Any floor or surface can be a dangerous condition if it is slippery. In Washington and throughout the Puget Sound area, it is certainly foreseeable that rain will make any surface slippery unless measures are taken to make the floor or surface safe. A bit of science, however, is at play when determining whether your slip and fall injury can be the basis for a monetary recovery.
Engineers and experts in premises liability use a term called “coefficient of friction” to describe how slippery a surface is. The coefficient of friction will range from 0 to 1, with 0 being the slipperiest condition – such as ice – and 1.0 being the highest or stickiest. Washington courts have recognized the general rule of thumb that any surface below 0.5 is considered negligent.
Determining the coefficient of friction is usually necessary whenever we have instances where a person slips on a floor or surface without there being some obvious cause such as ice spilled on the floor or tripping over a negligently placed item in a store. We usually employ an expert in the field who can use a machine called a tribometer to calculate the coefficient of friction. Sometimes the expert will have to replicate the conditions from the time of your fall. For example, the marble entrance way to your apartment complex may be above the .5 coefficient of friction until it rains and becomes much lower than .5. Because we live in a damp climate, most paints and bricks have to contain some sort of slip-proofing to increase the coefficient of friction.
In our wet, rainy seasons, door mats and other preemptive measures are a must for any business or property owner when you enter the property. The mats also need to be kept in a safe manner to prevent persons from slipping or tripping on them.
If you slip on floors or surfaces that do not have sufficient slip-proofing or you believe the condition was unusually slippery, contact us. We often need extensive investigation and the use of outside resources, such as experts, to determine whether your case can move forward.
811 First Ave Suite 510
Seattle, WA 98104