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Winter weather could increase your risk of a slip-and-fall

Despite how minor and humorous they may appear in television shows or movies, slip-and-fall incidents can result in serious injuries. Sometimes, these common accidents can even prove fatal. In fact, more than a million people head to emergency rooms each year because of slip-and-fall incidents. There are certain steps you can take to reduce your risk of joining this group, such as wearing shoes or boots with good traction and moving slowly on slick surfaces. Still, if a property isn't carefully maintained, even your best efforts may not prevent a slip-and-fall.

It only takes a second for your feet to lose grip, sending you crashing to the ground. You could easily suffer broken bones, soft tissue injuries, head and brain injuries or even spinal cord injuries as a result of slipping on a snowy or icy surface. When that happens, you may have a claim of premises liability against the facility or business where the accident occurred. This is particularly true if basic maintenance could have prevented your injury.

Businesses should keep lots and sidewalks clear

Generally speaking, public spaces should be kept safe for use. In the winter, that means removing accumulated snow, melting ice on sidewalks and often putting out rugs or carpets to avoid puddling on tile, wood or linoleum floors. While no one can control precipitation, any business or facility that allows public access needs to handle it responsibly when it happens. Failing to remove snow or ice from sidewalks or parking lots could result in premises liability if anyone ends up injured.

Snow and ice, in particular, can increase the risk for people crossing a parking lot or traveling on the sidewalk to experience a slip-and-fall accident. Proper and frequent snow-removal efforts, combined with efforts to maintain dry and safe surfaces inside entrance ways, are all critical steps to help protect people from slipping in the cold weather.

Always report your accident and seek medical evaluation

Some conditions, like traumatic brain injuries, take a while to develop after an accident. You may not recognize the symptoms of an injury until they become more serious. You may also feel embarrassed about slipping. In order to protect your health and your right to claim damages after an accident related to premises liability, you should always report a slip-and-fall after it happens.

Ensuring that the manager on duty or the business owner knows about the incident can help if you need to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit in the future. If you hit your head or lost consciousness, you should visit a doctor the same day as your slip-and-fall. Getting a proper evaluation could reduce the risk of worsening symptoms over time in the case of head injuries. It can also help correlate later symptoms with the initial injury on the day of the slip-and-fall incident.

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