Learn about your rights after an injury caused by a defective ladder
Ladders are essential tools used in a wide range of settings throughout Florida, including homes, playgrounds and waterparks. However, when not designed or used properly, they can become potential hazards, leading to catastrophic injuries and even wrongful death.
With its warm climate and abundance of swimming pools and waterslides, Florida is no stranger to ladder-related accidents. In this article, we’ll discuss common causes of ladder accidents that lead to injuries and how to prove negligence through a personal injury claim.
Leading causes of ladder accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half a million people are injured and more than 300 die each year because of ladder injuries.
Some ladder accidents are attributed to user error, but others are the result of negligence on the part of a manufacturer or property owner. Some of the most common reasons for ladder injuries include the following:
- Lack of proper ladder selection. Using the wrong type or size of ladder for a particular task can lead to instability and accidents.
- Improper use. Incorrect ladder placement, overreaching or using a ladder on an unstable surface can increase the risk of falls from heights.
- Defective ladders. Ladders that are poorly designed, manufactured or maintained can be prone to collapse or failure, leading to serious injuries for the user.
- Inadequate supervision. In public spaces, like swimming pools, waterparks and amusement parks, a lack of supervision while using a ladder can contribute to accidents and potential liability.
- Inadequate maintenance. Ladders that are not regularly inspected and maintained can become unsafe, increasing the chances of accidents.
- Non-compliance with safety regulations. Failure to adhere to safety standards and regulations printed on the ladder’s label can result in preventable accidents.
- Weather conditions. Adverse weather conditions, like rain or snow, can make surfaces slippery and increase the likelihood of ladder accidents.
Common ladder injuries
Ladder accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, including:
- Brain injuries and concussions are caused by hitting your head on a hard surface after a fall. Hitting your head is often a medical emergency, as it can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is considered life-threatening.
- Spinal cord injuries can occur after a fall if the vertebrae in the back or neck become severed, compressed, or otherwise damaged. This can lead to paralysis.
- Internal organ damage to gastrointestinal organs, the heart, the spleen or the lungs can occur during a fall from a ladder, leading to internal bleeding and death if left untreated.
- Broken bones or fractures range from mild to severe depending on the location and often affect bones in the wrists, arms and legs.
- Soft tissue injuries such as sprained muscles, torn ligaments or damaged tendons are not always obvious immediately but instead may present themselves a few days after an accident. Though these are often less severe than other fall injuries, they can cause significant discomfort and prevent you from participating in your normal daily activities, including work.
- Abrasions and cuts are common when falling onto an uneven or abrasive surface. Without proper treatment, these injuries can lead to serious infections.
Should I go to the ER for a ladder injury?
After a ladder fall, you may be tempted to just “shake it off” and keep going. But in most cases, even if you feel fine, you should still visit the emergency room. This is especially true if you:
- Hit your head during the fall
- Cannot put weight on your leg or foot without pain
- Feel faint or feel dizzy
- Have symptoms like abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, or swelling in the abdomen, which could indicate internal injuries
Remember, even if an injury seems minor at first, some injuries don’t always show immediate symptoms but become problematic over time. Seeking prompt medical attention can ensure proper diagnosis and treatment and potentially prevent complications.
Additionally, by going to the hospital, you’ll have documentation of your accident, which could prove helpful later on if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If you’re in doubt or concerned about the extent of your injury, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek medical treatment.
Thinking about filing a lawsuit after a ladder accident? Get started with our comprehensive guide to filing a personal injury lawsuit.
When can I file a lawsuit after a ladder injury?
You may be able to sue for a ladder accident under certain circumstances, as long as the accident was caused by the negligence or wrongful actions of another party. Some common situations that could lead to a potential lawsuit include the following:
- The ladder was defective. If the ladder was poorly designed or manufactured or had a defect that caused the accident, you may have grounds to sue the ladder manufacturer or distributor for product liability. Additionally, if the manufacturer failed to provide proper instructions or warnings on the product label, they may also be liable through a personal injury lawsuit.
- A property owner was negligent. If you were injured on someone else’s property, such as a hotel swimming pool, in a slip-and-fall accident involving a ladder, you might have a premises liability claim against the property owner if they failed to maintain safe conditions.
- Another person was negligent. If your ladder accident was caused by the negligence of another individual, such as someone knocking the ladder over or causing a distraction, you may have a personal injury claim against that individual.
To determine whether you have a valid case after a ladder accident, it’s essential that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. They can assess the details of your ladder accident, identify liable parties, and advise you on the best steps to pursue fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
What types of product defects lead to negligence?
Defective products generally fall into 1 of 3 categories for personal injury lawsuits:
- Design defects. These are situations in which the design itself is faulty enough to cause and/or fail to prevent injuries.
- Manufacturers defects. These occur when a properly designed product is not produced or manufactured according to the required standards.
- Failure to warn. This occurs when consumers are not appropriately advised on safety hazards or the necessary precautions for using an item.
Who may be liable in a ladder accident?
Several parties may be liable in a ladder accident, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. Potentially liable parties could include the following:
- Ladder manufacturers
- Ladder distributors or retailers
- Property owners or managers where the injury occurred
- Negligent individuals who caused the accident
Proving negligence after a ladder accident
In calculating damages, courts determine whether or not an individual was negligent. To prove negligence, you will need to show that:
- The responsible party had an obligation to use reasonable care to keep you from becoming injured;
- That individual or entity breached that responsibility; and
- You suffered damages as a direct result of the breach.
If you can prove all of these elements, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
What compensation is available through a personal injury lawsuit?
Following a ladder accident, you could be entitled to recover damages for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How can an attorney help after a ladder accident?
The last thing you want when dealing with a serious injury is the stress of filing a lawsuit and pursuing compensation. A skilled attorney can help by conducting a thorough investigation into the accident to determine if the ladder was defective or improperly designed. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, and work with experts to establish liability.
They can also handle all negotiations with the negligent party and prepare your case for trial if negotiations aren’t successful, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Florida congressman injured in ladder accident
Early in 2023, Florida Congressman Greg Stuebe was injured in a ladder accident at his home. Representative Stuebe was cutting tree limbs at his Sarasota home when he fell from approximately 25 feet, resulting in a brief stay in the ICU. Negligence was not reported as a potential cause of the accident.
Furniture company fined more than $3 million for faulty ladders
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), retailer Cinmar was fined $3.1 million for failing to report defects in its line of Frontgate ladders that were designed for walk-in closets. The CPSC alleged that Cinmar knew about the defects yet did not stage a voluntary recall for 5 more years. In addition to fines, Cinmar agreed to implement and maintain a compliance program under the supervision of the CPSC to prevent similar future incidents.
Contact an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney
If you’ve been injured in a ladder-related accident in Florida, you need a personal injury law firm with experience in premises liability lawsuits against large corporations and businesses. At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and skills to build a solid case that brings you maximum compensation for your injuries. Over our many years in business, we’re proud to have helped our clients win cases against some of the biggest corporations in Tampa, and we can help you too.