In a previous blog post I discussed the dangers of slips and falls in indoor places and how to use caution to avoid them. However, what happens if you are one of the unlucky ones who are hurt in a bad fall? What should you do? It should go without saying, but if you need medical attention you should seek it immediately, without any delay.

If you fell at a store or some other place of business, you should report the incident to the management or ownership or the location where you fell after you are permitted by your doctors to travel again. This may involve completing an incident report with your version of what happened.

Keep in mind that in New Jersey, the management or ownership of the property where you fell does not have any obligation to provide you with a copy of the incident report, even if you filled it out and signed it. So, before handing in the incident report to an employee of the property where you fell, you should make a copy of the incident report for your records. This can be accomplished by taking a clear photograph of all pages of the incident report with any smart phone or electronic tablet or similar device. In filling out the report, you should clearly explain what happened. You are not under any obligation to complete an incident report, but it can sometimes be helpful later on if you decide to pursue a legal claim for any injuries you suffered as a result of the incident.\

Continue Reading What Should You Do If You Were Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident?

With the cold wintry weather now upon us, it is time to talk about the dangers of slips and falls. Although it is not a fun topic to discuss, it is not something to be ignored. When you go outside in the morning, be sure to stay alert for black ice. Any source of water, from a leaking hose to rainwater dripping from a downspout to a gutter, can quickly freeze and become a slip and fall hazard to anyone in the area.

Always use proper footwear with good tread when you are outside in wintry conditions. If you walk or run outside at night or early in the morning, be sure to wear reflective clothing and use a good source of light. This will help drivers to see you, and the light also will help you to keep a good lookout for ice on the ground. When around your house, make sure there is no water leaking or dripping inside or outside your home. Any outside leaks can freeze overnight and be a hazard to you and others who come onto your property.

For example, I can recall a situation where the fire department had been called to address a water leak that was coming from the garage door on a vacant house. When the fire department arrived, the water had been leaking onto the driveway for some time. The outside temperature was below freezing. The water that had accumulated in the driveway looked like a puddle. As one of the fireman got out of the truck and began walking on the driveway to try to determine the source of the leak, his foot touched the black ice, and he slipped and fell onto the concrete, suffering significant injuries. This accident occurred in the middle of broad daylight. Although the water on the driveway looked like a puddle, it really was dangerous black ice and the fireman was severely injured from the fall.

Continue Reading Be Aware of Winter Weather and Slip and Fall Injuries

Throughout the year many of us will be traveling with family and friends on vacations from work and the everyday grind. Most of us will stay in hotels or rental homes while vacationing. While you should not get bogged down worrying about the possibility of getting into an accident or mishap while on vacation, it’s still worth noting that accidents do happen, and safety should always be a top priority.

In one recent case, a hotel guest slipped and fell on water surrounding an ice vending machine. The injured guest was later diagnosed as having a bulging disk at L5-S1 with facet joint hypertrophy and lumbar strain. This caused persistent low-back pain with radiculopathy. The pain caused the woman to develop an altered gait, which allegedly caused her to slip and fall down the stairs at her boyfriend’s home about two months later, further worsening her injuries. She underwent a series of 17 pain management injections and physical therapy treatment. She continues to suffer pain in her back, which is worse when she walks or stands for long periods of time.

Continue Reading Slips and Falls and Vacations

Fast food restaurants are an American staple. Drive down any major highway in the US and you’re bound to see a sign or advertisement for some fast food chain’s restaurant. Although these restaurants can provide tasty meals at an affordable price, they have also been the subject of many personal injury lawsuits over the years. The McDonald’s “hot coffee” lawsuit is one case that many people think of when the topic of fast food restaurant lawsuits comes up. What many don’t realize, though, is that fast food restaurants have been the subject of personal injury lawsuits for other reasons. For example, these restaurants’ floors are often made of tile, which can create dangerous slip hazards to customers.

