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Articles Posted in Slip and Fall Accidents

Since 2010, property owners in MA can be legally responsible for damages and injuries caused by a failure to remove snow and ice. The 2010 ruling replaced 125 years of legal precedent. Previously, owners were not liable for removing “natural accumulation” of snow and ice. But today’s landlords are legally obligated to treat snow and ice as a dangerous condition. Failing to do so could result in a personal injury lawsuit.

So, How Often Does a Landlord Have to Shovel Snow or Remove Ice?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. In Boston, businesses have three hours and private residences have six hours to remove snow and ice. In Worcester, however, property owners have 12 hours. To be safe, snow and ice should be removed early and often. While it is not necessary to shovel every hour during an ongoing blizzard, doing so every few hours is a good idea. Once the snowfall has stopped, it is important for the property owner to ensure that snow is removed as quickly as possible.

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common, and costly, workplace accidents. About $70 billion is spent annually on compensation and medical costs related to on-the-job slip and fall accidents. But people don’t only fall at work. Each year, fifty percent of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by falls. Slip and fall accidents in stores, parking lots, and stairwells also occur with surprising frequency.

As one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries and accidental death, falls also lead to quite a few personal injury lawsuits. Below are some recent slip and fall cases that resulted in substantial awards for the injury victims. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

 

  • Earlier this month, an Alabama man who tripped over a pallet and fell while shopping in a Walmart was awarded $7.5 million for his injuries, which included a shattered hip. Although slip and fall lawsuits often settle for large sums of money, an award of more than seven million is rare. In this particular case, however, footage from the security camera revealed that many shoppers had tripped over the same pallet.

 

  • Xiaolei Zeng was recently injured in a Virginia Ikea store when a stack of countertops fell on her, crushing her pelvis. According to doctors, Zeng will experience chronic pain as a result of her injuries. A jury awarded her $3.2 million. A Boston slip and fall accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

  • George Wallace, a Las Vegas comedian, sustained serious injuries in a slip and fall accident at the Bellagio. The casino was found liable for the faulty wiring job that tripped Wallace, resulting in permanent tendon damage. The jury awarded Wallace $1.3 million for his injuries and lost income.

 

  • Earlier this year, Bill Waite tripped on an unmarked step along a sidewalk, striking his head on a chair. Waite, who was left blind by the accident, was awarded $4 million in damages.

 

  • Colorado trucker, Holly Avery, slipped on a grease spill at a Walmart loading dock earlier this year. As a result, Avery suffered debilitating injuries to her back. Walmart denied the spill existed only to later find that an investigation into a grease spill at the site was noted in city records. In this case, Walmart had to pay even more than in the pallet case above. Avery received $10 million in damages.

 

  • Lorna Bernhoft, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, was paralyzed when she fell through a fourth floor skylight in an off-campus residence. Bernhoft settled with the building’s owners for $11.6 million.

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In November 2013, Suzanne Barnum was injured when she tripped over a pallet jack in a Home Depot store in Joliet, Illinois. As a result, she is suing both Home Depot and an outside vendor for her injuries. In this particular case, the question of who left the pallet jack in the aisle has been difficult to answer. At the time of the incident, employees of Glenn Walters Nursery were in the store, and may have been assisting with the pallet jack. However, both nursery employees and Home Depot employees deny that they were responsible for leaving the pallet jack unattended. According to evidence, it could have been an employee of either company.

The home improvement retailer requested that Barnum’s injury and liability claims be dismissed, arguing that they are “based on speculation and, therefore, have not created a genuine issue of material fact showing that either defendant breached its duty of ordinary care to plaintiff.”   Both Home Depot and Glenn Walters Nursery requested summary judgment, which is appropriate when a plaintiff fails to prove key elements of his or her claim.

“More Likely than Not”

Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox denied the request for a summary judgment, writing that: “In this case, the court finds that plaintiff has pointed to sufficient evidence in the record from which it can be inferred that either defendant was more likely than not to have left the pallet jack in the aisle of the garden center.”

