Slip and Fall Science

When it comes to the slip and fall case, or the trip and fall case, we often turn to the experts to help us prove our case at trial.  In the mean time, how are we to think about the case?  How did the accident happen?  What caused these serious injuries?

The professional engineers that we hire, or that we refer to in analyzing a case refer to two types of friction between a foot and the floor:  static friction and dynamic friction

Static Friction and Slip and Fall Accidents

This is the ratio of tangential force that you need to begin motion from one surface in relation to the other.

Dynamic Friction and Slip and Fall Accidents

This is the relation of the tangential force you need to maintain a steady motion of one surface to the other.

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How does the Engineer Look at these Types of Friction?

They look a the force required to move an object (a shoe) along a surface (the floor/mall walkway/deck)

When we walk, one foot is generally placed in front of another.  Our body weight shifts from one foot to the other.  The heel of one foot is placed on the floor surface in front of the other foot.  When that heel is being placed on the floor in front of us, we are somewhat unstable:  there is the least amount of friction between the foot/shoe, and the floor, because it is just the edge of the heel at the outset.  At this point, the coefficient of friction must be sufficient or a slip may occur.  If there is insufficient friction, the foot with the heel sliding into place may slide forward and the person may fall backward.

Trip and Fall

However, if there is an object in the way, or, if the person anticipates a floor and there is none, a trip may occur.   In that instance, your upper body does not anticipate missing the step and your body continues forward.  You fall forward.

How does the Expert Measure For Slip, and Trip, Cases?

They use tools and tests.  One tool is the sled.  The engineer employs a sled to drag across the floor where you were injured.  They can then measure the friction by calculating how much force was necessary to move the sled.

Another test is to secure a material that is the same as the floor where you fell, put your shoe on it, tilt it until the angle where it begins to slide.  Using that angle, the engineer can calculate the static coefficient of friction for that surface.

Professional engineers also use a variable incidence tribometer, which is a tool that mimics a foot striking a surface and can be calibrated to determine where the slip would occur.   Of course the calculations take into account the weight of the person, the type of shoe, and how the shoe was placed on the surface.

Using Experts in Serious Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Cases

When you have been seriously insured by the negligence of your landlord, the mall owner, or other building owner, you need the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer and an expert in slip and fall science.  The attorneys at Burns & Jain have been representing victims of slip or trip and fall cases for decades.  They hire professional engineers and experts when necessary.  Together, your team of experts will put you in the best position to win your case and get you the most damages awarded.

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