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What causes slips, trips and falls in California?

The words are thrown around a lot. Slip. Trip. Fall.

Don't they all mean the same thing?

Not really. Each is a distinct kind of accident. But they're similar in that they can cause anywhere from minor to life-altering injuries. All Californians need to know that these events can result in back or head injuries, broken bones, lacerations or cuts, strained muscles, sprained joints or more.

A slip happens when there isn't enough friction or traction between a person's shoe and the walking surface.

A trip follows when a person's foot comes in touch with something that is in the way or fails to stay in the same level with the other foot. When people trip, they usually fall forward, while those who slip typically fall backward.

A fall happens, simply, when your body gets too far out of balance.

What are some key causes of slips, trips and falls?

  • Surfaces that are wet or slippery. Recently washed or waxed floors, or those that are naturally slick – marble, ceramic tile or terrazzo – can cause you to slip. You also need to be careful in the bathroom or kitchen. A property owner should be sure to use anti-skid adhesive tape in areas where a lot of people walk, install absorbent mats in bad weather and make sure spills are cleaned up promptly.
  • Bad lighting. Dim lighting can make it tough for you to see things that might be on the ground – think garden hose – or detect things such as uneven pavement. Be sure to walk slowly and cautiously. Take small steps and watch the ground below you for things such as uneven pavement. If there are rails or things you can hold on to – if you're in a parking lot, touching the cars can help – to maintain balance, do it.
  • Changes in elevation. Even a small change in the height of the walking surface can cause you to trip. This can happen when you encounter cracks in the sidewalk, curbs and ramps.

If you feel yourself starting to fall, protect the parts of your body that can be more badly hurt, such as your head, neck or spine.

Life can change in an instant with just one slip, trip or fall. You could face time in the hospital or rehabilitation, away from your family and your job. If you have sustained an injury, an attorney experienced in working with slip, trip or fall victims can offer guidance.

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