Raised Threshold is an Expensive Hazard

Loss Amount: $133,000

Situation: An older community animal hospital had a metal framed lobby entrance door with the bottom threshold raised more than an inch from the floor. Over the years there had been several complaints of customers having trouble with this entrance, but the owner had not taken any actions. As could be expected, eventually there was a serious accident. An elderly gentleman was entering the practice with his dog and tripped over the threshold, falling hard onto the tiled lobby floor. He suffered contusions to his upper body and head.

The man was treated for his injuries, and in the months that followed he suffered a hematoma and multiple strokes. His claim became litigated and, although the link between the hematoma and strokes and the accident was questionable, a settlement was agreed to. This was due in part to damaging statements by staff overheard by the claimant regarding prior incidents where patrons had difficulty with the entrance, and the lack of response by the owner.

Lesson Learned: Clients of animal hospitals are more likely to trip and fall over hazards than the average retail customer. This is because they are either being distracted by their pets or having their view obstructed by them. For this reason it is important to be ever vigilant about possible hazards within pathways.

  • Inspect the premises on a routine basis to identify potential slip, trip and fall hazards.
  • If possible, eliminate uneven floor surface hazards such as could be done in this case.
  • Relocate potential slip, trip and fall hazards if possible, such as with floor scales, to reduce the hazard. Items such as this should be placed in an area with minimal foot traffic.
  • Use railings and visual warning indicators such as caution tape, painted edges, or conspicuous signage to address floor surface hazards that cannot be eliminated. These may not be as effective at preventing an accident, but they may also help in the defense of future litigation.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.