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Understanding How Friction Contributes To Slip And Fall Cases


Have you ever walked on a surface, and there is nothing on that surface, no foreign substance or water or dirt…and yet, it just feels very slippery? There’s a reason for that. Every surface has what is known as a coefficient of friction, and that’s a number or calculation that can play a large role in a sip and fall case.

The Role of Friction

You probably already know friction just from its everyday usage. Surfaces with higher friction tend to be stickier or tackier. Surfaces with lowered friction are more slippery. Different surfaces have different coefficients of friction; a floor that is smooth polished marble will have a lower coefficient of friction than an asphalt flooring.

But friction is not that easy; often there are multiple variables at work that can alter or affect the friction level.

Wear and Tear and Foreign Substances

One variable is simple wear and tear; a surface that has a higher level of friction can have lowered friction over time, as the top layer of the surface wears down, becoming smoother.

Of course, as seen in many slip and fall cases, a substance put on any type of floor will lower friction—although by how much, depends on the surface underneath.

Imagine an asphalt parking lot pavement. Spilling water on that pavement won’t make it very slippery at all. But put water on the smooth floor inside a department store, and now there is a very high chance of a slip and fall.

What You are Wearing

Your shoes also affect friction, which is why in any slip and fall case, you must preserve the shoes you were wearing as they are evidence in your case. The Defendant will want to see the condition of the bottom of your shoes, because that surface interacts with the floor underneath, to increase or lower the coefficient of friction.

We recognize this in our daily lives—have you ever had a pair of shoes that over time, the soles wear down, and the shoes seem to slip no matter what kind of surface they are on? Put, for example, a smoothed out, worn down rubber sole on a smooth tile surface—especially one with some water or liquid on it—and you then have a problem of too little friction.

High Friction is Dangerous Also

Too much friction can actually be a problem as well. If there is too much friction, your feet can stick so much that you can actually end up tripping. A small amount of friction is needed for you to be able to safely walk over any kind of surface.


Where there is a dispute, experts will look at the coefficient of friction, and give opinions about how surfaces, shoes, or foreign debris reacts with one another, to lower the coefficient of friction to an extent that it causes or contributes to falls.

Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help with your slip and fall case.




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