Slip and fall
|Part of the common law series|
|Liability and remedies|
|Duty to visitors|
|Other common law areas|
Slip and fall, in United States tort law, is a claim or case based on a person slipping (or tripping) and falling. It is a tort, and based on a claim that the property owner was negligent in allowing some dangerous condition to exist that caused the slip or trip.
Property owners generally have two basic defenses to public liability slip and fall claims:
- The first defense is that they were not negligent. For example, the owner may claim that the banana that a patron slipped upon had been dropped on the floor only moments ago by another patron, and that, in the exercise of due diligence, a typical store owner acting with reasonable care would not have had time to discover the danger and take steps to mitigate the danger.
- The second and more typical defense is that the person who was injured was at fault. For example, the owner may claim that any reasonable patron, exercising due diligence for his or her own safety, would see a banana on the floor, and take those steps necessary to avoid slipping on it.
Because of a general perception that slip and falls are at least partly the fault of the person injured, slip and fall injuries are usually worth less than injuries from other types of torts.
For slip and fall investigations, the incident walking surface slip resistance can be measured. The surface can be tested to identify if it is above or below accepted levels of slip resistance thresholds.
Special instruments are available for floor slip resistance testing. The pendulum tester is a national standard for pedestrian slip resistance in 49 nations on four continents, and has been endorsed by Ceramic Tile Institute of America since 2001. A common reference for safety is that the Pendulum Test Value should be 36 or higher under the conditions of use (wet, dry, etc.). The pendulum is also used in a test for Sustainable Slip Resistance.
The English XL VIT has been the subject of much peer-reviewed literature , , , that has proven the consistent ability of the instrument to assess the risk for human slip and fall injury events. The apparatus is one of the most recognized devices to assess the slip resistance of in-service flooring and footwear bottom materials. The English XL VIT slipmeter is lighter than most laptop computers (under 4 pounds) and is transported in a compact custom carrying case with a handle and shoulder strap. It can actually be stowed under the seat in front of you on an airplane. The English XL VIT slipmeter is the easiest-to-use of all meaningful tribometers, with minimal time of testing when compared to any other similar slip meter. It is direct reading; no calculations are required to know the slip resistance value. The English XL VIT is currently one of the few tribometers that has passed the rigorous requirements of the current ASTM F2508 Standard Practice for Validation, Calibration, and Certification of Walkway Tribometers Using Reference Surfaces . The current User Guide  for operation not only replaces the content of the formerly active ASTM Standard F1679, but is significantly more detailed to assure enhanced repeatability and reproducibility, particularly required by the current F2508 standard. The 1996 machine-specific F1679 standard for operation of the English XL (ASTM F1679 is still available for sale by ASTM ) was withdrawn in 2006 because it was for a proprietary device. The slip meter demonstrated its accuracy early on in a precision and bias statement compiled in 1998 (Flynn) and again in 2000 (Underwood and Vidal).
- English, William. Should the Threshold of Safety Be .50?
- CTIOA (a), Ceramic Tile Institute of America, “Floor Safety Reports: No. 1, Portable Methods,” ctioa.org, 2001
- CTIOA (b), Ceramic Tile Institute of America, “Floor Safety Reports: No. 1, Portable Methods,” ctioa.org, 2001
- “Repeatability and bias of two walkway safety tribometers,” Powers, Kulig, Flynn, and Brault, Journal of Testing and Evaluation, JTEVA, Vol. 27, No. 6, November 1999, pp. 368–374
- “Prediction of Slips: an evaluation of utilized coefficient of friction and available slip resistance,” Burnfield et al, Journal of Forensic Sciences, Volume 47, Issue 6, November 2002, and Ergonomics Vol. 49, No. 10, 15 August 2006, 982–995
- “Utilized friction when entering and exiting a dry and wet bathtub,” Siegmund, Flynn, Mang, Chimich, and Gardiner, Gait & Posture, Volume 31, Issue 4, April 2010, Pages 473–478