Slip and Fall at Work: Do I Have a Lawsuit?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Statistics collected by the National Safety Council (NSC) show that falls are among the top three leading causes of preventable injuries and fatalities. Falls, such as the type that occurs in a slip and fall, caused 20% of avoidable deaths and 33% of injuries in the United States.
According to the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA), workplace falls, slips, and trips result in thousands of nonfatal injuries yearly. Although fatality rates are higher in the construction and tree trimming industries, slip and fall injuries are consistent across all sectors.
If you slip and fall at work, one of the first questions on your mind may be whether you can sue your employer. The experienced slip and fall attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can provide you with the information, legal assistance, and compassion you need to determine whether you have a case and should sue.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Slip and Falls at Work?
Slip and falls can happen to anyone and nearly any type of work environment in Michigan. Regardless of your occupation, be it retail or construction, the primary causes of slip and fall accidents at work often include:
- Wet and slippery floors. Wet and slick surfaces rank as top contributors to slip and fall incidents. These conditions can result from water spills or other materials like oils, cleaning agents, or chemicals. Floors that have recently been mopped or waxed also fall into this category of slippery surfaces.
- Snowy or icy floors. During Michigan’s colder months, walkways often become covered with snow, ice, and sleet, increasing the risk of slip and fall accidents. Typical scenarios include parking lots glazed with ice and sleet and pathways blanketed in snow.
- Uneven or unsafe flooring. Unexpected changes to a walkable surface can create dangerous conditions and increase the risk of a slip and fall incident. Examples include uneven floor surfaces, dips or cracks under the flooring, and loose or unsecured carpets.
Stairways can also be considered uneven surfaces if there is an unexpected step between floors of two different elevations or steps of various sizes in a staircase.
- Obstructed or cluttered walk spaces. Walkways, corridors, and other areas with frequent foot traffic should be free of obstacles. Leaving equipment or objects in these walkways increases the risk of a trip, slip, or fall. For example, restaurant walkways should be free of food containers, cooking equipment, and trash cans. An employee can trip or slip on any of them, causing a fall.
Clutter can also worsen a slip and fall incident; a falling employee can hit obstacles during their fall and cause additional injuries.
- Dim lighting. Dim or inadequate lighting in walk spaces can make slip and fall accidents more likely. Insufficient lighting in potentially dangerous areas like store rooms or loading docks can cause employees to miss hazards, such as uneven flooring or slippery surfaces.
- Loose cables. Loose and unsecured cables running across corridors, walkways, and other spaces are another common cause of tripping and falling. Cables of all types and sizes can be found in various work environments, from offices to construction worksites, making them a common danger.
The likelihood of tripping over cables increases if they are not easily distinguishable from their surroundings. For instance, cables that are darker in color may become less noticeable against a similarly dark floor.
Steps to Follow After a Slip and Fall at Work in Michigan
If you slip, trip, or fall at work in Michigan, remain calm and take the following actions. Doing so ensures your safety and positions yourself favorably to claim the compensation you deserve.
Seek Medical Attention
After a slip and fall, even if you don’t feel hurt, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Share as much detail as you can about the fall, as this helps provide an accurate diagnosis and identify any injuries that might not be immediately obvious.
Ensure your well-being by following your doctor’s recommendations and adhering to any treatment plan you receive. This will also bolster your compensation claim.
Report the Incident
Make sure to report your slip and fall incident as soon as possible in accordance with your workplace’s protocols. Procedures vary based on company policies, size, and work environment.
File a Worker’s Compensation Claim
If you sustain an injury from a slip and fall accident at your workplace, you may be eligible for workers’ comp. The Michigan Civil Service Commission advises following these steps:
- Notify your supervisor immediately after the incident, but no later than 90 days.
- Seek treatment at an Occupational Healthcare Clinic. These clinics are staffed with healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, and occupational health specialists, who are trained to address work-related injuries, illnesses, and health assessments.
- Apply for a workers’ compensation claim online or print, complete, and fax the completed Michigan Workers’ Compensation Claim Form to your supervisor or HR office. Claims must be filed within two years, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to receive benefits.
Document your Injuries
Detailed records are legal evidence of the injuries, allowing your attorney to accurately evaluate your potential compensation. Additionally, they play a vital role in the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim and ensuring you receive the entitled benefits.
Document your injuries by doing the following:
- Take pictures of scars, wounds, bruises, and other visible injuries.
- Keep copies of all medical reports, bills, diagnoses, and prescriptions.
- Maintain a diary and log your pain and symptoms daily.
Eileen Kroll, our senior partner, brings valuable experience as a registered nurse to our team. Her expertise enables Eileen to thoroughly examine your medical records and provide precise insights into the significance of your injuries and medical treatments.
Get Witness Contact Information
If you slip and fall and coworkers or bystanders see you fall, ask for their names and contact information. If they agree to give a statement and are okay with being recorded, you can jot down their remarks or use your phone to record them. Along with essential details like their name, job title, and contact information, consider asking these questions to get more comprehensive statements from them:
- Where were you when you saw me slip and fall at work?
- What was the exact time and date when you saw the incident?
- Can you describe the sequence of events as you remember it?
- Can you describe what I was doing just before the fall?
- Do you recall what injuries I sustained, whether I was in pain, or if I lost consciousness?
- How did you react to the fall? How did other people react?
Can You Sue if You Are Injured by a Slip and Fall on the Job?
If you slip and fall at work while working for a Michigan employer, you generally cannot sue your employer for damages due to the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act.
This act makes filing a workers’ compensation claim the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries or illnesses. However, there is an exception for intentional injuries, allowing you to sue your employer if you believe they deliberately caused the conditions for your slip and fall.
Examples of Intentional Tort Slip and Fall Work Accidents
These examples involve intentional actions by employers that may allow employees to sue for damages beyond workers’ compensation.
|Hazardous Obstacle Placement
|Deliberate placement of obstacles causing slips or falls
|Unsafe Workplace Conditions
|Creating dangerous conditions knowingly
|Negligent actions taken with the intent to harm
|Lack of Safety Measures
|Failure to implement safety measures intentionally
|Actions taken with malicious intent causing accidents
|Deliberate tampering with safety equipment or tools
|Withholding Safety Information
|Intentionally concealing safety information or hazards
|Making false promises regarding workplace safety
|Creating hazardous situations in retaliation
How Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Can Help
Proving an intentional act in the workplace typically requires demonstrating that the employer deliberately and knowingly created hazardous conditions that led to the injury. This can involve evidence such as:
- Witness testimonies. Statements from coworkers who can testify to the deliberate act or hazardous circumstances.
- Documentation. Any written evidence, emails, or records showing knowledge of the hazards.
- Surveillance footage. Video evidence that captures the intentional act or unsafe practices.
- Prior incidents. Past instances where similar intentional acts or unsafe conditions occurred.
- Expert testimony. Expert witnesses who can analyze the situation and confirm it was intentional.
How Long Do I Have to Sue for a Slip and Fall in Michigan?
Michigan has a three-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in slip and fall cases. Acting promptly within this timeframe protects your legal rights to compensation for your injuries. Our team can assist you in managing this timeframe to:
- Gather evidence and documentation related to your case.
- Assess liability and identify responsible parties.
- Negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement.
- Initiate legal proceedings if necessary, ensuring timely filing.
Receive Legal Help After a Slip and Fall At Work
The slip and fall attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., fight for the rights of workers in Michigan. We help you understand your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you need after a slip and fall accident at work.
We will help you navigate the legal process, file the necessary paperwork within the statute of limitations, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you in court if needed. Our goal is to secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses resulting from intentional acts in the workplace.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.