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Winter Slip and Falls: Why Businesses Should Bear Some Responsibility

December 16th, 2020
Gosai Law
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A slip and fall can happen anywhere, anytime. During the winter months, the risks that lead to slip and fall accidents are even greater, due to ice, wind, and other weather-related factors. 

Slip and fall accidents can result in a number of injuries. One could suffer from an injury as minor as an ankle sprain to injuries as severe as a spinal cord injury, broken bone, or even traumatic brain injuries. These types of accidents often occur in commercial areas, and where people traverse in and out of businesses. As such, it’s important to acknowledge the duty of care businesses and other establishments owe to those who frequent said properties. 

In this blog, we will be exploring the repercussions of slip and fall injuries, why businesses should bear responsibility, as well as the factors that could affect your personal injury claim. 

Stop Dismissing Slip and Fall Injuries

It’s easy to undermine the severity of a slip and fall. And although many individuals walk away from these injuries and think nothing of it, there’s merit in seeking help early on. 

Injuries caused by impact – fractures, soft tissue injuries, torn ligaments – may not feel terrible at first. But working in the personal injury space has shown time and time again that serious injuries often take time to manifest. And in a situation where a victim is suffering from the repercussions of an injury, seeking legal advice from the beginning is a good idea. 

What initially feels like a minor injury could worsen for a number of reasons. An injury left untreated will naturally become harder to deal with as time goes on or when trying to return to pre-accident activities, including physically demanding employment or activities with repetitive motion. For these reasons, seeking medical attention immediately is key in taking control of your injuries from the beginning. Furthermore, if you do intend to pursue a claim, a medical professional can also advise as to prognosis, and how long an individual may take to recover from the injury.  A doctor or specialist has the ability to confirm the cause of your injuries as well as the nature of your injuries – both of which are relevant to the outcome of your case. 

How Businesses Display Negligence

Because slip and falls commonly occur in areas where people traverse to and from businesses, as well as other establishments or recreational areas, there is a duty of care owed to those who frequent these areas. 

In general, businesses should be dedicated to the prevention of hazards or other dangerous conditions. Wet floors, for example, should always be indicated with a visible sign. Broken glass or other materials should be cleared immediately or blocked off. Additionally, potholes, broken lighting, and uneven floors should be taken care of to prevent unexpected injuries. 

During the winter months, businesses must take care to employ an effective system for snow and ice removal. This is especially important under changing circumstances; the frequency of maintenance or clearing can increase based on weather conditions, or how many patrons frequent the establishment at a particular time. 

These suggestions may seem like common sense, but certain establishments have additional factors to consider. Certain venues hosting formal events are typically frequented by individuals who dress up; this means high-heeled shoes. Yes, a plaintiff is responsible for their footwear in some capacity, but if an establishment typically draws an elevated dress code, this knowledge should be taken into account. Parking lots, where people may walk to and from in heels and dress shoes, should therefore be cleared. 

Other Factors to Consider

Although slip and falls may seem like a straightforward accident, they are anything but. The truth is, not every slip and fall accident will result in a claim. There are a variety of factors to consider; business establishments have a duty of care to uphold in accordance with the Occupier’s Liability Act and of what is legally required. 

Contributory negligence can sometimes arise during slip and fall claims. It can be argued that the plaintiff did not take appropriate care, if they ought to have known or seen visibly dangerous conditions and that an accident was therefore preventable or avoidable.  

Similarly, the credibility of an individual is called into question if it can be argued that the individual assumed a known risk. Did the individual walk through a blocked off path? Did they trespass? Did they intend to commit some form of criminal acts? These are notable instances that could impact the credibility of a claim. 

Seeking Legal Advice

As one can see, slip and fall accidents are not always black and white. This is precisely why the guidance of a good lawyer is crucial in these situations. 

A lawyer has the ability to view the entire scope of the situation; they gather the necessary documents, evidence, surveillance and testimonies needed to successfully support a claim. For defendants who have fought similar claims in the past, they understand how to frame an argument that could falsely discredit a plaintiff. Having a lawyer present ensures that the blame lands where deserved. 

Furthermore, the standard of care between small businesses and municipalities can greatly differ. Proving gross negligence of a municipality is really difficult, which is why it’s essential to have a lawyer in your corner.   

For slip and fall victims who believe they don’t have a claim and are instead assuming blame, seeking the guidance of a lawyer would be highly beneficial. With slip and fall claims, there are a number of facts to consider. Every case is different, and there are many situations where a plaintiff may be entitled to more than they believe due to the nature of the accident. Day, time, location, weather conditions, and even pedestrian volume all play into each case, which is why there are a variety of factors that may counterbalance assumed contributory negligence. 

What to Do Next?

If you or a loved one has suffered from a slip and fall accident, contact Gosai Law. There are time limits in place from the day of your accident, which is why you must act fast if you do want to file a claim. We’re here to fight on your behalf. 

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