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 Slip Meter, also known as a VIT (Variable Incidence Tribometer) is a portable "slip tester", designed to test the "slip index" on various walking surfaces, level or incline (even steps), under dry and wet (or otherwise contaminated) conditions by mimicking certain pedestrian bio-mechanical parameters. The English XL test method has been described by ASTM method F1679, but was later withdrawn with no replacement due to the inability to provide the required approved precision statement, and so no longer exists. As of 2013, this slip tester is still somehow used in U.S. courts by unscrupulous expert witnesses who can manipulate the test results by how they press the actuating button, allowing English XL users to testify that the same floor is either safe or slippery depending on who is paying them to test that floor and what result that attorney wants.
- 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
- Bulletin #4: Ground and Floor Surface. United States Access Board.