Like most people, you get dressed in the morning, head out of your house, and tend to the day’s chores: work, shopping, shepherding the family to and fro, etc.
It seldom occurs to you — or to any of us — that the next step we take could put us in terrible pain, send us to the hospital, or cause serious injuries.
And yet that is precisely the experience of so many people in Nebraska. Nearly every day, people are injured in slip and fall accidents in our state, and the majority of them could have been prevented had the property owner taken reasonable precautions. According to the CDC, as many as 30% of these people will suffer moderate or severe injuries.
The frightening thing about a slip and fall accident is that it can happen almost anywhere, and at any time. Below, we look at several different types of slip and fall accidents. Understanding how these accidents happen can help you avoid them. We will also talk about your rights after a slip and fall accident in Omaha.
Wet and Slippery Floors
Of all the different types of slip and fall accidents, slippery floors are probably the most widely recognized. But that doesn’t keep them from happening.
Store owners, for example, have a duty to carefully inspect their store floors, mop up spills, and then warn the public about the slippery condition until it dries.
Unfortunately, property owners and store managers do not always live up to that duty. When safety measures lag, innocent people in the public end up injured unfairly.
Common examples of wet and slippery floors leading to a slip and fall accident include:
- Spills in walkways
- Cleaning solutions or soapy suds that have not fully dried
- Leaks from a ceiling, appliance, or product
- Rain, mud, or moisture tracked in from outside (or pooling from umbrellas)
- Naturally slippery surfaces
- Wax coating on floors
Cluttered or Obstructed Walkways
Whether you’re at the gym, the movie theater, or the mall, public spaces should maintain walkways that are clean, clear, unobstructed, and easy to pass through.
Common examples of dangerously cluttered or obstructed walkways include:
- Cords, wires, ropes, string, and other tripping hazards
- Products jutting out into walkways
- Poorly placed equipment, products, or displays
- Dropped or misplaced objects / debris in a walkway
- Items that have fallen from a ceiling, shelf, display, or fixture
- Stores that place too many products or displays on the sales floor, resulting in dangerously narrow or congested walkways
- Businesses that violate the maximum occupancy for their space
Unstable or Uneven Walkways
Just about everyone has tripped or stumbled on an uneven brick before. In a best-case scenario, the only bruise is to your ego. But if the trip is severe enough, you can end up with serious injuries.
In fact, tripping on uneven walkways is one of the most common types of slip and fall accidents. Typical causes include:
- Broken, busted, or cracked concrete / bricks / other flooring
- Sudden change in slope or elevation, often without warning signs
- Unexpected steps
- Uneven pavers or sidewalks
- Carpets or rugs that are lumpy, ripped, bunched up, or torn
- Loose floorboards
- Loose or broken tiles
Defective Staircases, Railings, and Ramps
Most of us use stairs every day without pausing to consider how severe a tumble down them would be. In fact, falling down a single set of stairs can be fatal. Slip and fall accidents caused by defective staircases, railings, and ramps are closely associated with serious injury.
Here are a few different types of slip and fall accidents caused by stairway, railing, and ramp issues:
- Loose stair tread
- Broken stairs
- Stairs that are poorly designed, with uneven spaces between them
- Objects on a stairway (e.g. stray toy, dropped shopping bag, etc.)
- Loose or broken handrails
- Defective railing (such as on a hotel balcony)
- Loose carpeting or runners on stairways (or other tripping hazards)
- Uneven or bumpy ramps
Poorly Lit Areas
Generally speaking, commercial property owners have a duty to maintain adequate lighting in public areas. They also have a responsibility to respond to any known slip and fall hazards or previous safety incidents. If you slipped, tripped, or fell in a poorly lit area — whether during the day or night — you may have a claim for compensation against the property owner. These kinds of claims are especially common in:
- Parking garages
- Bars and nightclubs
- Restaurants and cafés
- Movie theaters
- Amusement parks
- Public sidewalks
- Outdoor walkways
- Construction sites
- Arenas, theatres, and entertainment venues
Ice and Snow
Winter weather can cause problems both outdoors and indoors. Depending on the circumstances, property owners (including the government in some cases) are required to take reasonable efforts to prevent injury due to ice, snow, sleet, hail, and freezing rain.
