A Slip and fall accident affects everyone in society, from the young to the old, and people of all genders.
The number of slip and fall cases has been on the increase over the last couple of years. According to the National Fall Safety Institute, Slips and falls account for 12% of total falls.
While many factors can contribute to these accidents, one often overlooked element is the type of footwear a person is wearing.
Your choice of shoes can significantly impact your claim in a slip and fall lawsuit. Below are the various ways in which your shoes can affect your slip and fall case and offer some guidance on making informed decisions regarding footwear.
The Role of Footwear in Slip and Fall Accidents
Before delving into the legal aspects, it’s crucial to understand how footwear plays a critical role in slip and fall accidents:
Traction: The sole of your shoes provides traction, which determines your ability to grip the walking surface. Shoes with worn-out soles or inadequate tread patterns can increase the risk of slipping and falling, especially on wet or slippery surfaces.
Stability: The design and construction of your shoes affect your overall stability. High-heeled shoes, for instance, can be unstable and may increase the likelihood of a fall, particularly on uneven or irregular surfaces.
Material: The material of your shoes can impact how they interact with different surfaces. Rubber-soled shoes generally provide better grip on slippery surfaces compared to leather or plastic soles.
Size and Fit: Ill-fitting shoes can alter your gait and balance, potentially making you more susceptible to a slip and fall accident.
How Your Choice of Shoes Can Impact Your Claim
Negligence and Footwear: When pursuing a slip and fall lawsuit, one of the key elements to prove is negligence on the part of the property owner or business.
If it can be established that you were wearing appropriate footwear for the conditions and still fell due to hazardous conditions on the property, it strengthens your case.
Conversely, if you were wearing inappropriate footwear, the defendant may argue that your choice of shoes contributed to the accident.
Comparative Negligence: Some states follow the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that the court can assign a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident, including the injured party.
If you were wearing shoes unsuitable for the conditions, the court may reduce your compensation based on your percentage of fault.
Expert Testimony: In complex slip and fall cases, expert testimony may be required to establish the role of footwear in the accident.
Experts can evaluate the type of shoes you were wearing and how they may have contributed to the fall, which can be crucial in proving your claim.
Establishing Causation: To succeed in a slip and fall lawsuit, you must establish that the hazardous condition on the property directly caused your injuries. If your footwear is found to be a contributing factor, it may weaken your claim.
Choosing the Right Footwear
To minimize the potential impact of footwear on your slip and fall claim, consider these tips:
Match Your Shoes to the Activity: Wear appropriate footwear for the activity you are engaging in. For example, wear slip-resistant shoes for work in a restaurant kitchen or hiking boots for outdoor activities.
Check Your Shoes: Regularly inspect your shoes for signs of wear and tear, and replace them when necessary. Worn-out soles or damaged shoes can compromise your safety.
Consider the Environment: Be mindful of the environment you will be in. If you expect slippery conditions, choose shoes with good traction.
Choose Comfort and Fit: Ensure that your shoes are comfortable and fit properly. Ill-fitting shoes can affect your balance and stability.
Some Slip and Fall Cases
Below are some cases where the choice of shoe was implicated in a negligence injury lawsuit.
- Robinson v. Martin Chevrolet, Inc., Trumbull App. No. 98-T-0070 (Trumbull City., Ohio, 1999)
A woman wearing one-inch heels slipped and fell in a car repair shop. Summary judgment for the shop was affirmed.
- Jones v. Hyatt Corporation of Del., 681 So.2d 381 (La.App.4 Cir. 1995/1996)
Woman slipped and fell on a water spot in the corridor of a hotel, while wearing either high-heeled shoes or wedged heels. Jury decision affirmed, with reduction in amount awarded.
- Tolman v. Wieboldt Stores, Inc., 73 Ill. App.2d 320, 219 N.E.2d 560 (Ill.App. Dist.1 1966)
The heel of a woman’s shoe got caught in the slats of an escalator and she was injured. The jury awarded her $10,000. The appeals court reversed the award, and ordered judgment in favor of the store.
- Dooley v. Economy Store, 109 Vt. 138, 194 A. 375 (Vt. 1937)
A woman in a department store caught the heel of her shoe on a stair-step and fell. The woman won at the trial court level. The appeals court reversed, and said that the store should have received a directed verdict.
- Pastrick v. S. S. Kresge Co., 192 N.E. 485, 288 Mass. 194 (Mass. 1934)
The toe of the sole of a woman’s shoe caught on a stair step and she fell, injuring herself. The trial judge found for the defendant. Verdict affirmed.
- Shorkey v. Great Atlantic & P. Tea Co., 259 Mich. 450, 243 N.W. 257 (Mich. 1932)
Woman with high heels slipped and fell when her heel got caught in the holes of a hot-air register. Original trial verdict for the woman reversed.
- Stark v. Franklin Simon & Co., 237 App.Div. 42, 260 N.Y.S. 691 (N.Y.App. 1932)
A woman fell after the heel of her French-heeled shoe caught between 2 metal strips of a staircase. The trial court ruled for the woman, but the appeals court reversed and ordered dismissal.
Apart from the shoe a plaintiff was wearing at the time an injury occurred, the courts consider other factors. The ability of the plaintiff to prove facts showing the culpability of the defendant is paramount.
Finally, on How Shoes Can Affect Slip and Fall Claims
Your choice of footwear can be a crucial element in establishing negligence and causation in a slip and fall claim.
To protect your rights in the event of a slip and fall accident, always wear appropriate footwear for the conditions, maintain your shoes, and seek legal advice if you believe you have a valid claim.
By being proactive and mindful of your footwear choices, you can reduce the risk of accidents and improve your chances of success if you do find yourself in a slip and fall situation.