Every year, nearly nine million Americans are sent to the emergency room due to an unexpected fall. Of these injuries, over 25,000 accounted for fatalities in 2009, with elderly Americans facing a risk four times greater than others of a fatal fall. While the conditions surrounding these accidents vary, it is particularly unfortunate when such events could have easily been avoided by an owner or employer taking proper preventative measures. A wet floor is one example of a hazardous environment that can usually be fixed or at least clearly identified before an accident occurs.
If you are the victim of an injurious fall due to someone else’s wet floor in the New York or Long Island area, there may be steps you can take to receive compensation for damages. Through the help of an experienced slip and fall attorney, you can learn exactly what to do to protect yourself from the financial consequences of such an injury.
Damages from Injury
Falls are a leading cause of personal injury to Americans, both within and outside of the workplace. Common areas that contain wet floors leading to falls include:
- Kitchens and dining areas
- Entryways and foyers
- Locker rooms
- Near janitorial closets
Of course, any area is a potential risk for a fall if there is a slippery surface, such as from cleaning materials or a nearby leak. When a fall does occur, victims may suffer from hip fractures, back injuries, head trauma, and even death. Medical expenses immediately resulting from the injury can be prohibitively high, with emergency room visits costing over $20,000 for a single fall. Ongoing medical care often requires further payment, along with the missed wages that one may accrue from lack of work. As bad as an injury may be, the financial damages are often equally, if not more, distressing.
Who Is at Fault?
If you want to prove that a property owner is at fault for your fall on a wet floor, one of two situations must have occurred:
- The property owner was directly responsible for the wet floor, resulting in a hazardous condition to the average person. For example, an owner or employee may have spilled a liquid on the floor and did not clean it up within a reasonable time period.
- A wet or slippery floor went unrecognized by the owner for an unreasonable period of time, and was therefore not remedied before an accident occurred. In such a case, the hazard should be clearly recognizable and the owner should have had sufficient time to identify and fix it.
In all cases, there a few factors that play a strong role in whether or not an owner can be held liable for negligence. Time is important, since someone cannot be reasonably expected to fix every problem instantaneously; the owner is allotted a certain amount of time to fix a problem before he or she is legally responsible for such accidents. Another important factor is whether the victim should have been expected to notice the hazard. If the wet floor was somehow identified or made obvious, the owner may not be held responsible. Finally, the judge or jury will scrutinize whatever steps were taken to solve the problem. Your best bet at proving negligence is to demonstrate that the owner or employee did not attempt to maintain a reasonably safe environment.
What Should You Do?
After suffering injury from a slip or fall, be wary of whom you talk to and retain any evidence of the accident. Until you contact a personal injury attorney, do not make any official statements regarding the fall, including to your insurance company. In addition to contacting any necessary medical assistance, take the following steps:
- Record the names and contact information of relevant property owners and employees
- Record the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Take pictures of your injuries immediately after the fall
- Take pictures of the wet floor and surrounding areas
- Save the shoes you were wearing at the time of the fall
- Take note of any poor lighting or similar environmental conditions that may have obstructed your awareness
Contact Our Legal Office
Because slip and fall cases are directly correlated with the conditions at the time of the accident, it is important to call an attorney as soon as possible. By arriving at the scene and gathering evidence early on, we can best represent your case. Contact our office to learn more about how you can be compensated for your injuries and resulting damages.