It only takes one misstep to cause a serious injury. Over 1 million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury each year. Slip and fall accidents commonly cause fractures, head injuries, and spine injuries. They can also be deadly. In fact, a person is more likely to die in a fall accident than they are to be killed by a firearm, a pedestrian accident, or a drowning accident.
Most slip, trip, and fall accidents result from a dangerous condition such as a slick or uneven surface. Many of these accidents can be traced back to a property owner’s or manager’s negligence. When this is the case, injured victims are entitled to seek compensation for losses from the at-fault party. Compensation can include:
- Payment for all past, current, and future medical expenses related to the fall
- Lost income due to the injury
- Reduced earning potential for the future
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Our dedicated Morristown slip and fall lawyers at The Terry Law Firm are here to help you after a serious accident on someone else’s property. As one of East Tennessee’s distinguished personal injury law firms, we offer one-on-one personalized attention from highly experienced lawyers who have a track record of success handling these types of cases. Discuss your slip and fall injuries during a free consultation: Call (423) 586-5800 or send us a message online.
What You Need to Prove in a Slip and Fall Claim
Property owners have a legal duty to prevent slip and fall accidents by being aware of dangerous situations and taking action to keep guests safe. But proving who is responsible for a trip and fall is sometimes difficult. For liability to be proven, one of the following must apply:
- The property owner or his or her employees knew about a dangerous condition that could lead to a slip and fall accident, but they failed to fix it.
- The property owner or his or her employees should have recognized the dangerous condition based on the idea that a “reasonable” person could have recognized the situation as potentially hazardous.
- The property owner or his or her employee was the cause of the dangerous condition and failed to promptly notify patrons.
Not only must you prove that the property owner (or the owner’s agent or employee) was negligent, but you must also prove that you were not primarily responsible for the accident.
Tennessee personal injury law uses a system of comparative fault, which weighs the actions of both parties. Specifically, Tennessee uses the “50 percent rule.” According to this, the person making an injury claim can recover compensation as long as he or she was less than 50 percent responsible for the injury. However, the victim’s recovery will be reduced in proportion to his or her level of fault. For example, if you slip and fall at a department store and are found to be 25 percent at fault, and are awarded $100,000, the award would be reduced by $25,000, to $75,000.
Importantly, a Tennessee slip and fall victim found to be 50 percent or more responsible for the accident may be unable to recover compensation. Actions that may lead to a share of the blame include:
- Engaging in activity that prevented you from noticing the hazard or posted signs, such as talking or texting on a cell phone
- Walking in a location that you did not have lawful access to, or not having a legitimate reason to be in the hazardous area
- Wearing inappropriate footwear, running instead of walking, being intoxicated, or some other careless action
Property owners (and their insurance company and lawyers) will often claim that a slip and fall victim contributed to the injury in some way. This claim may be valid, or it may simply be a way to avoid paying the victim what they are owed.
An experienced slip and fall attorney in Morristown can help to prove your side of the story and work to maximize your claim. If your claim is disputed or denied — or if you have questions about a premises liability claim — The Terry Law Firm is here to help. Speak with an attorney for free now.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
The National Safety Council (NSC) identifies fall injuries as preventable. According to the NSC, the leading causes of slips, trips, and falls include:
- Wet or oily floors
- Weather hazards
- Loose or unanchored mats
- Flooring that lacks the same degree of traction in all areas
- Negligent Premises
- Slip & Falls
- Workplace Accidents
- Defective Products
Failure to Comply with Walkway Safety Standards
The NSC also acknowledges that individuals need to pay attention to their surroundings, walk at a suitable pace for the surface being walked on, and wear appropriate footwear. So how can you prove that a slip and fall injury is primarily the fault of a property owner or property manager, and not your own actions?
One way is to determine whether the business complied with National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) standards. The NFSI is accredited as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards developer for walkway safety. According to the NFSI, 55 percent of slip, trips, and falls are caused by hazardous walkways. Eighty-seven percent of slip and fall claims occur on low- to moderate-traction surfaces, while just 13 percent of claims occur on high-traction floors.
The NFSI has set forth a number of standards that serve as important tools for businesses to measure slip- and trip-related risks. Although these standards are voluntary, a property owner’s choice not to comply with them could be seen as evidence of negligence in a premises liability lawsuit.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that facilities inspect all walking-working surfaces “regularly and as necessary.” An OSHA violation could be used by an injured worker to support taking an injury claim outside of the workers’ compensation system.
Regardless of where the accident occurred, a prompt and thorough investigation is key to determining liability. Our experienced slip and fall attorneys work with experts to evaluate the safety of stairs, handrails, walkways, ramps, and other features. An expert can perform a site inspection, write an incident report, analyze opposing expert reports, and testify on the victim’s behalf.
Slip and Fall Liability for Tennessee Landlords
A Tennessee landlord may be held liable if you — or one of your guests — is injured in a slip and fall accident on the property you rent. The main question of fact is whether the landlord knew — or reasonably should have known — at the time the lease was signed about the unsafe condition that caused the accident.
Imagine that you are walking up the stairs to your apartment when a post supporting the guardrail gives way, causing you to fall backward and suffer a broken arm. To hold the landlord liable, it is necessary to provide evidence that the landlord knew the guardrail was faulty when the lease was signed.
Tennessee landlord-tenant law is a key determinant of liability. Landlords must fulfill certain duties to keep the premises safe, fit, and habitable. This includes following all relevant building and housing codes.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics
The average American walks around 5,000 steps each day. That works out to 35,000 steps each week, 150,000 steps each month, and nearly 2 million steps each year.
Walking isn’t something that most people consider to be dangerous, but the following statistics put into context just how common — and dangerous — slip, trip, and fall accidents are.
- Falls rank in the top three nationwide for both deaths and non-fatal injuries.
- About two-thirds of falls occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces (as opposed to falls from a higher to a lower level).
- An estimated 20 to 30 percent of slip and fall accident victims suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, and head injuries.
- Among the most common slip and fall accident injuries are fractures of the hip, arm, leg, ankle, spine, hand, and pelvis.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients are hospitalized each year for a fall injury, most often due to a head injury or hip fracture.
- Falls are particularly dangerous to people age 65 and older. Around 3 million older Americans are treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries. Many are unable to return home or live independently after a serious fall injury.
- Total medical costs of falls exceed $50 billion to $70 billion annually.
- The lifetime odds of dying from a fall (1 in 127) are only slightly lower than dying from a motor vehicle crash (1 in 114).
The numbers don’t lie. Slips, trips, and fall accidents are prevalent and costly. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall, you may require legal assistance to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Let Our Trusted Morristown Slip and Fall Lawyers Help You
The Terry Law Firm is committed to helping slip and fall accident victims pursue the compensation they deserve. Our personal injury practice has a tradition of heartfelt advocacy and client-centered service dating back to 1960. Every member of our firm is wholly committed to helping you maximize the financial compensation and benefits you need to regain control of your life.
Our compassionate Morristown slip and fall attorneys are proud to provide both high-quality legal representation and outstanding customer service.
Please call us today at (423) 586-5800 to discuss your slip and fall accident with a caring and knowledgeable attorney. This initial consultation is free, and you only pay us if we recover money for you. Schedule a consultation now.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Important Facts About Falls
- National Safety Council:
- EHS Today:
- National Floor Safety Institute: Slip & Fall Quick Facts
- Health: The Surprising Number of Steps Americans Really Take Each Day
- Loss Prevention Magazine: Trips, Slips & Falls: New National Standards Certain to Be a Game Changer