Falls, Trips, Slips and Missteps

When someone Falls, their first reaction is that they were clumsy or really not paying attention to where they were going.,  Although this may be true, more often than not, the fall was caused, at least in part, from a defective, dangerous and unexpected condition encountered by the pedestrian. Whether a fall was caused by a trip, slip or misstep, a recovery for damages rests on whether or not there was negligence on the part of the person or entity that owned, operated, maintained, created or controlled the surface that led to the fall. Finding fault requires that there was a defective condition which had not be remedied even though there was a reasonable opportunity to do so.

Trip and fall occurs when someone unexpectedly encounters a change in the surface that they are waling on, which they could not or did not perceive. This can occur from a raised walkway surface of a quarter of an in or more. It can also occur from stepping in a hole or encountering a foreign object such as a curb, or raised saddle in a doorway. Often, receiving compensation in these types of cases also depends on the lighting in the area where the incident occurred. The absence of adequate lighting no only bears on the defendant’s degree of fault, but also the comparative fault of the injured party. If the injured party was deprived of an opportunity to observe the defective condition even if it was open and obvious, it strengthens their claim.

Slip and fall occurs when some encounters a walking surface that is unreasonably slippery. There are many examples of this type of fall such as when a liquid is spilled or otherwise comes onto the walking surface and is not timely cleaned up. These types of falls occur most frequently in supermarkets, often in the produce aisles where grapes and other fruit can fall as well as restaurants where spillage is common from carrying trays of food and drink. Probably the most common types of slip and fall cases involve seasonal ice that forms on sidewalks, parking lots and other walkway surfaces. Recover in these types of cases often depend on maintenance routines and whether reasonable steps were taken to prevent and or treat the problem in a timely manner.

Misstep and fall usually involves the use of stairs or descending from a change in elevation. Again, it is the expectation that causes the fall and injury. There are codes and standards which were enacted to minimize the occurrence of this type of incident.  Accordingly, there are standards for riser heights and tread widths on stairs, as well as requirements for handrails. Departures from these rulesand regulations will often give rise to liability.