Slips and falls as a result of hazardous floor conditions are an issue of major importance to property managers and building owners. OSHA statistics confirm that legal action related to slips and falls have risen by more than 425% since the early 1980. The National Safety Council claims that slips and falls were responsible for over 40,000 accidents in 2003. Obviously, this is a very significant problem for building managers to contend with on a daily basis. It is expensive and yet very often avoidable with the correct matting program.
A classic example of such a claim is highlighted by Doe v. LaSalle Partners, N.J., Middlesex County Super. Ct. Doe, 29, was leaving her office building through the main lobby when she slipped and fell on the lobby floor. Apparently the snowstorm from days past had left water, salt, and sand on the lobby floor. Doe suffered a herniated disk which required a microdiscectomy. Her medical expenses totaled about $35,000.
Doe sued the building owner and maintenance company, claiming they had not:
- Cleaned the floor properly from the lingering water and debris
- Placed an entrance floor mat down to provide traction
- Posted a sign warning of conditions. Although the Defendants pleaded that the Plaintiff had not been watching where she was going, the parties settled the case for $485,000 plus the satisfaction of a $115,000 workers’ compensation lien.
The National Safety Council estimates medical costs and compensation for accident cases related to slips and falls are in excess $70 billion a year. It is the building managers responsibility to take all necessary precautions to minimize the chance of an accident.
Clearly, a property owner or manager is not liable simply because a person slips and falls on the property. The Plaintiff must prove that management was negligent and in some capacity, was at fault. Management can be at fault if they knew or should have known about conditions that would make floors potentially unsafe. In large part, management has a duty to keep their property safe and secure.
A simple solution to address problems of this type is to use high quality entrance matting available from Mat-Tech.