When you imagine a slip and fall accident in any Ontario community, a common scene could be one where a person slips on a puddle of water resulting from a leak in the produce counter at a grocery store. The slip and fall doesn't necessarily have to be one where you slip and go head over heels striking your head on the floor, sidewalk or sharp object. You could experience a single leg slip and fall where you are walking, when one leg slides out from under you either sideways or forward. Even if you catch yourself, this type of fall can produce broken bones in your hand or wrist, torn cartilage and torn ligaments in your knee or lacerations to your foot or shin, if your leg strikes a sharp object like the bottom of the counter itself.
Slipping and falling can be a painful experience that requires an immediate hospital visit to repair broken bones or stitch lacerations. In addition to slipping on a wet surface, there are many other ways a person can fall on another person's property and hurt themselves. In any slip and fall accident, it is imperative to contact an Oakville personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to gather all the relevant evidence for your claim, including immediate assessment of injuries and recording witness accounts.
Slipping on a wet or slippery floor isn't the only type of falling accident that can leave you seriously injured. Another common cause of a fall happens when tripping over another object or due to an imperfection in the surface where you are walking. Tripping can be caused by carpeting that has worn to the point of buckling. When someone trips and falls, they instinctively grab whatever they can to break their fall without thinking. Depending on the conditions in the store, one might slip and accidentally grab the merchandise shelf in order to attempt to break a fall and inadvertently pull the shelf down upon them, creating even greater injury. Imagine what injuries might occur if you slip in front of a live cooking demonstration at a supermarket and accidentally grab a vat of scalding hot frying oil and pull it down on top of you!
Another example of tripping can be on an uneven surface like a brick sidewalk where one or more bricks have sunk just an inch, becoming uneven and producing a tripping hazard. A tripping hazard could also occur when a sidewalk cracks and becomes uneven causing one to stumble on the now uneven surface. When a person trips, they can be launched forward headfirst into whatever obstacle is in their path. A person could fall face first into the sidewalk and break bones in their face or knock out a few front teeth. More serious tripping accidents can also happen. If you trip on the imperfection in a surface where you are walking, you could stumble into and break a plate glass window or worse, fall into moving motor vehicle traffic. Even hitting your head on a post or other object when falling uncontrollably, can cause brain trauma or spinal cord injuries. Tripping on an improperly maintained surface can cause broken bones, brain trauma and in extreme cases, even death in extreme cases.
The types of hazards that are commonly responsible for slip and fall injuries are as follows:
1. Water - Usually as a result of a leak, dropped liquid or floor cleaning activity.
2. Snow and Ice - A common occurrence in Canada. In Ontario, property owners and government services are expected to either remove snow and ice within a reasonable time frame or in certain cases, adequately warn people of the hazards.
3. Elevation changes - Falling down an unexpected flight of stairs or even one stair in a walkway.
4. Cracks in sidewalks or floors - Floors must be constantly inspected, cleaned and repaired.
5. Torn, Ripped or Buckling Carpeting - Carpeting wears out quickly in high traffic areas and must be replaced regularly.
6. Poorly Lit Walkways and Parking Lots – Customers and the general public, for businesses, apartments and government buildings, are entitled to see where they are going and not have to guess if they will slip, trip or fall over something with their next step.
7. Broken, Loose or Missing Stairway Handrails - Navigating a flight of stairs can be difficult for some people, especially senior citizens, and they rely on a handrail to keep them safe.
8. Tripping Over an Object - Something that is not expected and should not be there, like a cleaning bucket, should be immediately removed.
Slip, trip and fall liability in Canada is not limited to the owner of the property. It is the duty of whomever is responsible for the maintenance of the property to make sure that the property is kept in a safe condition for the general public. A renter of a property and their insurance company may be held liable when someone falls and becomes injured, if they are responsible for property maintenance and have failed to sufficiently upkeep the property. It is also the responsibility of the owners to make sure it is regularly maintained and in safe working condition.
When a slip and fall accident occurs, critical evidence must be gathered in order to document the negligence of the person or company responsible for maintaining the property. This includes eyewitness testimony, company department and store manager reports and employee testimony and security camera footage. If you are injured in a slip, trip and fall accident, you are advised to call our Oakville Injury Lawyers of Ontario (ILO) law office immediately. Our personal injury attorneys know from experience that time is of the essence in gathering this evidence as company reports and records tend to get altered or lost as does security camera footage, especially when such evidence points to the owner’s negligence. Your initial consultation is free and will allow you to gain a good understanding of the strength of your claim and our strategy for getting you the compensation you deserve.
What to do if You Have a Slip and Fall Accident
The first thing you should do when you are injured in a slip and fall accident, even if you are in a store or a restaurant or someone's home, is to call 911 and immediately call for an ambulance. If you have fallen and suspect that you have injured your neck or back, or have perhaps fractured a hip or wrist, you need immediate medical attention from skilled professionals. Don't rely on others to take you to the hospital and especially, do not rely on the medical aid of the company that runs the business or owns the property where you have fallen. Call an ambulance to make sure that you get the best medical care in a hospital environment. It's appropriate to accept minor first aid, such as bandages, ice or a tourniquet, but always call 911.
While awaiting the ambulance, get the names and phone numbers of as many eyewitnesses as possible. Consider handing them your phone and allowing them to enter their information into it. Even one person will suffice, as the credibility of an independent eyewitness will be an important component in proving the existence of the conditions that caused you to slip and fall and become injured. You or any witnesses may also use a phone to take a photographic record of the accident scene.
The next step is to call our legal team, as we have experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers who specialize in just this kind of law. We will immediately attempt to take possession of any security camera footage, as well as employee and company written reports. Often, employee written reports are very valuable evidence as employees tend to be more honest than managers or owners in interpreting the situation and circumstances surrounding the accident.
Brain trauma is one of the more severe injuries that can result from a slip and fall. Brain injury can leave you permanently disabled and unable to work and support your family. Cuts and bruises are relatively minor injuries, but a laceration can be serious and require stitches or sometimes become infected. Even for relatively minor injuries it is prudent to call a personal injury lawyer in order to at least make sure that the costs of medical treatment are paid in full by the insurer of the negligent property owner. Sometimes, seemingly minor injuries mask more serious wounds that become noticeable weeks after a fall; this is another reason why it is important to report the injury, seek medical treatment and consult with an attorney.
Slip, trip and fall accidents caused by the negligence of a person or company responsible for maintaining a property typically happen unexpectedly. In the blink of an eye you can be seriously injured. It’s helpful to know what to do in advance should something like this happen to you. Don't be fooled by the business or homeowner claiming that "you'll be okay" or that "it's nothing". If you fall and are injured, there are two important steps that should be taken. The first one is to immediately call 911 and get proper medical assessment and treatment for your injuries. The second is to call the Oakville ILO law team, so that we can begin the process of gathering evidence and filing a claim with the insurer of the party responsible for your injuries.