Tripping and falling on public, commercial or private property is all the same: injuries can happen and they can be a costly liability for the owner.
It is equally vital that homeowners and commercial property owners hire the best asphalt contractor to build and maintain their driveways, sidewalks, walkways, pool decks and parking lots. Reputable residential, as well as commercial asphalt construction companies assure that surfaces are durable and even, with an eye on safety and liability for the property owner.
Want to know what kinds of risks you run with uneven walkways on your property? Just google “slip and fall injuries” and the first page of search results will likely be a list of law firms who specialize in personal injuries from falls.
Note that the responsibility for safe, fall-free walkways isn’t just a concern to commercial enterprises. A homeowner or owner of apartment or condo units is subject to litigation as well from poorly installed or maintained hardscape (asphalt pavement, cement, paving stones) on property. The facts are that disability, pain and property loss due to poorly maintained pavement, lighting or other hazards fall on the property owner, be it private or commercial.
The injured parties are more than just members of a household or close friends. Delivery personnel, people attending parties, even relatives making a visit who trip in a driveway pothole, uneven sidewalks, loose rugs or icy spots due to a drip from a gutter, all can suffer injuries and eventually engage in a lawsuit (yes, even relatives sue other relatives sometimes).
How serious can a trip-and-fall injury be? Some facts:
- Bones break in about five percent of slips, trips and falls.
- Older people are particularly vulnerable, as about one-third of people over the age of 65 fall about once a year.
- Being younger is no protection. For people over the age of 24, the most common causes of non-fatal injuries are trips and falls.
- Traumatic brain injuries from falls are greater than those from organized sports.
- Almost all (95 percent) of hip fractures are due to trips and falls.
- The average cost of a slip and fall injury is $30,000, and those caused by icy surfaces average as high as $48,000 (costs vary by locale; stats from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- In most cases, a homeowner’s property insurance will cover losses related to the accident – to a point. The homeowner might have medical payment coverage in addition to liability coverage.
- Medical payment coverage might be limited to $5000; beyond that it’s on the homeowner.
- Liability coverage applies only if there is evidence of negligence on the part of the property owner.
This last point is critical, as negligence is largely in the control of the property owner. A flat, smooth-but-not-slippery walking surface is what one needs to provide guests.
That starts with removing trip-and-fall causes, such as loose, random objects (hoses and wires, for example) in walkways, and ensuring flat paved surfaces on driveways and on sidewalks. It’s also important to study where rain puddles and perhaps freezes or grows slippery moss, which can be a function of settling or an unintentional water source (e.g., roof gutters that leak).
Even if the property insurance covers all costs related to a slip-and-fall accident, most experienced homeowners will relate how one or two claims will result in a policy cancellation. This forces the owner to seek out a new policy, which very often will come with a rate increase. The money spent on fixing problems before they occur can prevent all of that. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” in almost every situation.