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Failure to take simple steps against slips, falls, can be costly

When you consider how simple it is for operators of commercial properties to take steps to reduce or eliminate some of the most common hazardous conditions, it's hard to understand how or why they get overlooked. That being the case, it's easy to understand why, when Pittsburgh residents suffer injury from a slip and fall, that those operators are held liable for allowing dangerous property conditions.

Take a just-washed floor as one example. Hard vinyl floors are common in a lot of commercial building halls. When they get wet, they get slick. The chances of someone having their feet fly out from under them can be significant. How hard is it to put up a sign that reads "Warning! Wet Floor!"

Perhaps the height of incongruity is when such accidents occur in places like hospitals. These are facilities in which managers tend to make risk management one of their highest priorities. And yet, they are not immune. Accidents that cause slip and fall injuries do happen in hospitals and lawsuits can follow.

One such case recently came to resolution in Rhode Island. A jury in Providence awarded a one-time factory worker nearly $680,000 in damages after a 2006 fall at an area hospital. With interest included, the total award stands at $1.3 million.

The basis of the suit was that the woman stepped off an elevator onto a just-washed floor. When she hit the floor, she broke her kneecap and suffered permanent disability. Her claim was that the hospital was negligent in not notifying patrons of the potentially slippery conditions. The jury clearly agreed.

That is not the end of the story, however. Attorneys for the hospital say they intend to file a motion seeking a new trial. It's not clear what the grounds would be for that motion.

Source: Providence Journal, "$1.3 million judgment against R.I. Hospital in slip and fall case,"  Tracy Breton, June 11, 2013

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