The home goods giant and the local nursery have cited Piotrowski v. Menard in their arguments. In the Piotrowski case, a customer tripped over planter stones that had spilled onto a walkway at a Menard’s store. However, the stones could have ended up on the walkway for a number of reasons, including simply rolling out of the nearby planter, or that a customer or child moved them. In Barnum’s case, however, the explanations as to how the pallet jack ended up in the aisle are limited. Customers are not allowed to use or move pallet jacks, so the chance of anyone other than an employee or vendor being involved is slim to none.

Witness statements suggest that an employee from either company could have left the pallet jack in the aisle. There is evidence that nursery employees used it that morning, but also that a Home Depot employee helped them. Both continue to deny responsibility. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

“Glenn Walters Nursery’s internal communications suggest that it was a Home Depot employee, which is sufficient evidence to infer that it was more likely than not Home Depot that was responsible for leaving the pallet jack in the aisle, thereby defeating its motion for summary judgment,” wrote Cox. However, such evidence doesn’t exonerate nursery employees. As such, Glenn Walters’ request for summary judgment was also denied.  Continue reading

Jesus Sanchez is suing Home Depot for injuries he sustained in a slip and fall accident in one of the store’s Florida locations. Sanchez claims he suffered damages due to the store’s failure to provide a safe environment. According to his claim, Sanchez was injured when he tripped on plastic wrapping left on the floor of one of the aisles. The defendant allegedly failed to provide adequate warning of a dangerous condition in one of the aisles, and to resolve the dangerous condition in a timely manner.

Store Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents

In order to determine whether a store is liable for your slip and fall injury, several factors must be considered. Did a dangerous condition exist? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord know about the dangerous condition? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord make a reasonable attempt to remedy the dangerous condition? Did you suffer damages? All of these questions will be addressed in a slip and fall case.

Take the above case for example. If a store manager knew about the plastic wrap on the floor but decided to take her lunch break before removing it, Sanchez’s injury claim may be successful. However, if the plastic wrap had been left on the floor because an employee was responding to an urgent situation in another aisle, and it had only been there for two or three minutes, Sanchez isn’t likely to receive a substantial award for his damages.

Slip and fall accidents in stores are commonly caused by spilled liquids or slippery substances, debris in aisles, uneven pavement or walkways, and icy or snowy walkways. Stores have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions at all times. When an unsafe condition in a store results in injury, the plaintiff may be compensated. However, whether he is compensated, and how much he is compensated, is largely dependent on the unique details of the case. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Slip and Fall Accident Statistics

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Anyone can be injured in a slip and fall accident, but who is most at risk? And where are slip and fall accidents most likely to occur?

  • Approximately one million Americans are injured in a slip and fall accident annually.
  • Among older Americans, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • About 65 percent of all slip and fall accidents occur on same-level walking surfaces, not from higher levels.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death among people between the ages of 65 and 84.
  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for people aged 85 years and older.
  • Annually, more than 60 percent of nursing home residents fall.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims arise from workers falling on slick or slippery floors.
  • In the U.S. alone, fall-related injuries are estimated to cost up to $14 million annually.

A MA slip and fall lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, should you file a personal injury claim? And if so, who should you file the claim against? The following article will help you determine if you have a successful slip and fall case, and how to proceed if you do.

Was the Store Negligent?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, step one is to determine if negligence played a role in your accident. Simply falling in a store doesn’t mean the store owners or managers are at fault. Tripping over your untied shoe laces, for example, wouldn’t justify a personal injury claim. But what if you slipped on a slippery substance that hadn’t been cleaned up? Well, it depends…

In the “slippery substance” scenario above, negligence may be a factor. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Scenario A: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who immediately runs to the storage room to get a mop and a “Wet Floor” sign. In the moments before the store employee can get back to the spill, an elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs. No sooner has she slipped than the store employee returns with the mop and sign. He sees the woman on the ground and immediately calls for help.
  • Scenario B: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who says she’ll clean it up. But the store employee is on her cell phone, discussing plans for that night. Although she intends to clean up the spill, she forgets. The spill remains, untouched, for over an hour. An elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs.

