When a person visits a home, rental property, or place of business, it is not reasonable to expect them to watch the floor at all times. There are a number of reasons a person might not be capable of looking down at the floor in front of them, including shopping, carrying bags, or simply being distracted by other things.
Very few people always look at the ground while they walk. Relying on visual acuity to navigate an establishment, particularly a business, increases the risk of an accident occurring. Yet many establishments still neglect maintaining even floors.
There are many potential causes of uneven flooring, including:
- Foundation problems
- Improper installation
- Breakdown of materials over time
A good foundation is key to maintaining the long-term integrity of floors. If the foundation cracks or sinks or begins to slope, these breakdowns are often passed through to the carpet, tile, or wood flooring above. In some cases, the changes in the flooring are barely visually perceptible, but even small changes in elevation pose a tripping hazard.
Improper installation is a common cause of uneven flooring. If tiles or wood planks are not properly placed at an even level, the exposed edges are easy to trip over. Failing to maintain level grout between tiles is also a potential issue, as is inconsistent spacing of flooring.
All materials break down over time, but some are significantly more likely to degrade than others. Low quality tile, or residential-quality tile in a commercial location, can break down in just a few years, cracking or wearing down so inconsistently as to have noticeable changes in elevation over just a few feet. When low quality grout is used, it can wear or break down unevenly. Poor carpet can wear thin quickly, and holes in carpet can easily catch a toe and cause a person to trip.
If you or someone you love has suffered a trip and fall accident, and you believe uneven flooring played a role, please consider consulting with an experienced attorney. A qualified lawyer can help evaluate the area, and can help you make your case against the establishment that failed to provide a safe area to walk.