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.
Static coefficient of friction is also measured by ASTM method C1028-07. However, most forensic experts believe that this method is not adequate for assessing safety. In 2014, it was withdrawn as an official standard by the ASTM.
Another tribometer with a withdrawn standard is the English XL VIT, which has been the subject of some peer-reviewed literature, and is popular among professional expert witnesses due to the fact that the results of the testing can be easily manipulated by the user to give the answers desired in each case. It is not considered a valid scientific instrument by the international slip testing community and does not have a current official test method. The English XL VIT has passed the requirements of the current ASTM F2508 Standard Practice for Validation, Calibration, and Certification of Walkway Tribometers Using Reference Surfaces. However, this standard does not truly validate a tribometer as being a reliable scientific instrument. It is necessary for any tribometer to be able to pass this test, but a reliable Floor slip resistance testing instrument will also have a current official test method and/or will have been found to correlate well with Variable-Angle ramp tests of human traction, and be able to provide a reasonable precision statement. The test method for the English XL was withdrawn by the ASTM shortly after publishing it due to the inability to provide a reasonable precision statement as required by the ASTM.
- 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