A recent story in the Minneapolis Tribune seemed to contradict a basic premise of premise liability cases and of personal injury law in general—that compensating people injured as a result of the negligence of another, a business in this case, is a way to convince the negligent party to change his or her conduct so that others will not suffer the same fate.
Injured parties are compensated for their medical bills, lost wages, and for pain and suffering. Presumably, a business owners whose premises was the site of a slip and fall or other hazardous condition that led to an injury, would be motivated to repair the condition so that they would not have to incur additional costs should a similar injury occur again.
Instead, a slip and fall expert, who has testified in hundreds of cases, told the Tribune that in his experience, businesses often failed to do anything to remove a hazard that they know was the cause of an accident that led to an injury claim. To them, it was a matter of cost-benefit analysis. The chances of an injury or of a claim being asserted was slight enough so that it cost them less to take the risk and not incur the expense of repairing or removing the hazard.
It was also revealed that many businesses that allegedly document their cleanup operations routinely falsify their records. Their excuse is that it is too costly to maintain a cleaning regimen, and that it cost less to risk another slip and fall injury claim.
Another study by CNA, an insurance company, indicated that in 2008, there were about 1 million slip and fall accidents resulting in 16,000 fatalities. Slip and falls are also the leading cause of nonfatal accidents treated in emergency rooms.