In the United States, nearly four million people a year are taken to the hospital after a slip and fall injury. The CDC says another 20-thousand people die each year from a slip and fall.
For those who survive…these types of injuries often involve brain and spine injuries…and can be life-changing. During the winter months, emergency rooms see a spike in slip and falls. So, with another winter blast recently and more winter weather heading our way—it’s a great time to remind home and business owners alike about what they must to do by law, to protect neighbors, tenants, and patrons.
Slip and Falls During Winter Season on FOX43
Amy: Tony, you’re very familiar with these statistics. Why is it so important for business owners, landlords and even homeowners to understand their liability?
Tony: In our state alone, would you be surprised to learn falls are second to poisoning as the leading cause of accidental deaths. It really is a big problem.
We see a large number of cases involving slips and falls—and most of the time the accidents could have been avoided if precautions were taken. Carelessness or inattention of a business owner can do a lot of harm, both physically and financially.
As an attorney who helps people injured in slip and falls, i see the devastation that these injuries bring on a daily basis. On the flip side, as a business and home owner, i am acutely aware of my responsibilities to make my property safe for those who are visiting. Not doing so can result in getting dropped by your insurance company and personal or business financial exposure beyond your insurance coverage.
Amy: So, what should business owners know… how can they protect themselves from something like this happening?
Tony: Under the legal concept of premises liability—property owners have a duty to provide a safe environment for residents, visitors and employees.
That means, if walkways need cleared of snow and ice, or even (year-round) if a walkway is uneven due to broken bricks or concrete—the business owner is required to handle the situation in a timely manner.
Not taking care of an icy walkway or parking lot—or a water-soaked floor could constitute negligence…which is the underlying key factor in personal injury cases. Anyone injured or badly hurt because of negligence can pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and their pain and suffering.
So, not just landlords here– we’re talking office buildings, restaurants, nursing homes, hotels, shopping malls, hospitals, grocery stores—you name it.
Amy: Now what about homeowners—what is their obligation after a snow-storm to clear their walkways?
Tony: Unless your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association that clears snow and ice from sidewalks, the homeowner is generally responsible for clearing the sidewalk– the city or local government is not typically liable for these types of things.
Many municipalities will actually dictate how soon after snowfall the sidewalk must be cleared.
If a homeowner fails to follow the rules… and someone is injured because of negligence—they may be able to be compensated for their injuries. These cases can get dicey because often people know or are familiar with the person who owns the property where they fell.
However, if injuries are severe, people really should consider the expenses involved for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Keep in mind—in many cases, the defendant’s homeowner’s insurance company will pay for a lawyer and damages for them—meaning you don’t cause your neighbor or the business owner individual financial harm—and you still get the compensation you need.
Amy: So, what if the fall happens at work—many someone slips in the parking lot?
Tony: Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation act allows for workers to get benefits without regard to fault—but the injury must have happened when the employee was performing work-related tasks. In this event, it is important for the injured worker to immediately report accident and seek out medical treatment.
In this scenario, workers’ comp typically covers medical expenses, wage loss benefits… and compensation for certain scarring and disfigurement
Amy: Thanks, Tony… great reminder to everyone to make sure they are taking care of any hazards on their property this winter… and to those who many be injured in a slip and fall, that they do have options for compensation. Guessing, Tony—they can reach out to you if they have any questions regarding a slip and fall?
Tony: Absolutely—we are here 24/7 to answer questions. People can call 1-800-hurt-now—or head to our website at www.georgelislaw.com to chat with us or to fill out a free case review form. There’s no fee involved—we only get paid when we win money for our clients. So, there is nothing to lose to make the call for us to answer your questions.