New York Trip and Fall Accident Attorney
A trip and fall incident made its way to the New York State Supreme Court in the case of Plaintiff Fedra Panagos v. Brooklyn Botanic Garden Corporation. The plaintiff was represented by Finz & Finz, P.C. Ms. Panagos suffered a series of fractured bones when she tripped and fell on steps located at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, alleging she fell due to a change of elevation of the steps in a certain portion of the botanic gardens, and adding the steps were negligently designed, constructed and maintained. Is this an isolated case? Records and reports show that trip and fall accidents and injuries happen all the time.
Many of us have fallen at one time or another over the course of our lives. Many times the fall results in nothing more than a bruised knee or ego. As lucky as we are to come away with no injuries most of the time, reports indicate that injury resulting from slips and trips are the leading causes of death of those ages 65 and older. Trip and fall accidents are one of the most common—and devastating—type of accident. A trip and fall accident occurs when a foreign object blocks, hinders or obstructs a walking path, or the walking structure itself is dangerous and defective, and is distinguished from the more common “slip and fall” accident, which is caused by loss of footing. Trip and fall accidents generally occur when someone has been negligent about placing objects in the proper location, or fails to install safety features in and around the home, workplace and place of business, thereby creating a hazard causing someone else to trip or fall.
Slightly different from slipping, which is when the foot is compromised by snow, ice, water, grease or other substance on the walking surface, a trip happens when the foot hits an object that causes one to lose balance or that a walking surface is not clearly defined causing optical confusion. Slips cause a person to fall backward; trips are more likely to cause someone to fall forward. Either way, a disastrous injury could result no matter how you look at it.
Who is at Fault in a Trip and Fall Accident and Injury Case?
Many of us have been walking for years, and we know that if we do not pay attention, we could fall or run into something. We don’t often think that we will trip over something, especially when we know the area and surroundings better than anyone else. When visiting someone’s home or a public venue like a convention center, zoo, theater or park, we trust that those owning the property have taken the proper care to ensure that items and debris are out of the way in normal walking areas, and that all steps, stair and walkways have been properly maintained. Today, however, as many of us well know, the world is full of distractions that surround us in our cars, in our offices, in our homes, and on sidewalk and walkways.
Court proceedings are lengthy in trip and fall cases, such as the Supreme Court case cited above. Factors that come into play and that will be investigated by officials and scrutinized by a competent New York attorney include the following:
- Were steps and stairs readily visible without the need for obvious lighting?
- Was lighting installed, but proved to be faulty or not activated?
- Were warning signs installed to indicate a change in elevation?
- Was a ramp added to make the steps or stairs ADA compliant?
- Was there debris along the ground that could have impeded the areas where someone would walk?
- Were there cracks in the sidewalk, roadway, steps or stairs that could have been repaired?
- Was there failure to demarcate the edges of steps?
- Did the steps create a situation of optical confusion which, although precautions may have been taken, could prove to be hazardous under certain conditions? Often a step or stair areas, if to wide or too deep, can create a sense of “optical confusion” – the illusion of a flat surface obscuring the step.
A property owner has a reasonable duty to maintain property in a safe condition to visitors, and will argue about areas being regularly maintained, and not proposing a hazard or dangerous condition to those visiting. Only medical reports, site investigation and personal injury claims will unravel the details of the accident.
Common Locations for Trips and Falls
Trips and falls can occur most anywhere we walk—in office buildings, shopping malls, at a friend’s home, in our own offices—and the reasons for these types of accident are varied. Some of the more common areas where people trip include:
- Doorjambs—going into or out of a room or entrance/exit in a house or building
- Uneven steps, stairs and surfaces
- Cluttered hallways and entryways
- Carpet that has bunched up and may not be obviously visible due to rug color or texture
- Bunched floor mats that never becomes straightened
- Uncovered cables from equipment and appliances
- Bottom drawers and cabinets not being closed
Prevention for Trip and Fall Accidents and Injuries
Prevention of trip and fall accidents and injuries takes very little to accomplish and can easily result in prevention of a life-threatening injury. A few extra seconds to make sure all is in order can make all the difference between the morning starting off well, or the day resulting in tragedy. Some of the ways to prevent a trip and fall injury are to:
- Pay attention in areas where trips are likely to occur.
- Pay attention when you are walking, partially in unknown areas.
- Provide floor plugs for equipment and appliances so that cords are not dragged across the carpet or floor.
- Realign or stretch carpet that can be worn and become gathered over time.
- Provide adequate lighting in areas that might be prone to darkness.
- Do your part to create a trip-free work environment when on the job.
- Change or modify a walking surface by recoating or resurfacing.
- Put items away when you get home from work or shopping instead of leaving them clustered in hallways and doorways.
- Use a flashlight if necessary, no matter how familiar you may be with the area.
Trips and falls can lead to a substantial toll when it comes to personal injury, suffering, worker’s compensation and legal action. The 2013 Library Mutual Workplace Safety Index indicated that “..falls on the same level were the second leading cause of all workplace injuries in 2013.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, has maintained a walking work source Standard General Report and set forth guidelines to promote a safe work environment that includes training and tips on preventing trip and fall injuries and accidents.
Legal Help for A Trip and Fall Injury or Accident
Like any injury, a trip and fall accident means seeking medical attention as soon as possible. Trip and fall accidents can cause serious orthopedic injuries and also can result in serious injury to the face, head, neck or back . Alerting officials of the property that there is a hazardous area will allow investigation and hopefully prevent injury to others. Make sure that an accident report is filed at the time of the incident, and witnesses should be gathered if there were any around who witnessed the fall and/or the condition that caused the fall. Documentation and reports can help substantiate a personal injury trip and fall lawsuit, and your attorney will want to review and have these documents readily available.
If you, a family member, friend or loved on have suffered injury from a trip and fall accident, an experienced and proven New York Trip and Fall attorney should handle your case. The team at Finz & Finz, P.C., invite you to submit a Free Trip and Fall Case Evaluation or call at (855) TOP-FIRM to start the process of compensation and closure.