Hurt from a trip and fall caused by a rug or carpet? This guide will help you pursue a claim to get the injury compensation you need.
Slip and fall injuries are extremely common in the United States, especially among seniors.¹ Some of the most common fall injury causes are trips on rugs or carpets.
Just looking at rugs, carpets, and other types of flooring, you might not think they look that dangerous. But in this case, looks are deceiving.
Like all home furnishings, area rugs and carpeting have a maximum usable life. When they become worn out, they can lose their grip on the floor or have curled edges, creating tripping hazards.
And for such common objects, the injuries caused by rugs can be serious and life-changing. Broken hands and arms, neck injuries, and even traumatic brain injury can result from stumbling over a rug or carpet. One small trip can put you out of work for months and result in tens of thousands of dollars in medical care.
This article will take a look at injuries resulting from a trip on rugs, carpets, mats, and similar floor coverings. After discussing some of the potential injuries themselves, we’ll examine the different places they can happen.
Your options for injury compensation can differ between accidents in and out of the home.
Injuries Caused by Rugs or Carpeting
When you think of dangerous items in your house, you probably think of kitchen knives, the stove, or maybe even a slippery bathtub. For most people, throw rugs don’t immediately come to mind.
But a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that about 37,991 falls were caused each year by carpets and rugs. Many of those victims were older adults, but slip and fall accidents can happen to any age group.
Rug vs. Carpet: What’s the difference?
When it comes to floor coverings, terminology can be confusing. Generally speaking, a carpeted floor covers a room from wall to wall and is attached to the subfloor. Rugs are moveable and come in various sizes. Throw rugs and runners are generally smaller versions of area rugs.
1. What Kinds of Injuries Can You Get?
The impacts of a slip, trip and fall caused by a floor covering can be deadly. A floor covering-related injury can be easily treatable, or devastating and life-changing. Unfortunately, you can’t know which it will be until a slip and fall happens to you or a loved one.
Examples of slip and fall injuries caused by floor coverings are:
- Sprains and muscle injuries
- Broken bones in the arms, legs, or neck
- Hip fractures
- Back injuries (including spinal cord injuries)
- Closed-head injuries (e.g., concussions or brain contusions)
- Skull fractures
2. How Can a Rug Cause These Injuries?
You may wonder how such serious injuries can result from a trip on a rug. There are actually several ways that floor coverings can cause serious injuries. Some of them are more obvious than others.
First, a throw rug or other covering on a hard surface can wear down over time. While most new throw rugs are designed not to slip out of place, a worn one may become more slick and likely to move beneath your feet, causing a nasty fall. Some rugs may have also been improperly designed or require a non-slip rug pad or skid backing to prevent them from slipping.
Second, both rugs and carpets may “bunch up” or get lumps as they are used. These lumps in rugs or carpeting are trip hazards. Curled edges of carpets and rugs can also create tripping hazards at the edge of the surface. This is particularly so where the color of a throw rug and the color of the underlying floor may be difficult to tell apart.
A third kind of hazard applies to mats or rugs used to clean or dry feet. Welcome mats or, in some businesses, rain mats will be placed at the entrances to buildings for use by visitors and occupants. If these surfaces are not properly secured or maintained, they can also pose deadly tripping hazards.
Trips and Falls on Private Property
Most falls related to floor surfaces happen in either your home or someone else’s. Rugs in the living room, kitchen, or bathroom can all present a fall risk.
While the location of the injury does not really affect the severity of the injury, it can greatly affect how you get compensated for your claim.
This is particularly so if you are injured in your own home. In someone else’s home, their homeowner’s insurance carrier may pay for your injury claim.
While your homeowner’s policy may compensate others who are injured on your property, it probably won’t compensate you for injuries to yourself or a family member.
This doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck if you are injured in your own home. It just means that you have to look elsewhere for compensation. This can include product liability claims against the company that designed or built your house or the floor covering.
In this case, you should consult with a personal injury attorney about your options. They can help you understand the legal details of your case, as well as the best way to deal with your injury claim.
Injuries from Rugs on Commercial or Public Property
Trip and falls on business property may present more options for compensation than falls at home.
Businesses will generally have commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies that cover accidents claims by people on business premises.
This would of course include injuries caused by furnishings of the business, including throw rugs, carpets, and floor mats.
CGL policies particularly help with claims caused by the negligence of a business. For example, let’s say that it’s a rainy day and a hotel puts absorbent mats next to the entry doors to prevent falls. However, the hotel employees who put the mats down do not leave them flat, and you trip over the lumpy mat. Here, a negligence claim against the CGL policy is probably best.
Public property (e.g., government offices, courthouses, etc.) may have similar insurance coverage, but keep in mind that any personal injury claim against a government entity like a city, county, or state is more complex.
Sovereign immunity may apply to your claim against any government. These sorts of claims also have strict notice requirements. In other words, you must give notification of your claim to the proper entities/government offices for your claim to survive. If you find yourself in this situation it’s important that you speak with a personal injury lawyer.
Watch Your Step
Rugs, carpets, and welcome mats all seem innocent enough. When used properly, they should be safe and reduce the risk of falls. The problem arises when a floor covering is designed or manufactured badly. Or perhaps it’s used in a negligent way by a property owner or business.
However they happen, trip and fall accidents resulting from floor coverings are a real danger.
If you or a loved one has been injured by tripping on a rug or other floor covering, you can get help today. It’s important not to delay, because statutes of limitation can prevent you from recovering compensation if you wait too long to bring a claim.
Contact a qualified personal injury law firm in your state for a free consultation.
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