Tis the Season for Slip and Falls

Ho, ho, ho and a merry slipmas to you! Slips and falls can be a hazard any time of the year. Extra diligence is required during the month of December in Albuquerque, with declining temperatures that can dip near the freezing mark during the overnights and early mornings. Wet surfaces that already were slippery become even more dangerous in colder temperatures. Streets, sidewalks, and exterior stairways can become covered in ice or snow, making even the shortest trip a potential disaster for pedestrians.

Why do so many people slip and fall in the winter?

Cold, ice, and snow are the trifecta of wintry slip-and-falls. Unintentional falling is the leading cause of nonfatal injury in the U.S. among all age groups except those aged 10-24, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The cold weather does not just make surfaces more slippery than usual. It encourages people to move more quickly to get in out of the cold weather. Walking briskly (or even breaking into a light jog) is not the best approach to winter weather in Albuquerque. Moving faster might get you nothing but flat on your back on a sidewalk or the bottom of the stairs during the winter months.

Lastly, people do not always dress appropriately for the slicker surfaces. Wearing dress shoes for the office can be a big mistake on snowy or colder days when wet surfaces might freeze.

Bone fractures are a common slip-and-fall injury in the wintertime.

What types of injuries can happen from winter slips and falls?

Slips and falls are dangerous no matter the time of year they occur. Injuries can range between mild and severe, with some requiring an immediate trip to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Here are some of the most common types of injuries that can happen from wintertime slips and falls.

  1. Concussions
    Hitting your head is always a risk anytime you fall. Concussions – a type of brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head – are among the most serious injuries you can get from a slip and fall accident. Some of the warning signs you have suffered a head injury that caused a concussion include balance issues, confusion, dizziness, double or blurry vision, forgetfulness, headache or head pressure, and sensitivity to light and sound.
  2. Fractures
    A partial or complete break in the bone is called a fracture. Wrists and ankles are common victims of wintertime slips and falls. Some of the common signs of a bone fracture include bruising, pain around the affected area, and swelling. Other tell-tale warnings being unable to move the injured area or put weight on it.
  3. Sprains and strains
    When a part of a ligament is torn or stretched, it causes a sprain. Twisting your ankle while walking too quickly on an icy surface can cause a sprain. Strains happen when muscles near the band of tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone becomes injured. Some signs of a strain or sprain include bruising, limited movement in the affected area, pain, and swelling.

Fatal slip and falls can happen under the right circumstances. Slipping on an icy sidewalk and falling into moving traffic or hitting your head can increase your chances of dying from a wintertime slip or fall.

Tips to prevent wintertime slips and falls for property owners

Property owners are liable for any injuries that occur on their premises. This includes slips and falls on icy or snowy sidewalks, stairs, and other surfaces. One of the most important steps property owners can take is to have a snow and ice removal plan in place for sidewalks, stairways, parking areas, and around any other public exterior spaces.

Other steps property owners can take:

  • Check gutters and downspouts to ensure they do not empty onto walkways or parking areas. Puddles can easily freeze in the right temperatures, creating a slipping hazard.
  • Maintain adequate lighting in exterior areas to help visitors more easily identify problem spots. Commercial LED lighting is the best bet for providing ample illumination without running up your electric bill.
  • Quickly clean up exterior spills. Just like dripping water from downspouts and gutters can create an icy mess, so can other liquid spills that are left unattended.

Slip avoidance tips for individuals

The onus to stay slip-and-fall free during the winter months is not only on property owners. You have a duty to ensure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself while out and about. Here are some things you can do to stay steady on your feet out there.

  • Avoid obvious slippery surfaces, including ice and snow-covered sidewalks and stairways.
  • Beware of changes in walking surfaces and proceed with caution during inclement weather.
  • Clean your shoes upon entering a building because caked snow can create slippery, wet floors for you and others.
  • Use handrails on stairways and walkways when provided.
  • Wear appropriate, slip-resistant footwear (boots with ridged or textured soles work best).
  • Walk slowly and as flat-footed as possible.

Seeking compensation for slip and fall injuries

New Mexico leads the nation in deaths and unintentional injuries suffered during slip and fall accidents. The Law Offices of Cameron & Russell help victims pursue fair compensation for slip-and-fall injuries that happen during the winter months or any time of the year. Schedule a free consultation with our skilled team of personal injury lawyers by calling 505-218-7844 or contacting us online.

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