It may not feel like it, given the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing in the DMV, but cold weather is on the way. And with cold weather comes snow, black ice, and slippery conditions.
And with slippery conditions come falls and injuries. If you own your home, you know that it’s your responsibility to ensure that ice and snow are cleared from your sidewalk and driveway, so passersby remain safe. The same goes for business owners. It is their responsibility to not only maintain a safe parking lot and entrance/exit area outside but also to keep the interior of the store dry and safe for both customers and employees.
Slip and Fall Statistics
Some interesting facts from the CDC and the National Safety Council (NSC) courtesy of the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI):
- Total injuries due to falls cost an estimated $13 to 14 million per year in the U.S.
- 85% of worker’s compensation claims are attributed to employees slipping on slick floors (Industrial Safety & Occupational Health Markets 5th edition).
- Falls account for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits each year, the leading cause of ER visits (21.3%).
- Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and are the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 55 years and older.
- According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.
- Compensation and medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents is approximately $70 billion annually (National Safety Council Injury Facts 2003 edition).
As you can see, slip-and-fall injuries affect millions of people and cost even more millions of dollars every year.
Responsibilities of a Business to Maintain Safety During Icy Weather (Including Black Ice)
Most businesses can’t afford to close down during harsh winter weather. So, it’s imperative for them to ensure the safety of employees and customers both outside and inside the building. Outside, common precautions to take against icy, slippery conditions are having parking lots and driveways plowed and salted to prevent icy surfaces. Similarly, walkways and storefronts should be shoveled or cleared out with a snowblower, followed by salt or other melting agents. Additionally, signs warning of slippery surfaces should be placed outside as necessary.
Indoors, businesses must keep floors dry to prevent dangerous falls. Not doing so can have disastrous results for both the business and the injured. One example is Walmart. At a store in Woodstock, Georgia, a woman slipped on a floor mat that was in a puddle of liquid. She suffered a torn rotator cuff and a dislocated shoulder in the fall and sued the retail giant. Walmart offered her $600,000 to cover her injuries, but the case went to trial, where a federal jury awarded the woman $1.4 million. For a company like Walmart, that’s not a significant amount, but for the injured, that verdict was no doubt hugely helpful in covering life-long impairments and associated medical expenses.
To maintain safety for everyone in the store, some simple precautions should be taken. During rainy or icy and snowy weather, floors should be dried on a consistent basis, whether that’s with a fan, a heater, an employee wiping the floors down, and signs warning that floors may be wet. The safety and well-being of everyone inside and outside the business should always be paramount, and whatever precautions are necessary should be taken.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Fall & Injury Accident?
In the event you fall either inside or outside a business, you should treat it similarly to a car accident. If you are injured, call or have someone nearby call 911 and be checked out by an EMT on the scene. Be sure to alert the manager or whoever is in charge of the business of what happened. Then call the seasoned slip-and-fall attorneys at The Lapidus Law Firm because our entire team is committed to making justice work for you.
We’ll gather the details of the incident (including witness statements and camera footage), and if the business was indeed negligent in its safety measures, our experienced attorneys will do everything in our power to secure you a fair, reasonable settlement to compensate for your pain and suffering, medical charges, loss of income and on-going disabilities. Call The Lapidus Law Firm at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 if you experienced a fall on the property of a business, and we’ll set up a free, no-obligation consultation to determine whether you have a case.