Slips and Falls: To whose benefit?

The respected ancient Roman judge Lucius Cassius, when looking for who might be guilty of a crime, liked to ask, “Cui bono?” — “to whose benefit?” The guilty party is likely to be one who profited from the crime.

Slips and falls leading to injury and sometimes to premature death (68 deaths per day in the USA) are disturbingly frequent in the United States, where little exists in the way of effective regulations to prevent them. Why should this be? The costs to American society are in the billions each and every year. Slip-resistant flooring generally costs no more to buy than flooring that’s slippery under its conditions of use (for instance, wet or greasy).

The main reason may be that many people benefit from this unhealthy slip and fall situation, while relatively few suffer. Those who suffer:

  • Accident victims and their families and other loved ones
  • Employers who are deprived of the victims’ services
  • Property owners who may lose time and money

On the other hand, who benefits financially from slips and falls and slippery flooring that causes them?

  • Architects and designers who have a larger choice of floor products
  • Vendors who sell the slippery flooring without offering helpful safety advice
  • Paramedics, hospitals and medical personnel
  • Funeral homes
  • Plaintiff attorneys, who can get big payoffs if they win or settle
  • Defense attorneys, who get paid by the hour
  • Expert witnesses (medical, safety, psychological, financial, etc.) for both sides
  • Property insurers who get to raise their premiums based on losses

Some countries, notably Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have standards that if followed prevent most slips. However, the situation in the USA is not likely to change soon. Tread carefully!

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