Kansas City Slip and Fall AccidentsSlip and fall accidents, also known as premises liability, usually involve a landowner, property manager or operator who has ignored or failed to remedy dangerous conditions that result in a personal injury. As property owners, these individuals have a legal duty to ensure that guests, customers and patrons are safe on their premises, and that any publically-traversed areas are free of any conditions which may result in serious injury. Winning a premises liability claim, however, can seem a challenging endeavor at first glance. We must investigate not only the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, but also the safety regulations of the property or establishment that the incident occurred in. Fortunately, our team is well-versed in Missouri’s premises liability laws, and we successfully represent a number of clients each year in slip and fall cases in both Kansas City and across the state. At Wagstaff & Cartmell, we represent our clients with integrity and deal with all legal matters pertaining to their slip and fall case, which allows them focus on what is most important after sustaining a serious injury—rest, recovery and peace of mind. If you or a loved one has been injured on in a slip and fall accident, we are here to help you get back on track and obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
- According to the National Safety Council, “Falls” were listed as the most preventable nonfatal injury in 2016, making up over 9 million (31 percent) of the 29.8 million preventable injuries sustained that year.
- Over 800,000 patients per year are hospitalized due to fall injuries, most often because of a head injury or a broken hip.
- Total medical costs related to falls totaled more than $50 billion in 2015.
- The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000.
- Slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of accidents in hotels, restaurants and public buildings.
- 70 percent of slip and fall accidents occur on flat and level surfaces.
How is Negligence Determined?Like other personal injury cases, determining fault is the first step in building your case. The defendant in a slip and fall accident is typically the party who is legally responsible for protecting guests from unnecessary harm, and proving that their negligence contributed to your injuries is critical to receive full compensation for your injuries. In order to show that negligence contributed to a slip and fall accident, we must prove:
- Whether or not the property own knew about hazardous conditions of their property;
- Whether or not they could have prevented the accident; and
- Whether or not a reasonable person would have tripped and fallen under the circumstances of the incident.
Proving the Extent of InjuriesIn addition to proving negligence we must also prove that a dangerous condition existed, and that this dangerous condition caused your injuries. The key component, however, is proving that the accident could have been prevented. If there was no way that the property owner could have known about the dangerous condition, for example, a lawsuit against the property owner for the sake of recovering damages might become more complicated. In any slip and fall case, causation is proven in three ways:
- There must be a connection between the dangerous condition and the accident that occurred;
- The accident must have caused injury to the individual. There are several common injuries from a slip or trip and fall, including broken bones (arms, hips, etc.), back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s), paralysis or death; and
- There must be a connection between the injuries and the damages suffered by the individual. Damages include items such as lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses occasioned by the injury.
Examples of Unsafe or Dangerous ConditionsProperty owners have a legal obligation to ensure that guests are kept safe and out of unnecessary harm’s way whenever possible. Despite this, there is always a danger of a slip and fall accident should they lapse or fail to perform this duty. Some examples of unsafe or dangerous conditions that can result in serious injury include:
- Wet floors (caused by spills, leaking appliances, recently mopped areas, etc.);
- Uneven surfaces (caused by lifted sidewalks or bricks, unexpected rises or drops);
- Broken or poorly designed and installed stairs, railings or doors;
- Poorly designed or improperly installed ramps;
- Poor or no lighting or security cameras; and
- An unleashed or uncontrolled dog or other animal that bites or attacks.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents?Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere and at any time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 800,000 people each year are hospitalized for a fall injury. Older adults (65+) are at a particularly high risk of being injured in a fall. Slip and falls are often caused by the failure of a homeowner, landlord, or business owner to properly maintain their property. The following conditions are often linked with slip and fall accidents:
- Pavement defects
- Accumulation of snow and ice
- Inadequate lighting
- Broken handrails
- Spilled food or drinks
- Torn, raised, or worn carpeting
- Stray electrical cords and wires
- Holes or depressions in the ground
- Broken or damaged floor tiles
When Can a Property Owner Be Sued for a Fall Accident?In Missouri, property owners have a duty to use reasonable care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. This means that they must use ordinary care to identify and repair dangers on the premises or warn guests and visitors of known dangers if these individuals will not discover the danger themselves or if they will not or cannot protect themselves against the danger. For example, if the steps leading up to a house are broken and crumbling, the homeowner could repair the stairs, or put up caution tape to warn people about the danger. To prove a premises liability case, an injured party (plaintiff) will need to prove that:
- A dangerous condition existed on the premises;
- The party in possession or control of the premises knew or should have known about the dangerous condition;
- The party in possession or control failed to use ordinary care to remove, remedy, or warn of the danger; and
- The plaintiff was injured as a result.