What Causes Summer Slip and Fall Accidents?

Summer is the time for having fun and going on vacation. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on many activities, but now, Americans are itching to get away and spend time outdoors. Whether it is swimming, boating, hiking, or just walking outside in a nearby park, exploring new and potentially unfamiliar terrain presents its own set of tripping hazards. Knowing the causes of summer slip and fall accidents can help individuals avoid injury. This is of particular importance to older adults who may be more likely to break bones and suffer additional complications from falling.

Slip and Fall Hazards Unique to Summer

Emergency room visits tend to spike in the beginning of summer when people are finally able do yard work or other fun activities that they could not do during the winter. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, falls are among the top 12 causes of summer emergency room visits. As summer approaches, it is important to keep in mind where slip and fall accidents are most likely to occur during the hot weather. They include the following:

  • Swimming pools and lakes
  • Waterparks
  • Boats
  • Hiking trails

Summer footwear can also be a contributing factor in a slip and fall accident. Although injuries tend to be more serious when falling from heights greater than six feet, any type of slip and fall accident can land someone in the emergency room.

Swimming Pools and Lakes

There are multiple slip and fall hazards associated with swimming pools. Pool aprons and other surfaces near the pool are usually wet. Slipping on a cement pool apron can cause serious injury, while falling into the pool creates the risk of drowning. Sudden summer storms can also make surfaces very slippery. Diving boards can be slick if they are older and worn down, or not made of the right material.

In addition to the areas immediately surrounding a pool, the floors of bathrooms and snack bars can be hazardous when patrons track in water or spill suntan lotion. If surfaces are not cleaned regularly, mold or algae can make the situation even more dangerous.

Outdoor lakes may have wooden landings or docks subject to dry rot. This condition is caused by fungus that grows in moist conditions, penetrating deep into the wood. This can damage the structure’s integrity, potentially causing it to give way and collapse, causing a fall. To reduce one’s risk of slipping and falling around swimming areas, walk slowly on pool aprons or lake docks. When wearing shoes or swim socks, make sure they have traction.

Waterparks

Slippery surfaces abound in a waterpark. At the same time, waterpark owners are responsible for making sure their facilities are as safe as possible. This includes regular cleaning to prohibit the growth of mold and mildew. Water-borne pathogens can quickly grow if surfaces are not sanitized properly. Waterpark owners are also responsible for installing non-slip surfaces to prevent falls. Waterparks should include adequate signage warning guests of slipping hazards and advise them of safety procedures.

Boats

When on a boat, it may be impossible to avoid wet surfaces and unpredictable rocking due to waves. Slipping and falling is definitely a risk, whether on a large yacht or a small fishing charter. However, boats should include safety features, such as hand railings and non-slip flooring to help reduce the likelihood of injury. Boat owners who fail to include or maintain these types of features could potentially be held liable if passengers or crew slip and suffer serious harm. Other potential acts of negligence on a boat may include the following:

  • Allowing too many passengers to board the boat
  • Failing to instruct passengers about the safety features of the boat
  • Failing to warn passengers about risks of overcrowding on the bow or the sides
  • Taking passengers out on rough seas

If an individual is injured on a boat, notify the captain immediately. It is the captain’s responsibility to make sure first aid is available and to call for medical help if needed. If possible, take photos of the accident area, including any signage. Note the time and the weather conditions as well. This will be especially important if an individual chooses to file a personal injury claim in the future. Because it is not unusual for passengers on a fishing charter or sightseeing yacht to be consuming alcohol, an insurance company may assume that drinking played a factor in the accident. If patrons are fairly far out at sea and injuries warrant evacuation by helicopter, bear in mind that this costs thousands of dollars and may not be covered by a health insurance plan. Filing a personal injury claim may allow an individual to obtain compensation for that expense.

Hiking Trails

There are many beautiful hiking trails within a few hours’ drive of northern and central New Jersey, including the Appalachian Trail and numerous state and county parks. The hiking terrain can be challenging, with steep inclines that traverse rocks and paths with protruding tree roots and downed branches. Tripping hazards abound in the woods, especially after a rainstorm. To reduce the risk of slipping and falling on the trail, always wear sturdy, well-fitting hiking shoes with comfortable socks. A good set of hiking poles can make all the difference, especially when going up and down hills. Take along a first-aid kit that includes an elastic bandage, as well as other typical medical supplies.

Summer Footwear

As comfortable and casual as flip flops may appear, they are not sturdy. Flip-flops and sandals are much less secure and lack traction. If an individual slips and falls while wearing summer footwear, it may be viewed as a contributing factor to the injury, potentially putting them at a disadvantage in filing a personal injury claim.

Types of Injuries Caused by Summer Slip and Fall Accidents

Most slip and fall injuries involve slipping backward or forward. If one falls forward, they are more likely to attempt to brace a fall with their hands, thereby injuring the wrists or arms. Broken arms, as well as shoulder injuries, cuts, and bruises, are common when falling forward. Falling backward may cause more serious injuries, including the following:

  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Neck injuries

Serious injuries such as these may happen in the summer around swimming pools. Twisting while falling, or falling on one’s side, can cause knee injuries, sprained ankles, and soft tissue injuries. This can easily happen while hiking or when wearing summer footwear.

