We all have seen the bright yellow signs with the image of a person slipping backwards along with the words: “Caution! Wet Floor!” While the store and business owners who deploy these signs usually do so to protect themselves from a potential civil lawsuit, these signs are also one way the store or business owner can protect his or her customers from the devastating injuries that accompany wet floor accidents.
These signs may not be enough, however, in certain situations.
Injuries Caused by Wet Floor Accidents
A wet floor accident occurs when an individual injures him or herself as a result of a wet surface. Wet surfaces are slippery surfaces and can cause slip and fall accidents. In a slip and fall, the victim’s feet literally slip out from underneath him or her and the victim is sent falling backwards to the ground. Because the individual falls backwards (as opposed to forward, as is often the case in a trip and fall accident), the victim usually has no way to brace him- or herself so as to avoid serious injuries.
Some of the most common injuries associated with wet floor accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, which can result in lifelong disability and impairment;
- Head, neck, and spine injuries that often result in extreme pain, limitation of movement, and/or temporary or permanent paralysis;
- Broken bones (pelvic bones and the spine are at greatest risk of being broken in a wet floor accident).
Many of the injuries that are caused by wet floor accidents will take months to heal – if they are able to completely heal at all. For wet floor accident injury victims, this means thousands of dollars in medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and significant periods without an income due to being unable to work. If the person is permanently disabled because of his or her injuries, he or she is likely to experience loss of enjoyment of life and other mental trauma. If the owner of the property at which the wet floor accident occurred is found to have acted negligently in caring for the property, that owner may be held responsible for these and other expenses and losses of the victim.
When Placing a Sign is Not Enough to Avoid a Wet Floor Accident
Property owners are mistaken if they believe the law only requires them to set out a “Wet Floor” sign when a spill occurs on their property. Wet floors are very dangerous to customers and visitors, and a “Wet Floor” sign – though bright – may not be seen by all customers and visitors. Premises liability law requires that these owners take “reasonable steps” to discover the wet floor and correct the problem or warn others of the problem.
This typically means a property owner must:
- Make regular inspections of the floors of his or her property to see if there are any spills or wet floors;
- Immediately mark a floor as wet upon discovering a spill so that guests and visitors have an opportunity to alert themselves of the slippery conditions (the sign or other mark should be placed in a highly-visible location close to the spill but far enough away that guests and visitors can avoid the floor);
- Take steps to contain the spill and prevent the floor from becoming even wetter;
- Thoroughly clean up the spill, including mopping and drying the floor;
- Continue to leave signage out in conspicuous places near the site of the spill until it is confirmed that the floor is dry and no longer poses a danger to others.
Protecting Yourself After a Wet Floor Accident
If you are able to do so safely, try and take photographs of the wet floor on which you slipped with a camera-equipped phone before the spill can be cleaned up. Avoid signing any sort of “release” or “waiver” that may be offered to you by the store’s manager as these may contain provisions in which you agree to waive any claim you may have against the store or property owner. You may (if you choose) give a verbal or written statement to the store’s management, but be certain your statement is thorough and describes any lack of signage or warning about the wet floor.
You should also consider hiring competent and dedicated legal counsel like attorney Ken Stern of Stern Law, PLLC. There may be other evidence pertinent to your wet floor accident (such as videotape evidence or eyewitnesses), and slip and fall attorney Ken Stern knowns how to go about obtaining and preserving this important evidence before it is lost forever. Using your photographs and other evidence obtained through the course of his investigation, Ken Stern will build a persuasive claim for compensation and work to help you obtain this compensation. Call Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 and speak with Mr. Stern about your wet floor accident.