A slip and fall accident can happen to anyone. It is easy to think that older people might be more prone to slip and fall accidents, but anyone at any age is vulnerable. A slip and fall does not have to be related to a person’s physical ability or sense of balance. It can also happen anywhere at any time of year, but winter conditions increase the likelihood of a slip and fall accident.
Ice and snow can create slippery surfaces that lead to slip and fall accidents. Winter storms and temperatures bring more opportunities for these conditions as well. Snow and ice can appear on walkways, sidewalks, stairs, and parking lots. Black ice often cannot be seen or noticed until one is standing right on top of it. Snow and slush collects on boots and gets tracked inside buildings. Even areas treated for snow and ice can refreeze overnight or during the day, making them safety hazards. Uneven surfaces are made worse by the accumulations of snow and ice.
Additionally, winter is the time of year with the fewest daylight hours. In some northern states, the sun is already setting in the late afternoon. With less light, it is harder to see the conditions that could lead to a slip and fall, such as snow, ice, and other slippery surfaces. As the sun retreats, these surfaces can refreeze quickly, even after being treated with salt and melting agents.
What are Common Injuries Resulting from Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents cause many different kinds of injuries, and some of them are quite serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 800,000 people are hospitalized every year for slip and fall injuries. Most brain injuries result from slip and falls. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by fall accidents, and one in every five falls result in a serious injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Sprains and strains
Even seemingly minor injuries can develop into bigger ones that require hospitalization or rehabilitative therapy. Slip and fall injuries can have long-term effects that can impact the ability to return to work at full capacity.
How can Winter Slip and Fall Accidents be Prevented?
Taking steps to prevent winter slip and falls can help protect against painful injuries. It is very important to wear the right foot gear with sturdy soles that provide traction on snowy and icy surfaces. Even those wearing proper footwear should not attempt to move quickly as some hazards cannot be anticipated, like black ice.
Always leave plenty of time to arrive at a destination so that one is not in a hurry. Test the ground to determine its condition before walking on it. Avoid carrying heavy loads or packages because this increases the likelihood of losing balance while walking on slick winter surfaces. Always use the available railings, walls, or handles for support and steadiness.
What is the Property Owner’s Responsibility?
Under premises liability, property owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for guests and visitors. Any known safety hazards must be removed or eliminated, and if this is not possible, they must be clearly marked so that visitors or guests know to avoid them.
In the winter months, removing safety hazards includes shoveling snow from driveways and stairs, clearing sidewalks and walkways, and salting any icy patches. All of these surfaces must be monitored regularly to ensure safe conditions, especially during a winter storm.
An often overlooked hazard in winter are gutters that are not properly routing water away from walkways. Gutters that drain too closely to sidewalks contribute to the pooling of water that can freeze over and cause a slip and fall. Placing mats in entry ways can help keep them dry and free from slush and melting snow.
Can I Get Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries?
Compensation may be available to anyone injured in a slip and fall accident that was caused by negligence. Recoverable damages may include the cost of medical treatment for injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Proving negligence begins with determining who is liable for the property where the slip and fall accident occurred. The property owner can be held liable if a dangerous condition existed that they should have known about and removed but failed to do so within a reasonable amount of time. They can also be held liable for causing a dangerous condition that led to an accident if the consequences were considered reasonably foreseeable.
In New Jersey, the premise of comparative negligence holds, which means that any compensation awarded to a plaintiff can be reduced by the amount that they are deemed responsible for the accident. For example if the property owner failed to clear snow and ice on the sidewalk but the plaintiff was also texting at the time of the accident, a jury could assign a percentage of blame to the plaintiff. Any damages awarded would be reduced by that percentage.
It is also important to note that slip and falls on government properties are governed by different laws, and the statute of limitations for filing a claim is usually much shorter. In New Jersey, most slip and fall claims must be filed within two years of the date of the accident, but government claims may allow for only 60 days. Consult with an experienced slip and fall lawyer who can help determine liability in a slip and fall case.
New Brunswick Slip and Fall Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Advocate for Victims Injured in Winter Slip and Fall Accidents
During winter, slip and fall accidents increase. If you have been injured in a slip and fall incidence, do not hesitate to contact a New Brunswick slip and fall lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Call us at 732-249-4600 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.