Fact Scenarios that (usually) DO NOT make good Slip & Fall Cases
Our firm is often questioned about taking on slip and fall cases. Some of those cases are great and others are really bad. Our website does a pretty good job of explaining those cases we like: hazards created by the hotel, foreign substances on the floor that the hotel has notice of, and the like. This section is devoted to those cases that we are repeatedly asked about and for some reason people think they have a good case, when they don’t.
The Shower Scenario. Facts: I slipped and fell in the shower because my feet were wet and the hotel did not provide me a non-slip mat. This is one we hear most often. Rationale of why we don’t take these cases: The primary reason we don’t accept slip and fall cases in the shower is because its obvious that the shower area is slippery. When soap and water mix with tile, a hotel guest has a duty to use extra care when bathing. Major injury can result when falling the shower, and because of the major injuries persons assume they have a good case. The opposite is true. The idea that an anti-slip shower mat was not provided is not a good reason. If you don’t see one, you should call the housekeeping department and ask if they provide. Once you step into the shower stall you are to some degree taking a risk of slipping. The hotel can’t be a guarantor of your safety when in the shower. They have no control of what you may or may not do.
The Bath Scenario. Facts: I slipped trying to get in or out of the bath. Rationale: It is not the hotels fault you slipped. People need to understand the notion of being careful. Sometimes we get elderly persons who argue that no rails were in place near the bathtub when they fell and broke their hip or elbow. If the room was designed for a handicapped person, then yes there is a duty to provide handrails per the building code, but if it is a normal room, then no duty to provide such accommodations exists.
The Bathroom Scenario. Facts: I slipped from water that leaked from the shower. Rationale: Persons who may not be good at water containment in the shower given the misplaced shower curtain or the unsealed door often have a watery mess when they begin to dry off. You simply can’t blame the hotel for this issue. That is the reason the hotel provides extra towels and a bath mat.
The Housekeeper Scenario. I returned from my breakfast to use the bathroom in our room and the maids mopped the floor without our knowledge and I slipped on the marble floor. Rationale: This is probably the best case of the four mentioned above; however, it is not one we would likely take. Cleaning of rooms is well know thing among hotel guests. The duty to put up caution-wet –floor signs is really only required in common areas. If you see that your towels have been replaced with fresh, folded towels, and the bed is made, you should be aware that they likely mopped the floor. Now, there may be cases where a duty does exist to warn the guest of the slippery floor, but that would depend on other factors we will not go into here. Please call our office if you have a similar scenario as mentioned here.
The Wet marble Floor. The wet marble floor may or may not be a good fact pattern for a personal injury case. The casinos use marble floors to create an ambiance of grandeur and opulence, and they are the cause of most slip and falls in casinos. The biggest culprit is the mix of water or a liquid (from someone’s spilled drink) or slippery substance like ice cream or oil that finds its way to the hotel lobby. The hotel argues they had no time or notice to clean up the spill before the patron fell. This timing is the critical issue when a jury decides who may be liable in the fall. If the substance is allowed to remain for a long period of time (and who is able to define a “long period of time?”), and the guest does not see the hazard it may be a great case to pursue. If it is a short time period, e.g. a few seconds or minutes and a guest falls, the argument for hotel responsibility is diminished. When injuries are significant enough, the risk or pursuing is not outweighed by the risk of loss and our firm will get involved. The reason for this is the argument of foreseeability. Hotels design the floors knowing they have slip resistant standards to achieve. When they choose a floor for beauty over utility there is an inherent decision for looks over safety. This might be just fine for a hotel room, but not in a hotel lobby where millions of guests will be walking. Many of these guests will consume alcohol, walk in the rain, where high-heals, and do things that Vegas vacationers will always do. So, the issue of whether the flooring meets legal foreseeability requirements is now a question of fact for a jury. I tend to think that Casinos should choose other flooring materials or provide carpet walkways to maximize safety. If you are reading this and have a fall on a slippery floor call us for a personal consultation.
Swimming Pool Falls. Swimming pools are inherently dangerous by the fact that water is ever present. Persons who get in and out of the pool, track water around the pool walking area, around stairs and in the outdoor bars. Most people slip in and around the stairs of the pool or the stairs leading to the pool area and believe they have a case because the stairs were slippery. This can be a potential case, but more often then not, it does not meet the criteria for a solid personal injury case. Suntan oils, spilled cocktails, and sunscreen find there way everywhere. Often the oils float on the water and make there way to handrails and other pool entrance areas. Unless an injured party can show the pool owner is negligent because of something the pool actually created, these are very tough cases is someone merely slips at a pool or spa location.
Spa Slips. Recently we took on a case whereby a person slipped in a spa locker room after a massage and it was thought that the personnel had seen the same accident a week prior because of water accumulation in the exact same spot. These may be good cases. Most bad cases, however, have a fact pattern that differs: They slipped because they had lotion or oil on their feet causing them to fall in the spa shower or entering into a steam shower, or they literally slip our of their spa loafers causing injury. These are not great cases and pursuit should be avoided. If you have different facts then this, please contact us immediately.