In both scenarios above, the elderly woman may be able to file an injury claim based on negligence. However, proving negligence in scenario A may be difficult. In both scenarios, the woman slipped on a spilled substance that hadn’t been cleaned up. However, in scenario A, the store employee was doing everything in his power too quickly and effectively clean up the spill. In scenario B, the store employee prioritized a personal phone call over the safety of store customers. Continue reading

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), slip and fall accidents are the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2014 alone, nearly 32,000 people died from injuries sustained in a fall. Although slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of workers’ compensation claims, they are even more common in the home or community. Read on for more information about slip and fall accidents at home and in the workplace, and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.

  • Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related fatalities in individuals between the ages of 65 and 84, and the leading cause for those 85 and older.
  • Most fall-related injuries occur at ground level.
  • More than 60 percent of nursing home residents are injured in a fall-related accident annually.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims cite slipping on slick floors as the cause of injury.
  • Nearly one-quarter of all slip and fall accidents result in at least one month off work.
  • Total costs for workplace slip and fall accidents reach about $70 billion annually.

How to Avoid a Slip and Fall Accident

The risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident rises with age, and is most likely to occur in the home or community. But workplace slip and fall accidents can also be fatal (nearly 600 deaths and 47,000 injuries in 2013). The tips below can help you dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a slip and fall accident. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

  • Clean spills immediately.
  • Wait until freshly mopped floors have dried completely.
  • Walking paths should be clear of all electrical cords, boxes, books, toys, and other clutter.
  • Avoid using small throw rugs. If you must use them, apply non-skid adhesives to the underside.
  • Frequently used items should be stored in easy to reach areas.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Furniture should be arranged so as to provide open pathways for walking.
  • Drawers and cabinet doors should be kept closed.
  • Install handrails on staircases.
  • Install gates at top and bottom of staircases if you have little ones.
  • All walking pathways – indoors and outdoors – should be well lit at all times.
  • Check outdoor walkways for damages. Repair as needed.
  • Never stand on a chair or table to reach something.
  • When using a ladder, maintain at least three points of contact at all times (i.e. one foot and two hands or one hand and two feet).
  • A ladder should always be placed on a stable surface.
  • When climbing down a ladder, step one rung at a time.
  • Never lean or overreach when on a ladder.

A MA slip and fall attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If another’s negligence has caused you harm, you may wish to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person(s), business, or entity. Although any type of accident can result in a personal injury claim, certain accidents account for more claims than others. By hiring a skilled Boston injury attorney, you may be able to recover damages for everything from medical expenses to pain and suffering. The accidents that account for the most personal injury claims include:

 

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Crashes and collisions take center stage when it comes to personal injury claims. Nearly 1.3 million people are killed in car crashes annually; that’s an average of 3,287 deaths per day. And up to 50 million are injured or disabled.

 

  • Motorcycle accidents: Thousands of people are killed in motorcycle accidents in the US annually. In fact, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of other motor vehicles. Dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death by always wearing a helmet, maintaining a safe speed when riding, and taking rider safety courses. A MA motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured.

 

  • Bicycle accidents: As the warmer weather finally makes an appearance in New England, we are beginning to see more bicyclists on the road. This is a good thing – cycling is a healthy, economical, and environmentally-sound activity. But cyclists are prone to serious injury and death in a crash involving a motor vehicle. Protect yourself when cycling by avoiding adverse weather conditions, wearing brightly-colored gear, obeying road signs, and always wearing a helmet.

 

  • Slip and fall accidents: A leading cause of personal injury claims, slip and fall accidents can result in broken bones, lacerations, and even traumatic brain injuries. Second only to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths.

