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Property owners may be responsible for slip and falls

Floor surfaces that are improperly cleaned, installed, or maintained can cause injuries. Slip and fall accidents in this country because of these and other conditions cause eight million trips to the emergency room. Landlords and other property owners may face premises liability lawsuits if they do not take reasonable steps to prevent these accidents.

Slip and fall accidents explained

There are many reasons why people can slip and fall on a rental or commercial property. Property owners can help prevent these by undertaking reasonable precautions.

Typical causes of these accidents include:

  • Floor surface contamination such as water, dust, construction debris and sand.
  • Worn carpet, warped linoleum, and other flooring in poor condition.
  • Different types of adjacent surfaces such as carpeted hallway being next to a tiled lobby.
  • Spills that are not cleaned up.
  • Poor lighting.
  • Old age, disability, or other physical limitations on mobility.
  • Running and playing around in places such as swimming pool areas and stairwells.
  • Inadequate attention by looking at I-phones or carrying too many packages.
  • Poor footwear.

Injuries can be serious. These may include broken bones, joint dislocations, head injuries and sprained muscles.

High risk areas

Common areas for slip and fall accidents include:

  • Lobby or front entrances.
  • Stairs and ramps.
  • Pool decks.
  • Areas with dripping condensation or leaking pipes.
  • Anyplace where the flooring changes in texture and level.
  • Anywhere there are spills such as store shelves with liquid products or serving stations at restaurants.

Owner liability

A property owner may be held liable when there is proof that they knew about the potential hazard that caused the injury and did not take reasonable steps to prevent the accident by fixing the problem or providing adequate warning.

Property owners can prevent hazards with better cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. They should consider improving floor conditions throughout the property but especially in areas that pose more risks.

Preventive measures include:

  • Assuring that the right flooring is being used for each area. Textured concrete, for example, should be used to prevent slip and falls near pools and spas.
  • Proper installation of carpeting, tile, laminate, or resilient flooring. Poorly installed carpet, for example, can wear unevenly or ripple and pose a tripping hazard. Uneven tiles can catch footwear.
  • Regular inspections of flooring surfaces and other conditions. The owner or an employee should walk throughout the property and look for potential hazards such as inadequate stair illumination, burned out lightbulbs, spills, blocked areas, curling stair treads, wrinkled floor mats and broken tiles.
  • Proper care and maintenance. Each type of flooring needs special care. Overuse of chemical products may cause floors to become more slippery or sticky.
  • Regular maintenance should occur on a daily and weekly basis or when needed. This can help keep floors in good condition. Other care involves dust mopping, wet mopping and vacuuming with good products and equipment. Floor cleaning should occur during off hours with less traffic.
  • Proper signs that identify floors that were just mopped, where a spill was not cleaned up or a repair was not completed. Warning and caution signs should also be placed in hazard areas like a front entrance on a rainy day or in a pool area.
  • An effective spill plan that assures employees or maintenance workers quickly take care of unexpected spills.
  • Proper lighting can help assure that guests, customers, or tenants can see where they are going or illuminate potentially unsafe areas.

An attorney can help pursue evidence if there was an injury caused by a landlord’s negligence. They can seek compensation for injuries and losses suffered in these accidents.

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