stairs
Most of these conditions can be easily prevented. Upon opening a business or your home to guests, walk through the property and make sure none of the conditions above are present. If there is damage which cannot be repaired immediately, that area should be roped off and adequate warnings should be put up so that guests are aware of the hazards. If mopping or waxing the floors occurs while guests are on the property, put up adequate signage to warn guests and work in sections, allowing the floors to dry in between sections, if possible.
Sometimes, people will make fraudulent claims about the condition of the property’s floors with the hope of receiving a payday. For example, a person may intentionally spill olive oil on a grocery store aisle and pretend to fall. In order to avoid these scenarios, have a good camera monitoring system in place and have a schedule for employees to make rounds throughout the day.
Also note that while most slip and fall cases occur on commercial properties, homeowners can be held liable when someone falls and sustains injuries on their property. If you are having a few guests over or a party, follow the same procedures above to ensure that your home is safe and hazard free.
California is known for its pleasant weather, but some regions experience snow, storms, or earthquakes. If your business is located in a region where it snows, you should take steps to prepare sidewalks or entrances where guests will walk by plowing snow or putting salt on the ground. Additionally, if it is raining, keep an eye out for leaks in the roof which can cause pooling of water on the floor. Likewise, make sure water is not seeping into the property from cracks or doors.
While an earthquake is an act of God, California property owners can still be held liable for injuries or death suffered by individuals on their property after an earthquake. If a property which is open to the public is located in an area which is prone to earthquakes, the property owner has an affirmative duty to fortify your structure in order to avoid a collapse and death or injury to guests. After an earthquake occurs, the property owner has a duty to ensure that the property is safe and free from debris, uneven flooring, or other dangerous conditions which may cause injury prior to reopening.
Hazards at Nursing Homes
Owners of nursing homes have a heightened responsibility to keep their premises safe in order to avoid falls. Nursing homes serve to house the elderly population, and elderly individuals are less physically capable of sustaining falls without serious injury. Their vision may be impaired, making them unable to see items on the floor or unsafe conditions. Elderly individuals are also more likely to have more brittle bones and changes in joint performance, meaning they are more likely to suffer fractures or compact injuries as a result of a fall.
Property owners who are liable to victims of slip and fall accidents are liable to all injuries, even if the person injured is more sensitive than an average person. With groups such as elderly people or individuals with pre-existing conditions or prior injuries, there is no deduction or decrease in liability because of the pre-existing condition or age of the victim. Therefore, a property owner must keep premises safe for all guests and take those special circumstances into consideration to avoid slip and fall accidents.
Owners of nursing homes should ensure there is plenty of lighting and that there are no rugs or other items on the floor which may cause residents to slip and fall. Residents should be assisted when walking through the facility if necessary, and staff should regularly inspect the premises to remove any dangerous conditions to prevent slip and falls. As residents of a nursing home are likely to wear comfortable shoes or slippers rather than shoes with grip traction, nursing homes should have carpet when possible or flooring which does not easily become slippery.
Most slip and falls happen at businesses. Employees are the first line of defense to avoid injuries to both themselves and customers. Business owners must provide careful and thorough training to employees in order to make sure employees understand the risks and how to avoid slip and fall accidents at the workplace.
Each business owner should have policies and procedures and training which includes:
- Wearing proper non-slip footwear to avoid slip and falls;
- Regularly inspecting the premises to remove any dangerous conditions;
- Blocking off or placing adequate signage to areas which are wet or hazardous;
- How to report damaged flooring, leaks, or other conditions which may cause injuries;
- How to report slip and fall accidents to management;
- Proper cleaning techniques;
- Training regarding Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) procedures and best practices;
- Specialized training for particularly hazardous places of work, such as construction zones, nursing homes, child play places, etc.
Sometimes people try to get fast money by making a false claim of a slip and fall. While there is nothing a business owner can do to force customers to be honest, there are precautions a business owner can take to successfully defend themselves against these claims. If possible, every business owner should have surveillance cameras in place which monitor the public areas of the business. This is the first line of defense against such claims. If a customer creates the condition which causes the slip and fall, it will be easily visible on the camera. Additionally, business owners can require employees to create a log of monitoring and cleaning. For example, in a grocery store, there are generally employees assigned to each department. For each department (deli, produce, frozen, etc.), a separate log could be maintained wherein employees walk the department every thirty minutes and sign their initials to indicate that the floors are clear and hazard free. These logs can be used to discredit the fraudulent claim if it occurred at or around the time of inspection. Business owners should also limit cleaning such as mopping or waxing floors to after hours if possible.
If you have suffered injuries from a slip and fall, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the details or your case and determine whether the property owner may be held liable.