 

  • Dog bites: Especially common among young children and the elderly, dog bites can result in permanent scarring. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and reconstructive surgery.

 

  • Medical malpractice: Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but medical malpractice lawsuits can be extraordinarily complex. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help you navigate the process and recover damages if medical negligence has caused you harm.

 

  • Large truck accidents: Also known as 18-wheelers, big rigs, and tractor trailers, large trucks account for thousands of accidents every year. Unfortunately, due to their massive size and weight, accidents involving large trucks are often deadly. In 2015, 3,852 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Only 16 percent of those deaths were truck drivers. A whopping 69 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles.

 

  • Pedestrian accidents: Pedestrians accounted for about 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2013. One-fifth of those fatalities involved hit-and-run drivers.

 

  • Boating accidents: Boating season is soon upon us…this is a favorite time of year for many Bostonians. Unfortunately, negligence, alcohol use, and inexperienced operators often lead to boating accidents, and serious, life-threatening injuries. Use your head – avoid alcohol and speeding, and make sure your boat is equipped with life vests and necessary safety equipment.

 

  • Work-related accidents: Injured on the job? In 2015, a total of 4,836 workers were killed on the job. That’s 93 deaths per week, and 13 per day. Work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation, but you may be entitled to additional compensation if negligence played a role.

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Bill Waite was leaving a York, Pennsylvania shopping center when he tripped over an unmarked step, suffering serious injuries that left him blind. The unmarked step, which was located on an otherwise level walkway, may have resulted in the largest personal injury award in the county’s history. The property owner was found negligent due to the lack of signage alerting customers to the step.

According to the 80-year-old victim’s lawsuit, he had very little functional sight in his right eye before the incident. When he tripped over the step, Waite fell into a chair outside of a tattoo shop, striking his left eye. The accident left him effectively blind. Before the accident, Waite loved to spend time with his family and play golf. Now, Waite says, family gatherings are like “sitting in a dark closet listening to people on the outside.” A MA injury lawyer can help you proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Waite, who was 80 years old when the fall occurred in 2012, declined to comment, saying only that he “wished the incident had never happened and he hoped the money would make life easier for his wife.” The reality is, slip and fall accidents among the elderly are relatively common. In some instances, falls are a result of physical ailments, not property owner negligence. However, the age of the victim doesn’t excuse a property owner from taking responsibility for foreseeable conditions on their property. If a property owner knows about, or should have known about, a dangerous condition, he or she may be liable if someone is injured as a result. Due to the lack of marking on the step that Waite tripped over, the property owner was found negligent.

Slip and Fall Accident Statistics

Slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury lawsuits in the United States today. And they are one of the most dangerous types of accident. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim following a slip and fall accident.

  • More women experience work-related slip and fall accidents than their male counterparts.
  • Falls are the top cause of emergency department visits, accounting for more than eight million ER visits annually.
  • Fractures, which occur in about five percent of falls, are the most common serious injury suffered from slip and fall accidents.
  • Slip and fall accidents are the primary cause of missed work due to work-related injuries.
  • For workers age 55 and over, falls are the leading cause of occupational injury.
  • According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than two million annual slip and fall injuries are a direct result of floors and flooring materials.
  • Falls account for about 50 percent of all accidental deaths that occur in the home.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of fatal injury for people between the ages of 65 and 84, and the leading cause of fatal injury for people age 85 and over.

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Slip and fall accidents are among the most dangerous injury accidents in the United States. In fact, they account for about 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle crashes. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, a Boston injury attorney can help you determine who is liable for your injuries. Any business that openly welcomes the public onto its property has a duty to keep the property reasonably safe at all times. When injuries or property damages occur due to negligence, any number of parties may be liable – the property owner, the store owner, the property manager, or the lessee.

Examples of Injury Awards

Slip and fall accidents that occur on store properties are often the result of spilled liquids, cluttered walkways, poor lighting, or snow and ice accumulation in parking lots and on walkways. The following injury awards provide detailed examples of actual slip and fall accidents and the possible outcomes.

