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Slip & Fall Cases — It’s Not Just About Being a Clutz

Many misconceptions remains about “slip and fall” cases. This class of suits refers to situations where individuals fall, trip, or slip (usually on business property or public property) and are injured. It happens quite frequently, and in some cases slip and fall lawsuits are filed by the injured party against one in a position to prevent the fall. Yet, even though many are seriously injured in a fall, our Illinois accident attorneys know that some smear these cases as always without merit.

The main argument made is that the claims are without merit because they almost always involve “defects” or “dangerous conditions” that are obvious and should have been seen by the injured party. Many falls take place on slippery surfaces, uneven sidewalks, and stairs. Many who deride the suits argue that the injured party should have known about these risks and adjusted accordingly. To these folks the only decent slip and fall case involves the classic law school hypothetical: a manhole cover is mysteriously left off in the middle of the night and a walker falls through it without ever getting a chance to see it. That is obviously neglect with a serious risk of harm that was unseen by the injured party in the dark.

The Chicago injury lawyers at our firm know that all other slip and falls cases—say those involving a tumble down the stairs–are often treated with derision. This is unfortunate, because information continues to come out explaining how falls can happen because of even small defects. These accidents are not rooted in walker-error but based on the actual way that the human body relates to surroundings.

The Sneaky Stair
This point was made vividly in a high-profile viral video published last week by a New York filmmaker. The video shows a set of stairs on the city’s subway line with one step that is a slightly different height than the others. The difference is minimal and likely not caught with the naked eye. However, the consequences for those using the stairs is obvious. The video shows a running loop of subway travelers tripping on that exact step time and again.

The video is a reminder that there are very much ingrained defects at certain locations that are the proverbial “accidents waiting to happen.” That is because when using things like stairs, the human body is remarkably attuned to the standard height and slant of the space. This allows automation. No one carefully takes one step at a time while ensuring they raise their foot the appropriate height to account for differences between stairs. Instead, everyone automatically tackles the stairs while looking forward. This means that even slight deviations can result in a trips and falls.

The injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that this is a helpful reminder of the merit of many slip and fall cases. While it is easy to point fingers at the one hurt, the fact remains that owners and public spaces often allow dangerous situations to fester. Actions can be taken to eliminate the dangers and keep walkers safe. When those actions are not taken and people are hurt as a result, then the law is clear in providing redress for the injury victim for the losses sustained.

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