Visitor Question

Slipped and fell on poorly maintained wet floor at work…

Submitted By: Ken (Lake Tapps, Washington)

I was returning equipment to my employer’s storage shed. I lost my footing, slipped and fell onto my right knee. The fall caused me to twist my back, straining my upper/lower back, right torso, pulling my left hamstring and bruising my right kneecap. I have filed an Labor and Industries (L&I) claim. My doctor placed me on 25 lb. light duty for 30 days, because requested I be allowed to return asap.

I am concerned that this injury could be the start of lifetime/long term back problems. I have no history of previous back problems. During the last week, I have been experiencing extreme upper/lower back pains, difficult sleeping at night, recurring muscle spasms, migraines/headaches and my right/left legs are going numb at times. I awake at times with sudden pains that run down the length of my leg.

My quality of life has suffered but I will continue visiting my doctor and follow her treatment plan.

The shed’s floor was wet, hadn’t been maintained for years, and the painted floor was peeling-up in many places. In general the floor was dirty from years of not being swept. The floor has no slip resistance coating/covering, no mats, no boot-brush to clean off boots, and no “Caution” / Slippery When Wet signs.

(I believe the floor was wet because boots track water/oil from the wet parking lot. The storage shed is placed directly on top of an asphalt pavement parking lot.) Do I have a case for negligence by my employer? My employer is a State Government Agency. Thank you for any information you can provide.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Ken,

The State of Washington relies on a State Workers Compensation program. The program is essentially a “no-fault” system of worker benefits. The no-fault aspect of the program eliminates the apportionment of blame to either a worker or an employer for workplace injuries or illnesses, sometimes called “Occupational Diseases.”

To be entitled to workers comp benefits a worker need only show he or she was injured while performing their customary work duties. Proving employer negligence is not required. See Washington Statutes Section 296-17-31003

The principal features of the program include:

  • Wage and medical benefits to employees who suffer on-the-job injuries or illnesses; and
  • Immunity from lawsuits against employers as a result of workplace injuries or illnesses suffered by their workers.

As a concession for not having to prove employer negligence, the worker forfeits his or her right to file a lawsuit against their employer.

Instead, workers injured while performing their work duties are entitled compensation for their medical bills, out-of-pocket costs relating to the injury and treatment, and about a third of their lost wages while they are treating and unable to work. Unfortunately, compensation for pain and suffering is not available.

Contact your employer immediately and report the injury. Once reported, your employer must complete and submit the claim form. You can also file your claim online at the L&I website.

You will soon thereafter hear from the workers comp insurance company and your claim will be underway.

Learn more here: Slip and Falls at Work

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck with your claim.

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