Summer vacation time means beach time for many families. Some have to travel quite a distance to get to a beach location. Others are lucky enough to have a second home at the Shore where they spend their summers. Some summer safety issues include watching out for drunk drivers who have been partying at the beach, and anything related to water safety, but slip and fall dangers are often overlooked. Slip and fall accidents at the beach can range from an embarrassing but minor fall to a serious accident with lifelong consequences. Beachgoers should be aware of the slip and fall dangers that exist so that they can avoid spending precious vacation time in the emergency room.
What are Some Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents at the Beach?
Like slip and fall accidents anywhere, the presence of water is a problem because it makes surfaces slick and slippery. At the beach, slippery surfaces that could cause a slip and fall include:
- Wet sand.
- Wet cement at outdoor showers.
- Pool decks.
- Beach restaurants. Outdoor seating areas may have surfaces that are wet and slippery from rain, guests with wet bathing suits or gear, or spilled drinks and food.
Boardwalks are loved by the beachgoing public as a place to meet, walk, bike, run, and enjoy the shoreline. However, they present many different dangers when ill maintained. A slip and fall on a boardwalk can happen anytime, during any season, not just in summer, and often when users least expect it. These are some common safety hazards that can cause a boardwalk slip and fall:
- Surfaces wet with precipitation or ocean spray.
- Plant debris or overgrowth such as leaves and moss.
- Uneven, split, rotting, or broken boards.
- Missing boards.
- Nails or screws protruding from boards.
- Uneven surfaces where the boardwalk changes from wood to concrete.
- Spilled food and drink from tourists.
Boardwalks are heavily traveled and used by both pedestrians and cyclists. Wooden boardwalks can warp and bend from traffic and weather. Regardless of the construction materials used for a boardwalk, whether wood or composite, boardwalks must be regularly inspected for safety hazards and repaired when necessary.
What are Some Common Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents at the Beach?
Injuries from slip and falls at the beach are often minor, but a minor injury can develop into a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical care and affects a person’s quality of life. Minor injuries from slip and falls include sprains and strains, torn tendons, cuts and lacerations, bruises, and broken bones.
Someone unlucky enough to experience a serious slip and fall accident could be left with a debilitating condition such as paralysis, or spinal cord damage from a traumatic head injury, neck injury, or back injury. Serious injuries can take months or years to heal and require multiple surgeries and extensive hospital stays. During that time, it may be impossible to work, resulting in lost income at a time when medical bills are piling up. Rehabilitation therapy may also be necessary to return to pre-injury condition. What started out as a day at the beach may turn into a medical nightmare after a slip and fall accident.
Who is Liable after a Slip and Fall at the Beach?
Liability for any slip and fall depends on where the accident happens. It must be determined who owns the property where the accident occurred and is therefore responsible for its maintenance. Beach slip and falls can be complicated because beaches and boardwalks are often owned by government entities. However, slip and fall accidents at beachfront theme parks, shopping centers, hotels, and restaurants are a different story. These places owe what is known as a duty of care to people who patronize them. This means the property owner has a responsibility to look out for the safety of anyone using the premises. A breach of this duty of care could mean the owner was negligent in removing safety hazards.
Premises liability law generally says that property owners must regularly inspect their premises for safety hazards and repair or remove them promptly. They must also respond promptly to complaints about any safety hazards. Any safety hazards that cannot be repaired or removed in a timely manner must be marked clearly with a warning. Failure to take these steps could mean the property owner must pay compensation to someone who slips and falls on the premises. Compensation for a slip and fall accident could include medical costs present and future, lost wages present and future, pain and suffering, emotional damages, and loss of enjoyment.
Properties owned by government entities are subject to different standards and laws regarding liability. For example, in New Jersey, state law requires that the plaintiff show that there was a dangerous condition, the town was aware of it, and that there was a foreseeable risk of injury. The injury resulting from the accident must be related to the dangerous condition, and the town’s response to the problem must be palpably unreasonable. A case cannot proceed unless all these conditions are met.
Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer is a good way to determine what legal options exist after a slip and fall at the beach. Every case is unique, and a knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of the accident as well as the resulting injuries to assess what kind of compensation a victim can expect to receive if their complaint is successful.
Wilmington Personal Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Recover Compensation for Those Injured in Slip and Fall Accidents at the Beach
If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall accident at the beach, contact the skilled Wilmington personal injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Our experienced team will investigate your accident and build a strong case to get you the compensation you need. Call us today at (302) 427-9500 or complete our online form to schedule a free legal consultation. From our offices in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we proudly represent clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.