What causes slips, trips and falls? Who is liable? What is at risk?
Slips, trips and falls accidents result in thousands of preventable injuries. Slips, trips and falls are also among the most frequent causes of loss. These accidents can result in claims and judgments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, which ultimately can impact your insurance premium. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are completely preventable. 56% of slips, trips and falls were caused by environmental factors such as: slippery surfaces following rain or spills, poorly designed or maintained walkways, poor lighting on stairs and walkways and trip hazards.
More than one million slip-and-fall accidents occur in the United States each year. They are the No. 1 reason people go to a hospital emergency room, and 17,000 people die each year from these accidents.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company estimates that more than $61 billion per year is spent on disability claims in America with $15.57 billion, or 25.1 percent, resulting from falls. An additional $2.35 billion, or 3.8 percent is spent on slips and trips that do not result in a fall. (Source)
While General Liability and Commercial Package Insurance policies usually cover these types of injuries, these type of accidents can result not only in insurance claims but also in costly and time-consuming lawsuits. Liability can be a tricky determination but usually a lawsuit can be filed against a property owner, property manager and/or a cleaning contractor.
When can a property owner, building manager or cleaning contractor be held liable for a trip and fall?
- The property owner, manager or cleaning contractor caused the accident.
- The property owner, manager or cleaning contractor was aware of a dangerous surface but did nothing about it.
- The property owner, manager or cleaning contractor should have known of a dangerous surface or situation but did nothing about it. (Source)
In most instances, these accidents and resulting lawsuits and claims can be lessened or prevented entirely simply by addressing the most common causes of such losses.
The Most Common Causes of Slips, Trips, and Falls:
- Spills, wet or icy walking surfaces
- Uneven or worn floors/carpets/steps/sidewalks
- Inadequate or poorly maintained lighting
- Obstructed views
- Poor housekeeping – Excess clutter/trash in walkways or near open flames or hot surfaces