Chicago is a busy place and people are always on the go. City sidewalks, entry and exit ways to stores, stairwells and elevators and flat walking surfaces all need to be maintained so as not to expose us to dangerous conditions. And with added crowds and commotion comes distractions that prevent us from seeing what might otherwise be an obvious walking condition. While we all need to watch where we’re going, store owners and business operators that invite us onto their property need to follow the law and maintain their establishments to they are safe.
In North America there are over 500,000 people each year that require hospitalization from slip and falls and more than 50 people die each day from falls. It’s the number 1 cause of accidents in the workplace and the number 1 cause of accidents in hotels, restaurants and public buildings AND over 70% of these falls are on flat level walking surfaces. Often times the fall can occur not just from a design or safety defect, but from a foreign substance that made the surface slippery.
Clearly if the slippery substance on the floor was placed there by the negligence of the store or property owner than it should held responsible for its actions. However, very often the slippery conditions were not caused to be on the floor through the actions of the property or store owner as they had nothing to do with the spill itself. But in these instances if the owner knew of the condition and did nothing to correct it or if they should have known of the dangerous condition and didn’t act to correct it than responsibility could be imposed upon them. This is often the case when the substance was present on the floor for such a length of time that the owner should have been aware of it. We can’t put our head in the sand and ignore our responsibility to monitor the conditions on our property.
Where the substance which made the floor slippery is there through no fault of the owner than the person injured must immediately look at the substance and try to figure out (a) what they fell on, (b) how it got there and (c) how long it had been on the floor. Clearly without videotape these facts will be difficult to learn but there may be observations that help you conclude that it was there for a long time. Identifying what the liquid is and where it came from will be key in helping you and your attorney pin point how long this condition may have been present.
Often times spills and leaks are present and the owner will, sometimes too slowly, take steps to clean it up but not block off the area of the spill while items such as mops or cleaning tools are retrieved to remedy the situation. Caution signs and barricades will help protect people from hazards yet are rarely utilized.
If you or family member or friend has fallen, make sure you are discovering what caused you to fall, how long the problem existed before your fall and how the hazard was created. Pictures taken, even with a mobile phone, are critical to documenting these facts. Be a great private detective, even in the face of a serious injury, because it could mean the difference between a successful injury claim and one that’s impossible to prove.