In one recent case, a woman and her family went to eat at a local hamburger restaurant. As she was walking back from the bathroom, she slipped and fell on grease that was on the floor. She was diagnosed with a back sprain and a contusion to her left elbow. Unfortunately, despite physical therapy, she developed severe, persistent elbow pain. She was later diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a chronic permanent condition that caused her to suffer electric-shock-like pain, swelling, and burning to her arm. Her past medical expenses totaled about $36,000, and her future medical expenses are estimated to be about $359,400.

She attempted to return to her job, but was unable to remain on a reduced schedule and instead went on temporary disability. Her past lost earnings totaled about $94,600, and her future economic loss is estimated around $1.71 million.

Continue Reading Pedestrian Pitfalls and Other Dangers for the Unwary

A recent article in Insurance Journal lists the top 10 causes of workplace injuries based on 2012 Liberty Mutual claims data for injuries lasting six or more days.

The ranking is based on total workers’ compensation costs but it is interesting to note the leading causes of injuries in this study. If I were to rank the types of injuries/causes of injuries I see most frequently in my own practice, I would have a very similar list. Particularly in the Winter months we see an increase in slip and fall injuries and motor vehicle accidents, but we also see a consistent number of cases where the injuries are based on overexertion. The article points out that the leading cause of injury on the list, overexertion, was typically related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing. Other exertions, which came in at number five, includes injuries due to bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing, stepping, kneeling, sitting, standing or walking.

10 Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries in 2012:

  1. Overexertion
  2. Falls on same level
  3. Struck by object or equipment
  4. Falls to lower level
  5. Other exertions or bodily reactions
  6. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle
  7. Slip or trip without fall
  8. Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects
  9. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks
  10. Struck against object or equipment

At Stark & Stark, our Workers’ Compensation lawyers dedicate their practice to representing injured workers. If you or someone you know is hurt at work, please call our experienced attorneys today for a complimentary, no obligation consultation.

Now that winter is well underway, it is important to remind everyone to be careful not only when walking outside but also to be cautious when walking inside places, especially public buildings.  Ice and snow on a customer’s shoes can easily become a major slip hazard when it gets tracked into a supermarket, retail store, restaurant or other public space.  Snow from someone’s shoes or boots will easily melt on the floor, causing a hazardous condition for others.  Rock salt and various snow-melt substances also have a tendency to be tracked inside and also can cause you to lose traction and slip and fall.  Always be extra careful when walking inside a public space.  The floor could be slick from being freshly mopped or waxed.  A mat or rug put on the floor to soak up the water from people’s shoes can easily become a trip hazard if it bunches or rolls up as people walk over it.  We have all heard of people falling as a result of wet floors, but what about wet carpets?  That also is a hazard, and the consequences can be catastrophic.

One such example of this occurred recently when a woman accompanied her friend to a hospital emergency room.  While at the hospital, the woman walked across a carpeted area.  Unbeknownst to her, a carpet cleaning company had recently sprayed the carpet with a soapy shampoo.  The women then slipped and fell on the adjacent vinyl flooring, striking her head in the fall and suffering life threatening injuries.  The woman sustained suffered an acute subarachnoid hemorrhage, and, as a result, she spent several days in intensive care and was unable to care for herself for several weeks.  She now suffers from lost sense of smell.  Her medical expenses were about $79,000.  The victim sued the custodial contractor who was responsible for shampooing the hospital’s carpets.  She alleged that it failed toe place warning cones near the wet carpet and should have placed towels and mats at the edge of the carpet so that passersby could dry their feet.  The parties settled for $475,000.

So the next time you are going inside any building, make sure to pay attention to what you are walking on and be certain to walk carefully.  Be aware of your surroundings and always be on the lookout for spills, debris, bunched mats or rugs, and other slip or trip hazards on the floor.  If you do see a dangerous condition, report it right away to security and management.  You may want to photograph the condition to document it to management, especially if the management or security is offsite or is unable to immediately inspect or correct the condition.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a trip and fall or slip and fall because of a dangerous condition inside a building, let me know right away.  Here at Stark & Stark we have the experience and resources to make sure your rights are protected.