Slip Trip and Fall

Petry Law, P.A.

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Falls are consistently the leading cause of injury-producing accidents. They account for more than 1 million injuries each year in the United States.

Why are there so many falls? In part, because many people do not understand the complexity of same-surface slip-and-fall accidents. They assume that people fall because a floor is slick, the person that fell was clumsy or careless, or because they stepped on a foreign object. These assumptions lead to investigations that are one-dimensional and inadequate.

To truly understand why slip – trip and fall accidents occur and to determine who is responsible for causing the accident, one must acknowledge that people can fall for all sorts of reasons. Those reasons include the interaction between the walking surface and a person’s shoes; the environment, along with its distractions; and the physical and mental limitations of the victim.

Walking is a motor skill. Once learned, motor acts like walking are initiated in the cerebral cortex without conscious intention or intervention. Obviously, we do not need to tell our body what joint to move or which muscles to energize in order to walk. The mind orders a whole action, and the details occur without conscious direction.

Ordinarily, we do not consciously recognize changes in a walking surface. As we walk, we scan about 10 to 20 feet ahead of us. Our observations operate below the level of the conscious mind.

Most slip-and-fall accidents are caused by unexpected changes in the walking surface. To become aware of the hazard, the change in the surface must impinge upon our consciousness in some way.

If we see a potential hazard, we can usually avoid it. For example, in Minnesota, we have all walked on an icy sidewalk without falling because if we see the hazard we can adjust our behavior. It's the unseen hazard that places us at maximum risk.

The Most Common Types of Falls

Same-surface falls can be classified into four categories:

  • Trip-and-fall accidents, in which pedestrians encounter a foreign object in their walking path;
  • Stump-and-fall accidents, in which a moving foot encounters an impediment in the walking surface, whether it is a tacky point on the surface or a defect that impedes the foot;
  • Step-and-fall accidents, in which the foot finds an unexpected failure or hole in the walking surface; and
  • Slip-and-fall accidents in which the interface of the shoe and the floor fails to support the walker's center of gravity over the base area.

The slip and fall is the most common accident. Foot contact is broken, and the individual attempts to right himself or herself. Recovery of equilibrium is reflexive and not under conscious control in most cases. If the pedestrian strikes the surface with a fleshy part of the body, the injuries are likely to be minimal. If the victim strikes a bony body part, the injuries may be more severe.

Know your Rights

When walking in a public place, we have the right to be advised of any hazards we are likely to encounter. We are also entitled to assume that owners of property maintain the property in reasonably safe condition. If we choose to proceed with full knowledge of a hazard, we assume at least some of the risk associated with the hazard. If the hazard has been knowingly or carelessly disguised, an accident can be expected.

Lighting can disguise a defect or hazardous condition. A change in the normal walking environment must be visible to the pedestrian and stand out from the background. Glare and too much or too little contrast in the walking environment can reduce the efficiency of a person’s eyes.

A Prompt Investigation is Critical

Accident scenes can change soon after an accident occurs. Defective conditions are repaired and critical evidence can be removed or destroyed. Photographs of the accident scene can help an investigator evaluate the effect of light and other conditions on the mishap. It is important to photograph the site properly, making sure the photographs represent the accident point from the eight compass positions. These photographs often provide unexpected insights.

A “slip - trip and fall” can happen inside or outside, and can be caused by wet or bad floors, poor lighting, slippery sidewalks, bad weather, escalators or elevators, swimming pools or hidden hazards. These accidents are by far the most common type of premises liability cases in which property owners and businesses have a duty to provide a safe environment for those on their property. Serious injuries such as broken bones, back injuries, head trauma or even fatalities can occur in slip, trip and fall accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fall, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. Please call our Minneapolis Injury Lawyers – Attorneys now at 612.339.3852 for a free legal consultation.

Seeking Justice. Making an Impact.

Rick L. Petry - Injury Attorney
Petry Law, PA.
Adress: 301 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 378N
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415
Phone: (612) 387-7229
Fax: (612) 545-4989
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