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Being prepared for slip-and-fall accidents at offsite events

Slip-and-fall accidents can happen anywhere. Uneven pavement, a pothole, an icy walkway, a slick floor or an unattended-to-spill can make someone lose his or her balance and go for a tumble. However, the severity of injuries can range from a bruise to a broken bone to even death. I once knew someone who fell from the second rung of a stepladder and broke their wrist. It all depends on how you land and even how "hard" you land.

Businesses and homeowners in Pittsburgh should do as much as possible to ensure that dangerous property is repaired or blocked off so no one gets hurt. What about events that are held at another location, such as sporting events or parties? What can be done to ensure the property is safe for participants and audiences?

A young teenager from Long Island, New York, died in 2012 when he fell while competing at a cross-country competition. Apparently, the 14-year-old boy was on a practice run when he slipped and fell in the mud. The blow to his chest made him go into cardiac arrest, per reports from his family. Unfortunately, he passed away five days later.

The event was held at Elma Meadows Golf Course. A golf course is a public venue, so it should be well maintained. This golf course was owned by Erie County. Many sporting events provide medical personnel and equipment on the premises for potential accidents, which occur frequently with athletes. Apparently, this event did not.

The parents are now suing Erie County, the volunteer fire department for not providing ambulance services, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association who sponsored the event and the school district where the boy was a member of the athletic team. The parties are being accused of negligence and wrongful death. The father claims that an ambulance and an external defibrillator should have been on the premises.

Those holding an event away from their own property should know what the law requires or what is recommended to ensure the property is safe. It may be best to consult an attorney proactively to ensure you cover your bases instead of having to consult one later to defend a premises liability suit for negligence. Being prepared for potential medical problems that guests or participants could experience might also be something to think about.

Source:  wgrz.com, "Erie Co. and Local Fire Dept. Sued In Teen's Death" Michael Wooten, Feb. 03, 2014

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