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.