The number one cause of injuries in Florida restaurants is slip and falls. These accidents most often occur because of spilled food or drink, uneven flooring, poor lighting or improper cleaning. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries every year.
Statistically the most seriously injured restaurant accident victims tend to be women. Fall down Injuries can range from mild back and neck strains to broken bones, spinal injuries, brain damage and even death. Broken hips are very frightening cases because if one falls at a Miami restaurant and breaks a hip it can often lead to many other serious health problems, such as a defective artificial hip implant, bed sores and even death.
For example, when an elderly customer has an accident in a North Miami restaurant, the injuries can be very severe. In fact, half of all elderly adults who trip and fall and break their hip are hospitalized and unable to return home or live independently again. This results in nearly 40% of nursing home admissions for elderly people who are recovering from a fall.
The costs to both the injured customer and the insurance companies that insure these establishments is staggering! 22% of all slip and falls result in an average of 31 days away from work.
In fact, the average restaurant has 6 slip and fall customer injuries every single year, many of which reach resolution without the need for a law suit. This is because it costs insurance companies nearly $50,000 to pay their lawyers to investigate and defend a typical slip and fall lawsuit in Florida. Plaintiffs win about 50% of the time when they go to court on restaurant injury cases in Florida. These are much better chances then for injured patients and their families who lose 90% of the time for their medical malpractice claims against doctors and hospitals.
When the injured customer does win, the average verdict for Florida food service is $85,840. After paying their lawyers, court costs and medical bills, they probably end up with about $20,000 two to three years after the accident occurs. That is why insurance companies such as Wausau will often settle claims early. It saves the insurance company money since they would have to pay their lawyers to both defend and appeal a potential verdict.
The National Floor Safety Institute is a not-for-profit organization focused on the prevention of slips, trips-and-falls through education, research and the implementation of safety standards. It has determined that 55% of falls occur as a result of the walking surfaces as opposed to 10% from failing to warn of a dangerous condition.
As a Miami lawyer who sues Florida restaurants and stores and we believe that they need to be more proactive about customer safety by employing a slip and fall prevention strategy which focuses on keeping their floors clean,safe and dry. To do this, restaurants should periodically asses their floor’s condition by measuring exactly how slippery their floors are. This is commonly referred to as the coefficient of friction, or tribometery of a walkway surface. This method is best used on common hard-surfaced flooring materials used in restaurants, bars and fast food locations such as as ceramic tile, vinyl floor coverings and wood laminates.
Floors should be tested by certified specialists with the appropriately calibrated tribometer. both when the floor is dry and wet. A tribometer is an instrument used to determine how slippery a restaurant’s floor is and can be under various conditions. The coefficient of friction of a given surface can change with time, use, humidity and maintenance. In addition, our Florida slip and fall injury attorneys suggest that all restaurants have monthly floor safety management meetings to discuss the prevention of slip, trip and falls for both customers and employees.
Mopping a wet floor in a restaurant is simply not enough to prevent someone from falling.
New innovations like the Hurricone cordless floor dryer should be used by more restaurants to prevent disabling slip and fall accidents. This device serves not only as a wet floor warning, but actually can decrease floor drying time by 90% over evaporation air drying. It uses a powerful fan and battery pack to force air out into a 360 degree space to dry wet floors. This is especially helpful for rain saturated door mats in South Florida after a storm.
Customer safety is an important part of customer satisfaction. We hope that Florida’s restaurants will focus as much attention in keeping their floors clean, dry and well maintained as they do on the quality and taste of their food.