Within the next hour, an average of over 1,000 people in the United States will slip or trip and fall. While many of these accidents will occur in the homes of the victims, others will happen in public areas as the result of someone's negligent actions. Most falls happen on same-level walking surfaces.
You may think of same-level slip-and-fall injuries as scraped knees, a bruised tailbone or, in the worst case, a broken arm. However, victims and insurance companies spend over $60 billion each year in treatment for injuries resulting from slip-and-fall accidents. This does not include the end-of-life expenses for those whose injuries are fatal. If you have fallen because of a hazardous condition on someone else's property, you understand the seriousness of the issue.
Common fall hazards
While winter has not yet arrived in West Virginia, you may be like many who dread the icy surfaces on sidewalks and parking lots. Navigating your way from your car to a shopping center in winter is dangerous enough, especially if the property owner or manager has not taken steps to eliminate the ice. However, winter weather is not the only factor that can turn a level surface into a fall hazard. Others include the following:
- Wet leaves or grass clippings
- Cracks, holes or level shifts on a sidewalk or floor
- Liquids on the floor from leaking pipes, spills, excess mopping or water carried in on people's shoes on rainy days
- Tears or curls in floor mats or rugs
- Loose or broken tiles
In addition to these dangers on level surfaces, you may encounter tripping hazards on steps and stairs, such as clutter, broken steps, missing or loose handrails, or stairwells that are too dark to see where you are going.
Injuries are not always minor
A fall may result in injuries that keep you away from work for days and require extensive medical intervention. Some common level-surface fall injuries include broken bones, back injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Falling on the stairs places at you at risk of these and other injuries, such as devastating neck and spinal cord damage.
If you have suffered injuries in a fall, before you discuss a settlement with an insurance company, you may benefit from a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can thoroughly assess your case and help you determine the best course of action for obtaining the fair compensation you deserve.