When you see it on TV or in the movies slipping and falling – whether on a banana peel or someone’s outstretched leg – can be entertaining. But in real life, the personal injury resulting from a trip down the stairs, slip on a rough patch of ground or flip over uneven ground is no laughing matter. The injuries resulting from these accidents can be painful and have real and lasting consequences.
Each year more than one million people in the United States experience injury from a trip, slip or fall with more than 17,000 people dying as a result of these injuries.* But why do slip and fall accidents occur? More than 70 percent of these types of falls happen because of dangerous conditions such as poor design or improper maintenance. Other risks are slippery surfaces or substances – such as objects or liquids – spilled on the ground.
Sometimes these accidents are exactly that with no one at fault. However, there are instances where poor maintenance or lapsed oversight — such as poor lighting, a broken railing or lapse in care — is the cause.
Keep in mind that in order to determine liability for any injuries that you’ve suffered at least one of the following factors must have been in play. The owner of the premises or an employee:
- Created the dangerous situation which led to the fall
- Knew of the situation but did nothing to rectify it
- Should have known about the situation because a “reasonable” person taking care of the property would have discovered and/or removed or repaired the situation
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUFFER A SLIP AND FALL INJURY?
- Report the slip and fall accident. If you slip and fall in a public place or commercial establishment (like a store or supermarket) you should report the incident to company management as soon as possible. Documenting the accident creates a paper trail and captures information while it is still fresh in everyone’s minds, while also creating an impetus for management to hopefully rectify the dangerous situation.
- Seek immediate medical help. Most often the severe injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident will not manifest themselves for several days or even weeks, making it even more important to see a doctor quickly.
- Determine the cause of your accident and keep records of all reports as well as any other paperwork. In order to have a viable claim it is necessary to determine the dangerous condition or situation that caused your slip and fall, and time is usually of the essence. If you can, take photos and keep all reports from the accident such as medical or police reports.
- Track the effects of your injury. Hold onto medical bills and receipts for any other related costs (such as receipts for travel). Also be sure to log down time and wages lost from your inability to work.
- Contact a lawyer as soon as soon as possible. In Hawaii the statute of limitation for a slip and fall accident is two years.
*Statistics according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)