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How Clothing & Shoes Affect Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and Fall

Comparative Negligence in New York

Comparative negligence is a legal doctrine that plays a crucial role in personal injury cases in New York. It is essential for both plaintiffs and defendants to understand how this principle operates, as it directly impacts the outcome of litigation and the compensation that may be awarded.

In essence, comparative negligence assesses the degree of fault among all parties involved in an incident, allocating responsibility and adjusting compensation accordingly. Under New York law, the comparative negligence system is "pure," meaning that a plaintiff can recover damages even if they are found to be 99% at fault for the incident. However, the catch is that the compensation awarded will be reduced by the plaintiff's percentage of fault.

For example, if a court awards $100,000 in damages but finds the plaintiff 30% responsible for the accident, the plaintiff's recovery would be reduced to $70,000. This approach allows for a more nuanced and equitable distribution of damages, reflecting each party's contribution to the accident.

The process of determining comparative negligence involves a thorough investigation and presentation of evidence. Both sides will present their case, including any relevant witness testimony, surveillance footage, accident reports, and expert opinions. The jury, court, or will then assess the evidence and assign a percentage of fault to each party. This determination is critical, as it directly influences the financial outcome of the case.

Comparative Negligence in Slip & Fall Accidents

Property owners have a duty to maintain a reasonably safe environment. This includes cleaning up spills, fixing uneven surfaces, and ensuring proper lighting. If they fail to do so and it leads to your slip and fall, they could be liable. But, the property owner can argue you were also careless.

Maybe you were texting while walking and didn't see the hazard, or you were wearing shoes with poor traction on a wet floor. In these cases, the owner might claim comparative negligence. Below, we will go into further detail about the role that your outfit can play in such an accident.

Your Shoes Can Contribute to a Slip or Fall

Certain shoes can be like greased wheels on slick surfaces, making you more prone to a slip-and-fall accident. Here's a breakdown of footwear features that heighten fall risk and tips for choosing shoes that keep you steady on your feet:

  • Shoes with low traction:
    • Smooth soles. These can be found on dress shoes, some loafers, and certain ballet flats. They offer minimal grip on wet floors, loose gravel, or uneven terrain.
    • Worn-out treads. The grooves on your shoes' soles are designed for traction. Over time, that tread wears down, reducing grip significantly.
    • Flip-flops and sandals. These offer minimal foot protection and can easily flop off your feet, causing a tripping hazard.
  • Shoes that reduce stability:
    • High heels. Stilettos and other narrow-heeled shoes transfer most of your weight to a small area of your forefoot, impacting balance.
    • Sneakers with modifications. If you have Heelys or shoes with soles that have arches or unique shapes, you should be mindful of when and where you wear them.
  • Shoes not meant for the conditions:
    • Running shoes on ice. While designed for traction, running shoes aren't ideal for icy conditions. They lack the aggressive treads needed to bite into the ice.
    • Everyday shoes for hiking. Sneakers or flats provide little ankle support and insufficient tread for uneven hiking trails, increasing the risk of rolling an ankle.

Now that we've identified some risky footwear choices, here are features to look for in slip-resistant shoes:

  • Deep treads. Look for soles with deep grooves or lugs that can grip various surfaces.
  • Rubber or soft TPU shoes. These materials provide better traction than leather or plastic soles.
  • Properly fitted shoes. Shoes that fit well prevent your foot from slipping around inside, giving you more control.
  • Weather-appropriate. When it's wet or icy, you should prioritize shoes with good tread depth. For snow, insulated boots with aggressive treads are ideal.

How Your Clothing Can Contribute to an Accident

While footwear often takes center stage in slip-and-fall accidents, clothing choices can also play a surprising role. Baggy or loose-fitting garments can pose a tripping hazard. Long pants that bunch around the ankles or have excessively wide cuffs can snag under your shoes, causing a loss of balance.

Similarly, flowing skirts or dresses that brush the floor can catch on uneven surfaces or your own feet, leading to a trip. This is especially true on stairs or escalators where loose fabric can get caught on steps or moving parts.

The risk extends beyond tripping. Loose clothing can also impede your ability to react quickly to a slip. If you lose traction on a wet surface, for example, baggy clothing can limit your leg movement and make it harder to regain your footing. This can increase the severity of a fall.

Get Legal Counsel

For individuals involved in personal injury disputes in New York, understanding the comparative negligence rule is paramount. It underscores the importance of gathering comprehensive evidence and presenting a strong case. Whether you are a plaintiff seeking compensation or a defendant aiming to minimize your liability, recognizing how comparative negligence can shape the resolution of your case is essential for an effective legal strategy.

Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli offer clients comprehensive counsel. Should you or a loved one be injured in a slip-and-fall accident, we can help you with your case. From helping you establish liability to calculating your damages, gathering evidence, answering your questions, and examining what the opposing counsel may use to assign you fault for the accident, our attorney provides clients with personalized attention and counsel.

If you are injured in a premises liability accident, our firm is here to help. Call (516) 628-6402 to discuss your case with us.

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