  • A woman injured her knee in a Home Depot parking lot when her shopping cart hit a manhole cover that was submerged in water. Despite Home Depot’s claim that the danger was obvious, the box store was found to be 95 percent at fault. The woman received an injury award of $950,000 from Home Depot.
  • In another case involving Home Depot, a man slipped and fell on an icy walkway leading into the store. The man suffered torn quadriceps as a result. Although Home Depot claimed that the area had been inspected only two hours before the incident, the home renovations giant was ordered to pay more than $159,000 to the man for his injuries.
  • In a third Home Depot slip and fall case, a Pennsylvania woman was awarded more than $44,000 after she slipped on an unknown substance in a Home Depot aisle. Her injuries sent her to the emergency department where she was treated for lower back pain.
  • A woman slipped on ice in a NY Walmart parking lot and was subsequently hit by a sheet of ice that fell from the roof above her. The accident resulted in a severe injury to her left arm. Walmart was ordered to pay the woman $600,000 for her arm injury, which required surgery to repair.
  • A woman injured her spine when an automatic entrance door at a Connecticut Walmart struck her in the back, knocking her to the floor. She was awarded more than $200,000 for her injuries. A MA injury attorney can help you determine if you have a legal claim following a slip and fall accident in a store.
  • While carrying a large package of paper towels, a 54-year old heart surgeon tripped over a trailer hitch in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club. When he fell to the ground, he suffered a severe spinal injury which subsequently ended his career. The surgeon received $3.96 million for his injuries.
  • When a woman slipped on liquid soap in a California Costco store, she shattered her kneecap, suffering partial loss of mobility. When evidence revealed that multiple employees had noticed the spill but failed to clean it up, the woman was awarded $400,000 for pain and suffering and medical expenses.

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If your negligent landlord has caused you physical injury or financial loss, you may be able to sue him or her to recover your losses. However, proving that negligence can be a complicated matter. In some cases, negligence is apparent. For example, if your landlord ignored multiple emails and phone calls about a propane smell in the home and a propane explosion occurred weeks later, proving negligence is likely to be a straightforward process. However, injury and property damage claims are rarely this cut and dried. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine if you have a successful personal injury claim.

Proving Landlord Negligence

If your landlord acted carelessly without regard for the consequences of his or her actions, and you were injured or suffered financial losses as a result, you may have a successful personal injury claim on your hands. When injury or property damage occurs on the property of another, the property owner may be found negligent under premises liability laws. To prove that your landlord’s actions caused your injury or property damage, the following conditions must exist:

  • The landlord owed a duty to you.
  • The landlord breached that duty.
  • The breach of duty caused the injury or property damage, and
  • An injury or property damage occurred.

In personal injury claims against landlords, the most common question is whether or not the landlord actually owed a duty to the injured person. What does that mean, exactly? Basically, a landlord generally has a duty to tenants and their guests. Landlords may even have a duty to the public if the public has access to common areas. The duty owed is generally to maintain the common areas in a safe and habitable condition at all times. For example, hazards such as live wires and broken steps should be remedied as soon as possible, railings should be secure, doors should open and lock properly, and there should be a plan in place for dealing with snow and ice. Consult with a MA injury lawyer if you’ve been harmed due to landlord negligence.

Was Notice Given?

Although remedying these hazards is a landlord’s responsibility, the landlord must have notice of the hazards in order to remove them. For example, if you are renting a house in New York and your landlord lives in California full time, how is she going to know when a formerly-intact step breaks? If you fall down that step and suffer injuries, can you sue? Well, if you never notified your landlord of the problem, your chances of success are limited. However, you may be in luck if you called and emailed your landlord for weeks, offering to pay for a renovation if she deducted it from your rent, but she failed to respond. There are some exceptions to the notice rule, however. For example, if the dangerous conditions were present before you moved in, it is possible that the landlord “should have known about” the conditions. Continue reading