Slippery Surface Falls
Slippery surface falls routinely cause serious injury, ranging from skull fractures and spinal injuries to broken hips and fractured wrists.
Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured has been representing slip-and-fall victims in South Florida for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, recent legislation in Florida has made these cases tougher to pursue, with the burden of proof to establish negligence more demanding on plaintiffs than ever before.
With strict liability no longer a principle Florida courts use in premises liability cases, determining the chances of success following a Fort Myers slip-and-fall will require careful analysis of the following elements:
- Where the injured person was;
- What they were doing;
- The nature of the slippery substance (and whether it was plainly visible);
- How long the substance had been on the floor;
- What notice/knowledge the property owner/possessor had about the substance;
- Whether the property owner should have known it was likely to be present;
- The steps, if any, taken by the property owner to address the hazard or warn about it.
Answering these questions will help our personal injury attorneys establish the injured party’s status on site (business invitee, licensee or trespasser—each owed a different degree of care by the property owner), the property owner’s actual or constructive knowledge of the danger, and whether his or her duty of care was breached, proximately resulting in the injuries sustained. It will also help us to determine whether there may be a degree of comparative fault, meaning the injured person shares some responsibility for what happened, which could diminish the amount of total recovery.Where Do Slippery Surface Falls Occur?
While almost any walking surface can become slippery under the right conditions, those most likely to become slick are tile floors, including ceramic, marble and terrazzo. Florida builders have been more apt to use these materials in residential and commercial structures than those in Northern States.
The surface looks nice and it’s generally easy to maintain. However, these floors are prone to causing slips—even when they are dry—and they can be especially dangerous when highly-polished or when some other liquid substance is present. HGTV.com, which advises property owners on building design and materials, indicates that terrazzo tile, which is often installed in public buildings because of its durability and versatility, is “quite slippery and can cause falls.”
Some tile is made to be “slip-resistant,” and these are ideal for areas that expect a lot of traffic. Even so, any tile that sees a lot of wear-and-tear can become smooth over time and slippery when wet.
ASTM F13, the committee with the American Society for Testing and Materials responsible for setting pedestrian and flooring product safety standards, currently has no coefficient of friction standard to reduce slipping hazards. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has recommended a coefficient of friction standard of 0.05 for walking and working surfaces, which was offered as a proposed rule but never passed as law to become a mandatory standard.
Some common places where slippery surface falls in Cape Coral occur include:
- Public bathrooms;
- Grocery store entryways;
- Shopping centers;
- Hospitals and nursing homes;
- Public meeting places.
You will note that many of these locations are often primarily covered with tile walking surfaces.Prevention of Slippery Surfaces
Property owners—especially those who welcome the public on site to conduct business—owe a duty to patrons to use reasonable care in preventing fall hazards that aren’t obvious, or at least warn of them.
It’s true that the passage of § F.S. 768.0755 raised the bar for claims against businesses for slippery surfaces by requiring plaintiffs to present proof a business had actual or constructive knowledge of the condition and should have taken action to remedy it. However, businesses that ignore risk posed by slippery surfaces may quickly find themselves on the losing end of litigation.
The tips below will help Florida business owners mitigate the risk of slip-and-fall injuries occurring on their premises:
- Place absorbent mats at entryways in wet or inclement weather to prevent the floor from becoming slippery in the first place; such mats should also be placed in areas that are prone to spills, such as kitchens, bathrooms and dining areas.
- Businesses with tile or highly-polished floors should place anti-skid adhesive tape in areas where foot traffic is known to be highest.
- Establish and follow procedures to deal with spills; ensure spills are discovered and cleaned up immediately.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a slip-and-fall accident in Southwest Florida, contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.