A wet floor is an inherently dangerous condition that can cause an individual to slip and fall, stumble, or fall on the ground, often suffering injuries as a result. The dangers associated with a wet floor seem obvious, but the condition often goes unattended or ignored by a property owner or manager, enabling members of the public to come into contact with these dangerous situations; possibly causing severe injuries to the victim.
In fact, our cultural media, like tv shows and movies, often show slip and falls as funny. But oftentimes, they are anything but. Slip and fall victims can be serious injured as their legs go out from under them and they land on their head, neck, or back. As you can imagine, a slippery floor in a grocery store is no place that you want your head to hit after falling from a height of 5ft or so.
Under the laws of Chicago and of the state of Illinois, property owners have a duty to keep their businesses safe for customers. This extends to owners of residential properties as well, including apartment buildings and condominium complexes. This means that a landlord must take steps to prevent wet floors from occurring and to fix the situation should it arise. Failing to do so may make a landlord liable for any injuries that result to a patron who slips and falls on a wet, dangerous floor.
8 Quick Facts about Slip and Falls
- Slip and fall accidents require more than a million people to go to the ER each year.
- The average cost of a slip and fall caused by snow or ice is $33,000 to $48,000.
- Each year, one-third of all elderly adults in the US will slip and fall.
- Slip and falls are one of the most common reasons that people are injured each year.
- Slip and falls are also the leading cause of a traumatic brain injury, or TBI.
- The medical bills that are created by slip and fall injuries cost Americans more than $34 billion a year.
What Action Must a Business Take to Prevent Wet Floors?
The standards applied to a business to prevent slip and falls may vary depending on:
- the nature of the business,
- the location of the business,
- and the type of consumer served by the business,
but all businesses are required to address slippery or wet floors and to rectify the hazard when they occur or when someone notices the situation.
Buildings with high pedestrian traffic, like office buildings and residential complexes, often must deal with water that is tracked in from the outside. This is prevalent in times of inclement weather like rain, snow, sleet, and hail.
Tracked in water can also be a problem for travelers that use public transportation including buses and trains. Businesses may or may not be liable for an incident that occurs due to tracked in water but all businesses should address the issue by providing anti-skid floors, floor mats, or dryers where appropriate.
A supermarket or grocery store is a type of establishment that experiences a high number of slip and falls, many of which are caused by wet or slippery floors. Regular cleaning of flooring surfaces can present a danger to customers and wet floor signs should always be used by supermarket staff.
Additionally, spilled products on the floor of grocery aisles can cause a distracted or busy shopper to stumble and fall. Spilled liquid products can be the most dangerous, like milk and juice, but other types of food are also hazardous. In fact, many slip and falls occur in the produce section. Produce may fall to the ground and shoppers may step upon the fallen produce, smashing it and letting a slippery surface develop. If the spilled produce is not cleaned up properly, it can cause shoppers to fall and become injured.
Faulty electrical equipment has also led to numerous wet and slippery floors in businesses as the equipment malfunctions. A refrigerator or freezer that does not properly function may leak water which can spread to nearby areas of the floor. Similarly, leaky faucets or toilets in a restroom can create pooling water that may lead to injury for an unsuspecting guest of the building.
Prevention of Wet Floor Injuries
After a fall on a wet floor, a building owner or manager may attempt to blame the victim for the incident, but in many cases, it is not the victim’s fault. It is the responsibility of the building’s owner to maintain a safe environment and failure to do this is often to blame for an accident that causes injuries.
The ideal safety procedures may vary depending on the type of surface involved or the type of business for which the procedures will be used, but they may include the use of a non-slip surface, addition of non-slip treading or tape to flooring already in use, mats or carpeting in high traffic areas, floor drains in areas known for water accumulation, constant monitoring of the floor’s condition for water issues, proper repair and maintenance of electrical equipment, establishing proper procedures and protocols to deal with spills, and the required use of wet floor signs whenever water is present or may present itself in an area.
In some cases, the design of a building or of a specific floor is hazardous and can lead to injuries regardless of the actions of the building’s owner. If an improper design of a floor leads to injury, it may still be the fault of the owner, builder, or designer of the floor and a victim may be entitled to a recovery.
Contact an Experienced Wet Floor Accident and Injury Attorney in Chicago
If you have been injured by a slip-and-fall on a wet or slippery floor, you may be entitled to financial relief for your damages. In many cases, this can include payment for your medical bills, lost wages, and any pain and suffering you endured. After an accident, you should consider speaking with an injury lawyer to learn about your legal rights and whether you may have a valid legal claim.
The lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. only represent accident victims and believe in the rights of victims to obtain adequate financial compensation for their losses. We fight for our clients daily and we offer a free case consultation to all accident victims who call us at (312) 924-7575 or (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442). If you have been a victim of a wet floor accident, do not continue to suffer without relief. Call us and let us help you today.