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5 common, avoidable reasons for slip and fall accidents

Every year, about 8 million Americans end up in the emergency room after a fall. That's just over 21 percent of all emergency room visits. About 1 million visits come after a slip and fall accident.

These stats may be startling, but they underscore just how real this problem is. Falls, often portrayed as comical, are no laughing matter. An incredible amount of time, energy and money gets put into injury treatment every single year. As such, you may want to consider the following reasons for falls:

1. The weather.

In the winter, the weather plays an enormous role in slip and fall cases. Maybe it's ice not properly cleared from a sidewalk. Maybe it's snow left to accumulate on the stairs. Maybe it's just wet shoes on tile floors when you get inside. Whatever the reason, it all comes back to that winter weather.

2. Wet floors.

As noted above, wet floors play a big role, but this doesn't always mean water was tracked in from outside. A broken pipe could flood part of a hotel or a spill in a grocery store could leave the floor soaked while it's cleaned up. Slips on wet floors are especially problematic because, while you may be ready for a potential fall in blustery winter weather outside, you're not expecting it inside. You can go down very awkwardly.

3. Other flooring issues.

Flooring issues can take on many forms. Too much wax could be applied. Floor tiles could be loose or broken. Non-slip surfaces may be used improperly or not used at all. Wear and tear can make a floor uneven. A change in conditions from one part of the floor to the next can take you by surprise, expecting traction that's no longer there.

4. Floor coverings.

In some cases, floor coverings are used to increase safety, but it can backfire. For example, tiles may be deemed too slick, and carpet could be used. However, carpet that is installed poorly, overly worn, or not replaced at the proper time can be a serious threat. Rugs and mats can also be problematic when they become worn, frayed, and curled at the edges. Though the intent was to help, you may have inadvertently been put in more danger.

5. Unmaintained stairs.

Outdoor stairs become hazardous in the snow and ice, and the risk just climbs when they're not properly maintained. One stair could come loose with time. The handrail may be loose, broken, or entirely missing. The stairs could be covered in debris or trash, which then becomes frozen and covered in snow, providing a hidden trip hazard. The stairs could be far too steep, perhaps not even built to code, a real issue when ice makes each one slick.

If you're one of the 8 million Americans who ends up in an emergency room after a fall this year, be sure you know who was liable and what rights you have as a result. Many slip and fall accidents are entirely preventable. You could face high medical bills and possibly life-altering injuries when a property owner was negligent and did not provide a safe surface. You may find that you're entitled to financial compensation.

For a free consulation with one of our attorneys after a fall, please call 609-589-0649.

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