CNA has issued a white paper titled "Slip and Fall Control Techniques for Commercial Real Estate Owners." The report indicates that more than one million people are injured each year in slip or trip and fall incidents and 16,000 people die from falls.
CNA adds this:
With the aging baby boomer generation, the size and scope of this issue is expected to grow significantly. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) estimates that between 2005 and 2020, the number of seniors in the U.S. will increase from 35 million to 77 million. Statistically, seniors are far more likely to experience
a slip-and-fall accident. For those that are injured, the cost of treatment and recovery time is significantly greater than the average for non-seniors. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, these types of injuries are also the leading cause of hospital admission for older adults. [Footnotes omitted.]
According to CNA, these are the five major causes of slip and fall injuries:
1. Lack of slip resistance on walking surfaces
2. Poor walking surface conditions
3. Poor visibility
4. Lack or poor condition of handrails and guardrails
5. Poor accessibility
The paper goes on to explain what CNA is doing to understand how to reduce claims by reducing the number of slip and falls. The paper is a virtual treasure trove of information for lawyers handling slip and fall cases.
Here is an example of what CNA recommends to its insureds:
Select high-traction, slip-resistant flooring materials when building, expanding or remodeling facilities. Installation of such materials with proven high traction characteristics is one of the best ways to avoid slip and fall issues. To a great degree, texture determines a floor’s slip resistance. Smooth floors made of glazed ceramic tile or terrazzo can be dangerously slippery under typical footwear when wet. Other floors with abrasives in their surface or specially textured metal plates can be quite slip resistant, even when wet or contaminated.
The best chance of reducing slip-and-fall accidents is during a facility’s design phase when choosing floor materials. Some problem floors can be made safer by surface treatments, but others may need to be replaced or carpeted over, if possible. A good place to start is flooring materials certified by the National Floor Safety Institute (www.nfsi.org).
Information from industry sources can help us do a better job weeding out meritorious from unmeritorious claims and increase the likelihood of winning meritorious cases.