While properties of all sorts can provide hazards year round, during the winter, these hazards seem to worsen due to the icy and slippery weather conditions. This means property owners need to step up this time of year to make sure that their customers’ safety is still their top priority. When shop owners, landlords, and building managers fail to ensure that the environment that they have authority over is safe from hazards, that’s when people like you get hurt. Property hazards can span the gamut: from swimming pools to a flight of stairs, danger can be found in all sorts of places. When you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, that’s when you need the help of a premises liability attorney.
Common property hazards
Almost any part of a property can pose some sort of risk, but there are common hazards that we see on a fairly regular basis. While common, these hazards can ruin someone’s life.
The most common property hazards that can lead to catastrophic injuries include:
- Slip and fall accidents. These accidents can happen anywhere in any season, but they are especially common in the winter when the sidewalks become icy, and the entrances to stores and homes become slippery from melted snow off of boots and shoes. While slip and fall accidents might be common, the injuries sustained from them can be deadly.
- Negligent security. If you’re going on vacation for the holidays, or maybe you’re just doing a little bit of late night shopping, security in public places is important to your safety. Owners of a property owe a duty of care to customers and their safety, especially when it comes to attacks and assaults. While property owners can’t always stop someone intent on harming others, they can provide amenities that can help to prevent assaults or violence. Enhancing security measures for a property includes improving visibility with extra lighting, implementing security systems such as cameras and alarms, establishing barriers like fences, and hiring security personnel.
- Swimming pool accidents. While winter is fast approaching, swimming might not be your first go-to activity, but it’s not uncommon to come across pools at hotels or casinos if you’re traveling for the holidays. Swimming pool accidents are common, and often deadly, especially for children. Not only is drowning a possibility, but so are head injuries and broken bones.
- Elevator and escalator accidents. While these types of accidents are rare, when they occur, they can be devastating. Causes for elevator accidents include: Pulley system failure leading to rapid descent, faulty doors remaining open, exposing the elevator shaft, faulty wiring affecting operation, improper repairs, and electrical malfunctions. Escalator accidents are commonly caused by: broken or missing steps, missing teeth in the track, and improper alignment. Consumerwatch reports that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “about 27 people are killed in elevator accidents each year.” About escalators, “the CPSC estimates that falls cause 75 percent of the 6000 escalator injuries per year in the U.S., with entrapment causing 20 percent, and other causes at the root of the remaining five percent.”
What types of injuries can these property hazards cause?
While stubbing your toe or scraping your knee might be a more common outcome from plenty of minor accidents, property hazards can oftentimes lead to more catastrophic and life-changing injuries. These types of injuries can leave you suffering for months or years after the incident.
Common catastrophic injuries from property hazards include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The brain is inarguably one of the most important parts of your body, and therefore any damage to it can cause serious trouble. TBIs happen when your head is hit by a significant force, causing your brain to jostle and collide with the inside of your skull. This can lead to hemorrhaging and swelling. Symptoms of a TBI include headaches, dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, fatigue, and nausea. A TBI can even lead to coma or death. Slipping on wet tile at the store, tripping over a loose step at the pool, or falling down a malfunctioning escalator can all lead to a TBI.
- Broken bones. While common, severe bone breaks can take months to heal, and affect a person for the rest of their life. A grandma who slips on the icy steps outside an apartment building is likely to break a hip, and that may very well lead to her being in a wheelchair for a long time to come. A little kid getting their arm stuck in the doors of an elevator could lead to that arm being broken in multiple places. Falling down an elevator shaft or a set of escalator stairs could lead to a broken back or spine or neck.
- Crushing injuries. These injuries occur when the body is put under immense pressure by two heavy objects. The damage these injuries cause includes: bleeding, nerve damage, broken bones, lacerations, and compartment syndrome. Having an elevator fall on you, while not common, can cause crushing injuries. A child’s finger or hand or arm could sustain these injuries if they become entrapped in an escalator.
- Drowning. Most common to children, drowning accidents can cause severe damage to the brain if it is deprived of oxygen for too long. In drowning incidents, oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) is a major threat, affecting the brain, heart, and tissues. Immediate and delayed hypoxia can result from fluid inhalation, causing respiratory and cardiac issues. Inhaled substances may lead to inflammation or pneumonia, impacting lung function and potentially causing respiratory failure. Poorly ventilated lung areas worsen oxygen deprivation, leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs.
- Injuries from assault. If you are assaulted due to negligent security efforts, the injuries you receive can be varied and many. From broken bones to lacerations to gunshot wounds to sexual violence, these injuries can be catastrophic. This is without mentioning the emotional trauma you will face going forward.
When you’ve been injured, especially during a time of the year when peace and joy are meant to be the focus, it can be a huge strain on you physically, financially, and emotionally.
At Soroka & Associates, we are experienced when it comes to premises liability cases, and we know exactly how to handle the complex legal process. We will make sure that all parties responsible for your accident (maintenance workers, the building owner, the manufacturer of the product) are held liable so that you can receive the just compensation that you deserve. If you have been injured due to a property hazard, call us at our Columbus office, or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We proudly serve those throughout Central Ohio.