You board a cruise ship looking for a good time, you spot a game of cornhole, and you try your hand at throwing the beanbag into the wooden board across the way. Things come crashing down, literally, when you fall as you’re throwing and seriously injure yourself. Can you sue?
Yes, it’s possible, as seen by the lawsuit filed in May 2018 by Jeffrey J. Makuch, against Spirit Cruises LLC. In the lawsuit, Makuch alleged that a trip on the Spirit of Norfolk cruise ship two years earlier resulted in unspecified severe and permanent injuries. Makuch sought a settlement of $373,456 in damages.
Unfortunately, the day news of this lawsuit made national coverage in July 2018, Makuch also passed away. In this case, someone else may continue to pursue the lawsuit on Makuch’s behalf.
Let’s look at what led to this interesting personal injury lawsuit, what factors are important to prove the cruise line’s negligence, and how other businesses can avoid a no-slip-and-fall accident like this one.
No-skid flooring on a ship probably makes sense for business owners. With possible splashing from the water surrounding the ship, flooring could get wet at any time. As well, dinner cruises like the one Makuch attended are often filled with alcohol and other beverages. Installing a no-skid floor would mean if someone spilled their drink, other patrons wouldn’t fall from slipping on it. Patrons who get seasick or have a difficult time walking on boats might be less likely to fall with no-skid flooring, too.
At least, that’s what the cruise line may have been thinking when it installed that type of flooring on its deck. Makuch alleged that when he threw the beanbag, he was unable to properly shift his weight while stepping. That caused the fall.
In response to the lawsuit, the cruise ship line owners filed a reply stating that their flooring does not present a risk. In order for Makuch’s lawsuit to be successful, his personal injury lawyer team will need to prove negligence on behalf of the cruise line.
Slip and fall cases, or, in this instance, no-slip-and-fall cases, occur in a wide variety of settings. They can happen at a store, when a spill isn’t cleaned up and a shopper falls down. They could happen while someone is making a delivery, and they accidentally slip on grease. They can happen at a restaurant, where slippery new flooring has just been installed and poses a danger.
A wide variety of causes are cited in slip and fall accidents. These can include:
- Poor lighting
- Changes in flooring
- Torn carpets
- Wet floors
- Narrow stairs
- Hidden potholes
In order to prove that another party’s negligence is to blame in a slip and fall case, the following factors are examined.
Did another party cause the accident?
In cases where someone creates the dangerous condition that causes a slip and fall accident, they must also take steps to protect those who may come into contact with it. However, in cases where the victim’s carelessness is to blame, negligence is harder to prove. For example, if there is a “Warning: Slippery Floor” sign up, but someone walks on the floor and falls down anyway, they failed to heed the warning in this case.
Did another party fail to prevent the accident?
Sometimes hazards appear, and a slip and fall accident occurs immediately after. If the responsible party had no way of knowing about or preventing the accident, negligence will be questioned. However, if there is a reasonable amount of time that has passed where the venue operator should have corrected the situation or warned others about it, they may be deemed negligent.
Slip and fall accidents can happen on public property, at businesses, at other people’s homes and on government property. Anyone who is involved in a slip and fall accident should document the scene to show evidence of the hazards. If a claim is filed, negligence will have to be proven.
How to Prevent Injuries from Falling
If you own a business, this type of lawsuit is a reminder to always do your best to keep patrons safe. Even if you are accused of negligence but are deemed innocent in a slip and fall lawsuit, the publicity surrounding these types of cases can hurt a business reputation.
Protect a business from slip and fall injuries by doing the following.
Regularly walk through business space to identify hazards, including flooring hazards, lighting hazards and hazards on stairs.
Log all inspections.
If you see a hazard, mark it with a warning sign, or restrict access to it to prevent others from being hurt by it.
Fix or remove the hazard as quickly as possible.
Document work done on potential hazards.
Finally, listen to customer feedback about your space. If someone on a cruise ship is complaining that they almost fell because of the no-slip flooring, it might be time to research other types of building materials that improve the safety for patrons.