There are many reasons for what are called slip-trip-and-fall accidents, at both residential and commercial properties, that result from dangerous or defective property conditions. Some of the many causes are icy sidewalks that were not properly cleaned and salted; a broken, uneven or cracked sidewalk pavement; spilled liquids on stairs, hallways, or supermarket aisles; deteriorated or broken ramps, steps or handrails; dangerous and defective equipment at gyms; and many other causes much too numerous to mention.
There’s no single cause for a slip trip and fall accident case. Instead, there are countless issues that can lead to serious injuries. These issues often include:
When we walk, our feet are very close to the ground – even as we step forward. This makes uneven surfaces especially dangerous, as even catching your foot just slightly can leave you off-balance and liable to fall. Uneven surfaces include misaligned paving materials, loose carpets and rugs, corroded or damaged flooring – and much more.
Some surfaces just are not suitable for walking on safely. As such, people are far more likely to slip, trip, or fall. Graveled surfaces, surfaces that don’t drain water, and surfaces that are slippery when wet can be examples of particularly dangerous surfaces.
Clutter makes walkways or paths dangerous for people to negotiate. It’s not unreasonable to expect to be able to walk through a space without having to side-step, climb over, or move items – as that can result in falls and injuries. It’s not possible to keep an area tidy all the time – but if someone’s health and safety relies on it, it’s the duty of the property owner to make sure it’s done.
New York City sees the full spectrum of weather – including rain, snow, and ice. Unfortunately, some surfaces turn slick when wet, making falls far more likely. In other cases, sidewalks and paved areas can collect ice and snow when the weather is poor. While we all know to take care in poor conditions, property owners also have a duty of care to make sure their property doesn’t represent an additional risk.
Obstacles and hazards in our path can only be avoided if they can be seen – which is why lighting is so important. Without the correct level of light, we have to trust that a walkway is safe – and if the lights are neglected, it’s not uncommon to find the overall property is neglected and dangerous too.
Stairs and handrails
Staircases and steps must be safe to use and meet all code requirements. The New York City Building Code has numerous provisions to ensure that all stairs and handrails are safe. Unfortunately, the rules are not always followed. For example, stairs should be of uniform height without any holes, depressions or cracks. Handrails need to be at the right location and height with sufficient strength and finger clearance for a proper grip and support. Falls on stairs can be incredibly hazardous and can result in catastrophic life-changing injuries.
New York City can often feel like a never-ending series of construction projects – and often, that construction spills out into areas used by the public. Construction sites have far more hazards than typical public areas – including materials, tools, equipment, vehicles, excavations, and more. They can be an accident waiting to happen.
No warning signs
If a slip and fall hazard is present, people should be made aware of it with the appropriate signage. If this isn’t present, the hazard may not be visible. For example, if the super is mopping a stair or lobby floor wet floor warning signs must be put out. If it is raining and the lobby floor gets wet then mats and wet floor warning signs must be put out.
Misleveled grate or plate on a sidewalk or street
Whether walking on a New York City sidewalk or crossing the street, unfortunately, many obstacles and dangers are encountered. A metal plate or cover inserted into a sidewalk may not be level with the sidewalk. Or a construction plate in the street may be in a raised position from the street surface or be slippery. Holes can be present in the street or on a sidewalk.
Protruding screw or nail
Even if a screw or nail is only slightly protruding from a floor it is still a serious tripping hazard. As everyone has probably experienced it does not take much to catch the front of the shoe and cause you to lose your balance.
As can be seen from the examples above there are many causes for slip, trip and fall accidents. Unfortunately, any slip, trip and fall can cause a very serious injury that may be life altering. We have seen many fractured hips, wrists, shoulders and knees all due to a simple fall.
To understand why the causes of slips, trips and falls are so dangerous you must think of the numbers. If one thousand (1000) people walk by any of the causes listed above, then assume that only ten (10) of them will slip, trip and fall. Assume then that of those that fall only one (1) will be seriously injured. By not making the street or sidewalk safe to walk on the owner of the property is willing to accept that one (1) person being injured, rather than making the area safe for walking.