Liability for a Slip and Fall Injury

It is often difficult to prove that the owner of the premises on which one fell is liable for any injuries. A skilled personal injury lawyer knows how to assess whether a slip and fall case is worth pursuing. To prove liability, a plaintiff must show that a dangerous condition existed on the property and directly caused or contributed to the injury. The plaintiff must also show that the owner of the premises was or should have been aware of the danger but failed to address it. Addressing the danger may include posting warning signs or caution tape in lieu of fixing the problem. In that case, the victim may be responsible for being aware of the danger and acting accordingly. Also, victims who were running on slippery surfaces near pools, engaging in raucous behavior, or texting while walking may be held liable for their own injuries.

When injured in a summer slip and fall accident, reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled attorney can help victims collect and interpret evidence, get in touch with witnesses, evaluate medical bills, and calculate compensation that may be due, including payment for lost wages and pain and suffering.

Freehold Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Obtain Maximum Compensation for Slip and Fall Injuries

If you have been seriously injured in a summer slip and fall accident, you may have a legitimate personal injury claim if the owner of the premises failed to properly maintain the property on which you fell. The Freehold slip and fall accident lawyers at Ellis Law have many years of experience building successful personal injury claims and negotiating with insurers to obtain maximum compensation for clients. For a free consultation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online.

Headquartered in Freehold, New Jersey, we offer virtual consultations at no charge to clients in East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, New Jersey, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.


Slip and Fall Injuries at Resorts and Hotels

Resort and hotel stays are normally events people look forward to, especially when they are planning well-earned vacations. Unfortunately, things do not always turn out as planned, especially when they fall victim to injuries occurring on the premises. Nothing can ruin that coveted time off more than getting hurt, and it can happen to guests who are there for business or pleasure. Although they entrust their safety to these properties, accidents do happen. Categories of accidents at resort and hotel properties include swimming pool drownings, burns, and food poisoning. One of the most common types, however, is a slip and fall accident.

Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Aside from worn carpeting, unfamiliar staircases, and debris, hotels can have additional hazards when there are restaurants and swimming pools. Spilled drinks and other slippery substances can reside in dining areas, and pools always pose additional risks. When the weather is poor, there are even more dangers from icy and snowy roads. Someone could also slip and fall in a shower, elsewhere in their room, or in the parking lot for several reasons.

Hotels are Obligated to Protect Guests

Hotel and resort guests have the right to be safe and secure during their stays. This protection also includes the rest of the grounds, such as the parking lot, banquet hall, meeting rooms, restaurants, restrooms, pool, fitness area, and the shuttle bus. The grounds must be maintained and inspected regularly and kept reasonably safe for the people staying there. Any hazardous conditions must be addressed and fixed quickly, such as cleaning up broken glass or repairing a broken pipe; otherwise the hotel is breaching its duty to guests.

Other ways to prevent slip and fall accidents in hotels include:

  • Keeping elevators, stairs, and parking lots maintained, well-lit, and clear from debris.
  • Ensuring that hotel rooms are maintained, with no slippery surfaces, broken furniture, or loose fixtures.
  • Hiring and training staff appropriately for all parts of the hotel, including restaurants, pools, and other areas.
  • Although most hotels are not required to have their own lifeguards at their pools, they must post rules and warnings. They are also responsible for keeping these areas safe, clean, and well maintained.
  • If there is construction going on or any other unusual circumstances, proper safety protocol must be followed. This includes warning signs and prohibiting entry into certain areas.

What to Do After a Slip and Fall

Slip and fall injuries can range from cuts and bruises to broken bones and head injuries, and it may be necessary to call 911 right away. Victims should alert staff about any injuries, and they may be subsequently asked to complete an official accident report. When filling this out, it is essential to stick to the facts. Obtaining contact information from employees who are present at the scene is also helpful, and victims should document any medical attention received from staff members.

Recording any evidence at the scene can also help a slip and fall case. Either victims, family members, or friends can take pictures of where the slip and fall occurred, noting lack of warning signs, glass on the floor, or debris in the area. If anyone witnessed the accident, they should be questioned as well. Afterwards, victims should keep all information pertaining to their medical treatment, expenses, follow-up care, and time missed from work carefully organized.

Understanding Premises Liability

Hotel and resort property owners are subject to premises liability laws, which hold owners responsible for maintaining safe environments for their guests and make the owners responsible when accidents and injuries occur on their properties. When someone does slip and fall, liability is not immediately assumed, and state laws apply. Responsibility depends on certain factors, including the property’s condition and the visitor’s and owner’s actions.

A general standard of care to exercise reasonable safety applies to hotel guests and property owners, unless the person is trespassing. This standard applies to how the property was used, and the predictability of the accident that occurred. The court will also discern the reasonableness of the owner attempting to correct the hazard, why the guest was on the property, and the area where the accident happened. They will also consider whether the dangerous condition was obvious, and if the employees and property owner had control over the situation.

