As winter nears, it’s a good time for businesses and other property owners to think about the steps necessary to prevent the types of winter hazards that lead to slip-and-fall accidents. Falls are our country’s third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, according to the National Safety Council.
How to Stay Safe from Slip & Fall Injuries this Winter
Newcomers to the Dallas area might scoff at the idea of winter slip-and-fall hazards. Let us point out that the National Weather Service’s Forecast Office in Dallas/Fort Worth identified 28 days with freezing temperatures here between Nov. 10 and March 6 last winter.
If individual slips, trips, or falls and is injured on your property, you could be sued and required to pay for the injured individual’s medical expenses and income losses while recovering, as well as for his or her pain and suffering.
The personal injury attorneys at Kraft & Associates have been helping slip-and-fall victims in Dallas and surrounding areas recover compensation for more than 45 years. We are here to help fall injury victims deal with the aftermath of fall injuries and regain financially stable lives.
As the National Safety Council says, slip-and-fall accidents are 100% preventable. It will be better for everyone if we can avoid slip-and-fall accidents and injuries in Dallas this winter.
Top Slip-and-Fall Accidents in Cold Weather/Winter
Winter weather can cause snow, ice, and slush to build up on outside surfaces and be tracked into buildings and make surfaces slippery. Slick sidewalks, icy parking lots and wet floors present a slip-and-fall hazard. Coatings of hard-to-see black ice on hard surfaces may go unrecognized and create a hidden fall hazard.
The freeze-thaw cycle of winter can damage outdoor walkways and create tripping hazards, such as by breaking up hardscape surfaces when water seeps into cracks, freezes and expands.
Shorter winter days have more hours of low visibility, increasing the risk of a slip-and-fall accident. Falls can happen on stairs, steps, curbs or other changes in elevation that are poorly lit early or late in the day or in inclement weather.
Falls caused by neglected spills, clutter, debris, and damaged flooring or floor covering can happen any time of year and in any weather.
Workers, customers or any visitor to a business or residence can be injured in a fall at:
- Lobbies and other building entrances
- Corridors and store aisles
- Parking lots and parking garages
- Sidewalks, driveways, patios, courtyards
- Stairs and ramps
- Escalators and elevators
- Breakrooms and kitchens.
To guard against slip-and-fall accidents and potential personal injury claims, property owners should be diligent about cleaning up spill hazards and tracked-in rain, mud, snow, and slush. They should also regularly inspect their premises for hazards and repair damage or remove snow or ice accumulations in a timely manner after winter storms.
How Slip-and-Fall Accident Victims Can Sue Dallas Property Owners
In general, property owners have a legal duty to ensure their buildings and grounds are safe for visitors. When hazards arise, the property owner or someone acting for them should mitigate or repair the unsafe condition in a timely manner or warn visitors of the danger and/or place a barrier around the hazard, if it cannot be fixed right away. The warning must be one that a reasonable person would recognize.
What if the Property owner Neglects Their Responsibility to Pay?
A property owner who neglects this responsibility may be liable for compensating people who fall and sustain injuries because of the property owner’s negligence. A premises liability or slip-and-fall accident claim for compensation would need to show:
- The property owner owed a duty of care to the injured person to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition
- The property owner violated the duty of care by failing to remove or adequately warn about a hazard
- The injury suffered by the plaintiff resulted from the property owner’s negligence.
What If I Was Injured at a Commercial Building?
Commercial property owners have a higher duty to people who have been invited onto the property, such as shoppers at retail stores and business customers. The property owner must make safe or warn about any dangerous conditions that the owner knows about or could have discovered with a reasonable inspection.
Conversely, a property owner has less of a legal duty to a trespasser. If you have entered property without a legal right or permission and been injured, you are unlikely to be able to pursue a personal injury claim. Additionally, the “open and obvious” rule is a defense that claims a reasonable person would have known to avoid an obvious danger, such as an open pit. These rules may apply differently to underage children and individuals with demonstrable intellectual issues.
How to Win Your Slip & Fall Case?
To be successful, a legal claim must show that the accident and injury happened because of a neglected hazard on the property owner’s premises and that monetary compensation paid to the injured party can remedy their injury.
In Texas, this may include damages for:
- Past and future medical care
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional scarring
- Legal costs (in some cases).
Texas Slip-and-Fall Accidents and ‘Comparative Negligence’
Dallas residents who seek compensation for injuries suffered in a slip-and-fall accident will have their claim subjected to the doctrine of comparative negligence or “proportionate responsibility.”
In Texas, an injury victim may not recover damages if his or her percentage of responsibility for the injury is greater than 50%.
The judge or jury will decide the percentage of responsibility for each party in the claim has for the accident. If your responsibility is 50% or less, you may be awarded damages. However, any damages awarded will be reduced according to your share of responsibility for the accident.
For example, if you were looking at your cell phone or carrying packages that obstructed your view when you walked onto a patch of ice or slipped on a wet floor and fell, you will likely bear some portion of the blame for your accident. The defense might argue that, had you been paying attention, you would have seen others avoiding the dangerous area and avoided it yourself, for example.
How Will My Slip & Fall Claim Pay Out?
If you were assigned 25% of the responsibility for the accident, a $100,000 damages award would be reduced to $75,000.
When to Call a Dallas Slip-and-Fall Lawyer
If you have been injured and hospitalized or have lost workdays because of a slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property in the Dallas – Fort Worth area that was not your fault, our team at Kraft & Associates would like to speak to you. A Kraft & Associates slip-and-fall lawyer can review the circumstance of your accident and discuss your legal options at no charge.
Contact us today. Texas has a strict statute of limitations that applies to personal injury claims. Those who are injured in slip-and-fall accidents in Dallas must act quickly to seek compensation for their losses.