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How to best avoid a slip-and-fall accident on snow and ice

Winter is just around the corner, and the first snowfall in northeastern New Jersey might be just a month or so away. Property owners who neglect to include the necessary maintenance measures in their safety protocols may find themselves facing premises liability lawsuits in the not too distant future. As a consumer, you would likely expect store owners to clear away snow from the sidewalks leading to the entrances of their premises to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.

Allowing snow to accumulate can cause it to compact and form ice on which an unsuspecting consumer can slip and fall. Another area where visitors to a store can be vulnerable is the parking lot. Neglecting to repair damaged surfaces can allow potholes to ice over, causing potential slip-and-fall hazards.

Safety precautions you can take

  • Footwear selection -- Avoid shoes with plastic or leather soles. Rubber or synthetic, rubber-like Neoprene are safer options when walking on wet and slippery areas.
  • Be conscious -- Remain conscious of the danger and look ahead for hazards. Avoid the temptation to rush across a street or run to catch a bus. An unnoticed patch of ice can cause a fall in the blink of an eye.
  • Be cautious -- Be cautious while walking. Test each step before you take it and keep your arms free. Your arms are valuable to maintain your balance, and when you carry loads or when your hands are in your pockets, you are at a higher risk of falling.
  • Mimic a penguin -- Avoid a marching posture -- walk with your feet slightly spread out and take shuffle-like short steps, similar to those of a penguin.
  • Hold onto your vehicle -- When exiting or entering your vehicle, you can support yourself by holding onto it.

Typical slip-and-fall injuries

Whenever you fall by accident, you will instinctively try to protect yourself by holding out your hands. For this reason, slip-and-fall injuries often occur in arms, hands, wrists and elbows. Falling sideways or backward can cause back injuries, and the elderly are vulnerable to fractures in their hips when they fall.

What to do after a fall

If you fall while shopping, the store manager should call for an ambulance -- depending on the severity of your injuries. If he or she refuses, you can call 911 yourself. Getting the required medical care is vital, and those medical reports may prove valuable if you decide to pursue financial relief. The more details you record about the slip-and-fall accident and the circumstances that led to it, the better your chances will be to prove negligence when you file a premises liability lawsuit in a New Jersey civil court.

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