Slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year and costing nearly $60 billion in economic losses. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls are the leading cause of hospital visits, and falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death in homes and communities, resulting in more than 25,000 fatalities in a given year. Adults aged 65 or older account for four times the number of fall deaths than any other age group. In fact, one out of every three seniors over the age of 65 will experience a fall in their lifetime. And for Americans aged 65 to 84, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death, and also account for 87 percent of all fractures in that age group. The common causes of slip and fall accidents are spills, freshly mopped floors, electrical cords, rugs, lack of handrails, clutter and debris, poor lighting, standing water, and wet or damaged stairs and walkways – often resulting from the negligence of others who have a duty to keep areas safe.
In Colorado, the main question with any slip and fall case is the duty of care owed an injured person. If a person was invited, directly or indirectly, to a commercial property such as a store or a restaurant, the owner, occupant or lessor of that space is responsible for exercising reasonable care to the person, known as an “invitee”. Individuals who enter a property for their own benefit, such as a houseguest to a friend’s home, are known as a “licensee”. A property owner owes a licensee a duty of care to prevent potential foreseeable danger on their property. And in some cases, even trespassers can hold a property owner liable if a known dangerous condition was present at the time the trespasser entered the property.
While taking extra care around hazardous conditions may help you avoid a slip and fall, sometimes a dangerous or unknown condition, such as icy pavement or a discarded beverage on a staircase, can still cause injury, so if you are injured on someone else’s property make sure to follow these important steps to protect your rights:
- In the case of a serious or life-threatening injury, seek immediate medical attention and avoid making any statements that might make it appear that you were at fault
- File an accident report with police or the property owner before you leave the premises and obtain a copy of that report
- Never sign anything without a lawyer present since property or business owners may try to get you to sign a waiver releasing them from any liability
- Take photos of the scene and document any hazardous conditions, such as cracked payment, a torn rug, or other unsafe conditions
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses at the scene
If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident, contact a knowledgeable Colorado personal injury lawyer who can evaluate your case and get the recovery you deserve.