Falls are a leading cause of death and injuries to workers and to anyone visiting the property of another. According to the National Flooring Safety Institute:
- More than 20% of all visits to an emergency room are due to falls. Slips and falls account for 12% of all falls.
- Many people who fall suffer a fracture. Hip fractures are generally the most serious type of fracture someone can suffer.
- Falls are the leading reason workers lose time from work. For workers 55 and older, slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims.
- Yearly, one in three seniors (people over 65) will fall.
- “According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.”
Nearly three in five nursing home residents fall each year.
Why workers and people fall
Falls happen for many reasons including:
- There are slick or wet surfaces
- Torn carpets
- Loose railings
- Broken tiles
- Uneven surfaces
- Unsmooth surfaces such as gravel and dirt
- Objects on the floor including merchandise, tools, and equipment
- Being struck by another object or another person
Poor lighting or no lighting can also cause a fail by making it difficult to see any dangers or warnings.
Negligence liability for falls
Who is responsible and what damages apply often depends on where and how the falls occur.
When someone in Oklahoma goes shopping, walks through a hotel or apartment, visits a doctor or someone for professional services, or is legally on the property of another – they have the right to expect the property owner is keeping their property safe. Business owners, nonprofits, and homeowners have a duty to keep their premises safe. Some of these duties include:
- The duty to routinely inspect their property for dangers.
- The duty to be aware of what situations might create a fall such as rainy weather which tracks in a lot of water, oil, and grime.
- The duty to anticipate security issues on their property. For example, taverns should anticipate that people who are intoxicated and have money to spend on drinks may attack other patrons.
If someone falls while on the property of another, that victim has the right to file a personal injury claim against the owner of the premises. In premises liability claims, victims can demand compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and any long-term disability such as disfigurement or scarring.
The specific standard of care property owners must use depends on the reason the injured person was on the property.
- Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. Invitees are generally people who are on the property to benefit the property owner – such as by marking a purchase.
- Licensees are owed a less stringent duty of care. This generally means the property owner is liable if they had actual knowledge of a property defect and failed to make the repairs. Unlike invitees, licensees may not be able to recover if the owner only had reason to know of a property defect but didn’t have actual knowledge. Licensees are people on the property of another but aren’t there to benefit the property owner. Someone walking across a property owner’s sidewalk to get to another location is a licensee.
- Trespassers are owed almost no duty of care. These are people who have no right to be on someone’s property. In most cases (there are exceptions) the property owner is not liable to an injured trespasser.
Workers’ compensation claims and falls
A second common type of claim based on falls is a workers’ compensation claim. Employers are required, by Oklahoma law, to make their place of work safe. Workers who are injured while working due to a fall, or any other reason, do not need to prove the employer was negligence. Workers can file a work injury claim if they are an employee and if they were hurt while working.
Injured workers are then entitled to have all their medical bills paid by the employers’ insurance carrier. Injured workers can also claim work loss benefits. These benefits are generally 70% of their lost weekly wages for the time they need to heal. Some caps may apply.
Falls are especially common in outdoor work such as construction and working in oil refineries.
Many people will at least once during their lifetime. When falls occur anywhere for any reason, the experienced trial lawyers at Cunningham & Mears are ready to help. We’ve been fighting for accident victims for 20 years. Our Oklahoma City lawyers work aggressively to show how the accident happened and who is responsible. We then demand that responsible parties pay damages for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. For help with any fall case, call us at 405.212.9234 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.