December marks the end of the autumn, but it’s just the beginning for a new kind of fall season. As the weather gets colder, the walking conditions outside get worse and injuries occur. Snow and ice falls on the roads, walkways, sidewalks and parking lots, placing individuals at an increased risk for a slip and fall injury.
Slip & Fall Prevention Tips
Winter slip and fall cases typically happen in public spaces, such as parking lots, sidewalks and stairways. In public, your priority should be using key tips to keep yourself from falling and getting injured.
- Pace yourself. Winter weather usually means ice. When traveling across pavement, always walk instead of running. We recommend using handrails, walls, door handles and other secure objects to stabilize yourself while walking.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Many slip and falls occur simply because people are distracted by what is happening around them. Keeping your phone in your pocket minimizes the rise of walking straight into that patch of ice.
- Keep your hands free. Our arms help stabilize us when we’re about to fall. If you’re walking in perilous conditions, having your arms out gives you a chance to use your arms to break your fall or prevent you from falling altogether. We recommend keeping your hands out of your pockets and avoiding carrying any heavy objects.
- Wear proper shoes. If you are walking in snow and ice, wear shoes with rubber soles to improve your traction. Try a good pair of boots when the weather is bad.
On the other hand, there is also a concern for someone getting injured on your own property and bringing legal action against you. In that case, some safety tips include:
- Maintain adequate lighting on the premises. Whether your property is a parking garage, an office building or a home, adequate lighting allows people to see where they are going and potentially avoid hazards.
- Implement a snow removal plan. Missouri weather is unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for when inclement weather occurs. This includes having a plan for carefully shoveling or snowblowing walking surfaces, salting icy pavement and undertaking other safety precautions, such as placing barriers or warning signs.
- Ensure that gutters and downspouts drain away from walking areas. If the temperatures reach below freezing, standing water will form dangerous icy patches in parking lots and on sidewalks. Check to see where your water drains before the weather gets too cold.
Who is at Fault for a Fall?
While slip and fall laws vary by state, Missouri follows a comparative negligence law. This means that in the case of a slip and fall, the law looks at the actions and omissions of both sides to determine the level of negligence for both parties. If you try your case, any damages the jury awards you are reduced by your level of negligence. For example, if you are awarded $20,000 in damages but you were deemed 30% negligent by the jury, you would only receive 70% of the award or $14,000. Your goal as a slip and fall victim is to minimize negligence assigned to you.
What to Do After a Slip & Fall
After you have slipped and fallen, our personal injury attorneys recommend that you take the following steps to support your well-being:
- Get medical attention. First and foremost, you should make sure that you are okay. Seek medical attention immediately after the incident to identify any potential injuries. While this is the best course of action for your health, it will also provide vital documentation for a later slip and fall case.
- Take pictures of the scene. If you are able, take photos as soon as possible after the incident. These photos will prove the existence of dangerous conditions at the time of your fall. This could mean taking a picture of an ice patch or a construction zone with no signage warning of conditions.
- Talk to witnesses. If possible, identify people who witnessed your fall. These witnesses will have valuable insight into what caused your fall and could possibly play a part in proving your case.
- Solidify your story. Record in as much detail as possible how you fell so that you can accurately report the details to your attorney and pursue action based on the specifics of the case.
- Hire a seasoned personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Hiring an attorney removes any the confusion from the legal process. While you heal from your injury, the attorneys at Casey, Devoti & Brockland are prepared to take on your case and lead you through the complexities of filing a slip and fall case.
As we’ve learned over the years, no two slip and fall cases are the same. We always recommend you first consult a lawyer to determine if you have a viable claim. For more information on Casey, Devoti & Brockland and tips on staying safe this season, visit our personal injury blog.