Certain states categorize slip and fall victims when determining premises liability. These include invitees or customers, social guests or welcome visitors, licensees, and trespassers. Non-guests and trespassers who enter public properties have limited protections, and hotel guests are considered invitees. Special rules may apply if the injured person is a child, as children are less likely to realize dangerous situations. Both property owners and caregivers have a responsibility to protect this younger population from property hazards.

Proving Liability

To prove that a hotel breached its duty, injured guests need to show that there was negligence involved. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant should have known that their actions may have led to the injury. For example, if a waiter spilled grease on the dining room floor but the manager neglected to address this obvious safety hazard, the hotel could be held liable if a guest slipped and fell. The injured guest also needs to show that their injuries are a direct result of the slip and fall. Attempting to show a link between an old football injury and a recent slip and fall is ill-advised.

Shared Liability

In slip and fall cases, hotel and resort owners will likely attempt to show that the plaintiff was at least partially liable for the accident. Hotel guests have a duty to exercise reasonable care for their safety, so if they neglect to do so, they may be found partly responsible for their own injuries. Hotel property owners may argue that the hazardous area was clearly marked and should have been apparent to the hotel guest. They may also claim that the guest was wearing inappropriate footwear or was simply not paying attention to where they were going. Most states in the U.S., including New Jersey, follow a comparative fault system in premises liability lawsuits.

How New Jersey’s Comparative Fault System Works

In New Jersey hotel and resort slip and fall cases, the courts assign a percentage of liability to the injured party and property owner. If the plaintiff’s percentage is more than 50 percent, they may not be eligible to receive compensation. If it is less than this amount, they can still be entitled to damages, but this may be reduced. The hotel owner’s insurance company will want to protect their interests and may try to prove shared liability. This is the main reason why it is important for victims to gather evidence and keep accurate records of what happened.

Damages for Slip and Fall Cases

Hotel and resort guests injured in slip and fall accidents may be eligible for damages, or money awarded for compensation. This can include lost wages, short and long-term medical expenses, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. Damages awarded can be significant, with some plaintiffs being awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, they receive additional compensation if there are complications from the injury that become apparent later.

It is also important to know that most states have statutes of limitations that apply to eligibility for slip and fall injury claims. In New Jersey, plaintiffs have two years to file cases of this nature. Plaintiffs who wish to file suits relating to property damage that occurred from a slip and fall accident have up to six years to do so.

Freehold Slip and Fall Lawyers at Ellis Law Provide Effective Legal Representation for Injured Hotel and Resort Guests

If you or someone you care for was injured in a hotel or resort slip and fall accident, an experienced Freehold slip and fall lawyer at Ellis Law is ready to help. We will analyze all the facts and help determine if your hotel or resort neglected their duty to keep you safe. For a free case evaluation, complete our online form or call us at 732-308-0200. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.


What Should I Know About Slip and Fall Claims?

Slip and falls are a common type of accident people experience every day.  Unfortunately, when an individual slips and falls under the wrong conditions and suffers significant injuries, this ordinary occurrence can change their life forever. Understanding the basics of slip and fall claims can help injured individuals recognize when they may be entitled to compensation for these types of injuries.

Slip and fall claims result when businesses fail to take simple actions to prevent accidents. Common examples of preventable slip and fall causes include wet flooring, improperly lit walkways, worn out carpeting, and improper transitions between floor surfaces, such as going from tile to carpet. Courts will determine whether a property or business owner acted reasonably to determine if their actions caused or contributed to the slip and fall. If it is reasonable that the owner should have known about the unsafe condition and did nothing to address the situation, the owner can face liability for the resulting injuries.

High Risk Areas

Any place with a high level of pedestrian foot traffic poses an increased risk for a slip and fall accident. Hospitality locations, such as hotels and resorts, are frequent sites of slip and fall accidents. Businesses open to the public, including retail stores, restaurants, and medical facilities, are other locations where slip and fall accidents frequently take place.

Document Everything for Your Case

Injured individuals can take certain steps to help preserve their right to bring a legal claim later. Some of the important information to document includes:

  • Physical injuries
  • Location of the accident
  • Names and telephone numbers of witnesses
  • Condition of the area immediately prior to and after the slip and fall
  • Types of shoes worn by the injured individual
  • Any statements made by employees of the business

The above information should be recorded through writing and photographs or videos when possible. If the location has video surveillance, such videos become important pieces of evidence. If an incident or police report is made following the accident, injured individuals should request their own copy for future reference.

Filing a Slip and Fall Claim

Individuals injured in slip and fall accidents have a legal right to seek compensation for their injuries. Holding reckless or careless parties responsible for the injuries they caused is important. Property owners and businesses who lease office space often share liability in these cases. The first step in filing a slip and fall claim in civil court is to contact an experienced slip and fall lawyer who can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Freehold Slip and Fall Lawyers at Ellis Law Protect the Rights of Slip and Fall Victims

If you or your loved one suffered injuries resulting from a slip and fall on public property, compensation may be available to help pay for the costs of medical treatment and lost wages. The experienced Freehold slip and fall lawyers at Ellis Law will protect your rights to bring a slip and fall claim against all responsible parties. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online.

Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.