Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 9 million visits to hospital emergency rooms every year (National Safety Council Injury Facts).
In 2015, professional Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard sued the United States Tennis Association after falling on a ‘slippery, foreign and dangerous substance’. The 21-year-old sustained a concussion after slipping and falling backwards injuring her head and elbow in a dark physiotherapy room at the 2015 US Open and is claiming negligence. The lawsuit was filed because of her fall in the locker-room at Flushing Meadows, New York on September 4, when she sustained a severe head injury that continues to hinder her ability to play tennis. Ms. Bouchard says that the cause of her fall – that occurred around midnight after she had completed a mixed-doubles match and then met with the media—was a “slippery, foreign and dangerous substance” that had been left on the floor of the locker-room. The substance involved was not specified in the court papers. The substance was used to clean the floors but was not supposed to be present while players were still using the facilities. Ms. Bouchard was forced to pull out of the U.S. Open and continued to struggle during the 2015 season with dizziness and light sensitivity. Her lawyer believes the lawsuit could be worth millions of dollars because the incident has affected her ability to compete as well as her world ranking.
What Should Have Been Done Differently?
In this case, the locker-room attendant should have verified that all players were done using the locker-room at the end of the day’s matches before beginning to clean the floor. And, the attendant should not have turned the lights off in the locker-room until they were certain no other people would be entering.