Nine common types of slip and fall accidents are those caused by:
- hazardous walking surfaces,
- stray electrical cords,
- broken or damaged handrails,
- poor lighting,
- cluttered walking areas,
- bad footwear,
- poor workplace training, and
- nursing home neglect.
In many of these cases, you can recover compensation under premises liability law.
1. Hazardous walking surfaces
Hazardous walking surfaces are likely one of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents. Some examples are:
- slippery floors,
- uneven walkways,
- loose carpets,
- uneven or loose floorboards,
- an object protruding from the floor,
- a slippery object on the ground, like a piece of fruit or ice or a puddle in a grocery store,
- slight inclines or declines in the floor,
- wet floors,
- sinkholes in a yard,
- hidden steps, and
- weak or broken stairs.
These dangerous conditions are often difficult to see. When they are present in stores or businesses, you are rarely looking for them or expecting them. In supermarkets, for example, the items on the shelves are designed to attract your vision and attention, decreasing your odds of seeing the hazardous condition. This is why it is so common to see warning signs to notify people of the danger. When those signs are not there, you do not know to be on the lookout for the hazard.
The weather can also cause slip and fall accidents, mainly in the winter. Wintry conditions can cause hazardous walking surfaces, which can cause a slip and a fall. Some common examples are:
- icy sidewalks or parking areas,
- snowy walkways,
- walking surfaces that have been so heavily salted that you roll on the grains,
- dangerous conditions hidden by a snowfall, like an uneven sidewalk,
- wet leaves on a sidewalk, and
- puddles that hide the depth of a pothole in a parking lot.
Weather can also make slippery flooring worse. When it is raining or snowing outside, people bring water into buildings on their shoes. This can make slick or slippery flooring far worse than it normally is. This is especially dangerous for people familiar with the premises. They may underappreciate how slick the floor has become.
3. Stray electrical cords
Stray electrical cords can also cause people to trip and fall. These injuries happen most frequently on worksites. When they do, they create numerous risks to the person tripping and to others around them.
The person who tripped on the wire can get hurt from the fall.
Additionally, if the tug on the electrical cord from their foot does not yank the cord from the electrical outlet, it can pull on whatever the cord is attached to. If that is a power tool, it can put whoever was using it in severe danger. Even if the cord was not attached to something inherently risky, it can still pull the device to the ground, adding chaos to the incident and potentially hurting someone.
4. Broken or damaged handrails
Handrails that are broken or damaged can cause a serious fall. When you lean on a handrail, you expect it to hold your weight. If it breaks or cracks or fails, it can throw you off balance and cause you to fall.
Importantly, not all handrails are the ones that you find in a stairwell. Some handrails are far more important or dangerous when they fail. Some of these handrails are on:
- observation decks of tall buildings,
- patios and porches, including those well above the first floor of the building,
- river walks, and
- animal enclosures.
If these handrails break and you fall, you could sustain life-threatening or fatal injuries.
5. Poor lighting
An often overlooked cause of slip or trip injuries is poor lighting. When the light is bad, you are far less likely to see an unsafe condition. Obvious slip and fall dangers like uneven flooring, a broken step, or an object to trip over become much less obvious when the lighting is bad.
Poor lighting is most likely to be a factor or a cause of a slip and fall injury in a:
- parking garage,
- unlit street,
- indoor concert, or a
- bar or nightclub.
Some of these areas are frequently crowded. Falling in a crowd can knock over other people. Other people may also step on you, causing additional injuries.
6. Cluttered walking areas
Even if the walking surface is not a danger, other things on it can be. Cluttered walking areas can easily cause you to trip as you navigate through the debris.
These problems are far more likely to be encountered in someone’s home than in a public area or a business. However, you may still find dangerously cluttered areas in:
- antique stores,
- flea markets, and
- thrift shops.
7. Bad footwear
Wearing bad footwear can also cause a slip or a trip and fall. This happens the most often with:
- high heels, or
- poorly-fitting shoes.
Sandals and flip-flops are known to trip people up and make them fall. High heels and stilettos can break off or, if you do not step perfectly, can cause you to roll your ankle and fall to the side. Even some shoes can cause a slip or a trip. If they are too big for your feet, you may misjudge how high to step and they can clip the ground and make you trip. If a shoe’s soles are too worn they can fail to keep you from slipping.
Unfortunately, these are all circumstances where it is difficult to recover compensation for your injuries. If your choice of shoes caused the accident, then it gives the defendant a strong argument that they should not be held liable. They will argue that it was your footwear that caused your injuries, rather than the negligent upkeep of their premises. At the very least, they will say that your recovery should be diminished under your state’s comparative negligence rules.
8. Poor workplace training
Some of the worst slip and fall injuries happen on construction worksites. In some of these cases, the accident can be caused by poor workplace training.
Construction companies should train their workers about the dangers of the worksite. This includes lessons on how to:
- work on ladders,
- safely use scaffolding, and
- get in and out of heavy equipment.
Failing to provide this training can lead to a serious accident. If you fall and get hurt from a hazard that was not obvious, but that you would have avoided if you were told about it, your employer may be held liable.
9. Nursing home neglect
Another common cause of slip and fall accidents is nursing home neglect. When staff members at nursing homes do not adequately monitor their patients, they can wander unsupervised. People in nursing homes are some of the most vulnerable to a slip and fall accident because of their advanced age. They are also often in poor health. Worse, the injuries they suffer after slipping and falling tend to be severe, both because of their age and because they are often unable to brace themselves for the fall.
Who are the most common victims of a slip and fall accident?
People over the age of 65 are the most commonly injured people in slip and fall accidents.
Unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury for people over 65 in 2017 – nearly 10 times higher than the second highest cause of injury.1 In 2014, 28.7 percent of adults over 65 reported falling in the past 12 months, totaling around 29 million falls.2
However, falls are also common in the workplace. In 2020, 17 percent of fatal injuries in the workplace were attributable to a fall.3
Regardless of who you are, a slip and fall lawyer can help you recover.
What are some common fall injuries?
Slip and fall accidents have a false reputation for only causing minor injuries. Many people are under the impression that you cannot get seriously hurt in a fall. This is a misperception. Especially for senior citizens, falls can cause serious and potentially even fatal injuries.
Some common slip and fall injuries include:
- broken bones, especially the:
- bones in the wrists and hands, from trying to brace for the fall,
- back, and
- concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI),
- spinal cord injuries,
- nerve damage,
- soft tissue injuries, and
- cuts or lacerations.
Some of these are severe injuries. They can require an emergency room visit and extensive medical treatment.
What compensation is available in a slip and fall claim?
If you slip and fall and suffer a serious injury, you deserve compensation. That compensation should cover all of your losses from the accident, not just your medical bills. You can get it by filing a personal injury claim against the property owner or manager. You can hold them responsible for your injuries through premises liability. Their insurance company will usually cover the settlement or verdict from a personal injury case.
A personal injury attorney from a reputable law firm can help you recover this compensation.
If the fall was a fatal one, a slip and fall attorney can represent the fall victim’s loved ones in a wrongful death claim.
If the slip and fall case happened on the worksite, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for your lost wages and medical expenses under your state’s workers’ compensation laws.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “National Estimates of the 10 Leading Causes of Nonfatal Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments, United States – 2017.”
- Gwen Bergen, Mark R. Stevens, and Elizabeth R. Burns, “Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2014.” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 65(37):993–998 (Sept. 23, 2016).
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2020,” (Dec. 16, 2021).