This includes not only accumulated ice or snow but also the runoff and puddles that form as the buildup melts.
Escalators and Elevators
Elevator injuries are relatively rare, but when they happen, they often involve a trip, slip, or fall. When elevators lurch or stop abruptly, they can cause occupants to lose their balance and fall. Poor elevator maintenance is often to blame.
It isn’t uncommon for attorneys to investigate an elevator slip and fall and then learn that the owners or managers had been receiving complaints about dangerous elevator problems for days or months but took no action.
In even more horrifying cases, people suffer catastrophic injury or death after falling down an elevator shaft, often because of poor elevator maintenance or neglect.
Escalator injuries, meanwhile, are more common than elevator injuries (15 times more common, in fact, even though there are far fewer escalators than elevators in the United States).
The very nature of the escalator surface, which changes shape and elevation as it moves, presents a risk of slip, trip, or fall — especially if the escalator is not properly maintained. When falls do happen, the injuries can be devastating, especially if the escalator is in motion at the time.
Similarly, slip and fall accidents on moving walkways (such as those found at airports and amusement parks) can cause serious damages.
Scaffolding and Ladders
When construction workers slip or trip while working at heights (for example, scaffolding or a ladder), the consequences can be life-altering or deadly.
These claims may combine elements of premises liability, product liability, workers’ compensation, and wrongful death law. It’s important to talk with an experienced Omaha slip and fall lawyer.
Different types of slip and fall accidents caused by ladders are seen in non-construction sites too, such as a bookshelf ladder in a bookstore or library, or a bunk-bed ladder in a furniture showroom.
These types of ladders are often shoddily assembled and poorly maintained. Victims in these spaces may have a claim under Nebraska personal injury law as well.
Park and Playground Hazards, Including Indoor Recreation
From benches and sandboxes to the play equipment itself, parks and playgrounds (whether private or public) are rife with the potential for slip and fall accidents — not only for children but also for adults.
The same goes for many modern recreation spaces, including:
- Laser tag
- Escape rooms
- Miniature golf
- Virtual reality gaming (VR)
- Jungle gyms, soft play sets, and fast food playgrounds
- Splash zones / wet zones
- Water parks and amusement parks
- Ropes courses and zip lines
Slip and Fall Accidents Caused by Animal Attacks and/or Assault
When dogs charge or pounce, they often cause the victim to step back or stumble, resulting in a slip and fall. There have even been cases where unsuspecting joggers have stepped backward into oncoming traffic because of a sudden dog attack. Dog owners may be liable for these injuries. An Omaha slip and fall lawyer can help.
Slip and Fall Accident at a Private Residence
While this article has principally focused on the different types of slip and fall accidents that happen in public, these same accidents can unfold in private residences. In that case, the homeowner’s insurance policy may provide coverage for your damages.
Even if the homeowner was a close friend or family member, our Omaha slip and fall lawyers can help you pursue compensation from that person’s insurance company while still working to maintain the relationship.
Schedule a Free Case Review with Our Omaha Slip and Fall Lawyers
At Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C., our goal is to guide our clients toward the best possible outcome in every case, fighting passionately to achieve the largest amount of financial compensation available.
We offer confidential, cost-free, no-obligation case reviews to people who have suffered a slip and fall accident in Omaha or elsewhere in Nebraska.
If you hire us, we will not charge a fee unless we are able to recover compensation for you.
Consultations are available in person or over the phone. To talk to an Omaha slip and fall accident lawyer about your legal options, contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. Time limits do apply to slip and fall claims, so please don’t delay.