4 Things to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

June 15, 2018 Slip Trip and Fall

Slips and falls are responsible for thousands of injuries every year, in businesses, homes, and on streets. People who slip

caution wet floor sign at a corridorSlips and falls are responsible for thousands of injuries every year, in businesses, homes, and on streets.

People who slip and fall are often disoriented. They may be injured. They may be embarrassed. They may simply want to get home.

But it’s very important to take the right steps after a slip and fall. Businesses and private property owners must take reasonable care to maintain their premises in a safe condition. If something occurs to make the premises unsafe, such as spilled liquid or rain, they must take steps to clear up the unsafe conditions, including placing warning signs around the area.

Businesses and private property owners can also be responsible for sidewalks that are directly in front of their property.

If they don’t do this, they can be found liable for any injuries in a slip and fall. But injured people need evidence of their injuries, and they need evidence of what the conditions were. Immediately leaving the scene could mean that you don’t have a record of what happened, and thus you don’t have evidence.

Here’s what you need to do after a slip and fall accident.

1. Get medical attention

If you are injured, the first thing you need to do is receive appropriate medical attention. Don’t wait! Falls that resulted in your hitting your head could cause a concussion, for example, which can have serious consequences. You may feel okay, but still have serious injuries.

Be sure to tell your doctor everything that happened. If you bring a legal claim, those records can be used.

2. Report the incident

Second, you need to report the incident to the person in charge. This could be a store manager, a landlord, or whoever would be responsible for the area.

They need to know that a condition exists that needs to be fixed. In addition, if you have a legal claim that goes to trial, a jury might find it odd that you never reported the incident.

3. Take pictures and keep a record

In today’s world, many people carry a smartphone with a camera. For slip and fall victims, that’s actually good news. You need a record of what happened, and pictures are a great way to make an immediate record.

If you are injured, take pictures of your injury from several angles. Don’t wait until bruises have faded or cuts healed.

Take pictures of the area. Show any unsafe places.

If you don’t have a phone or camera, take notes immediately on what happened. People tend to misremember once a day or so has passed, so take notes as soon as you can. Write what happened, why, and what occurred as a result.

4. Get contact information of witnesses

If people saw you slip and fall, try and get their contact information. They may be called as witnesses in a legal case.

While many business owners and private property owners want to do the right thing, some may try to minimize the situation or even make untrue statements. Witnesses will make sure that you have evidence.

If You Need an Experienced Slip and Fall Attorney in Southern California

Were you or a loved one injured in a slip and fall accident in LA? Sean Salamati is experienced and aggressive in premises liability cases. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-957-9898.

More tips on what to do after sustaining a slip, trip or fall injury:

  1. National Restaurant Association. Don’t Trip Up: Preventing Slips and Falls. https://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Operations/Back-of-House/Dont-trip-up-Preventing-slips-and-falls
  2. National Safety Council. Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Training. https://www.nsc.org/safety-training/workplace/slips-trips-and-falls
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Slipping on a Wet or Waxed Floor: Who Is Liable?

April 25, 2018 Slip Trip and Fall

If you’ve ever slipped on a wet or waxed floor, you know it can happen in an instant. One minute

slip and fallIf you’ve ever slipped on a wet or waxed floor, you know it can happen in an instant. One minute you’re walking along. The next minute, you could be flat on your back.

Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents on a wet or waxed floor can be more than sudden. They can be extremely dangerous. Slipping and falling can cause fractures, sprains, concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and lacerations. They can cause people to lose time from work and suffer the economic consequences.

In the worst case, they can be deadly.

Who bears the responsibility?

But who is responsible for a slip and fall accident on a wet or waxed floor?

According to California law, the management of commercial establishments must keep their premises safe at all times. If they do not, they are responsible for accidents that occur as a result of unsafe conditions. They can be held accountable for injuries under premises liability statutes if their establishments — stores, hotels, malls, anywhere a consumer might encounter a wet or waxed floor — have unreasonable dangers.

But, if we consider wet or waxed floors, we will realize that there are different levels of responsibility.

If an employee has been mopping or waxing a floor, or is in the midst of so doing, the floors may be dangerous to walk on. For that reason, the employee should place signs clearly demarcating the recently mopped or waxed floor as recently worked on. They should urge passers-by to exercise caution while walking. Better yet, if the floor is truly unsafe, they should rope it off until it is dry again.

If this is done, and a guest ignores the signs and walks anyway, a court might find the injured party responsible or partly responsible for any accident that follows.

But if an employee is mopping or waxing and takes no safety precautions, a court might find for the plaintiff, since the defendant breached their duty of care.

Premises liability and duty of care

But say that a floor gets wet not as a consequence of anything a store employee does. If may be raining, and people’s outerwear or umbrellas track water on the floor. In a busy mall, someone may spill coffee or a bottle of water. In a grocery store, someone may drop a product that they were planning to buy. It if breaks, it could result in a wet floor.

In circumstances like this, business owners or the people responsible for the premises still are obligated to keep the premises safe to walk on. But they must also 1) know that the premises have become unsafe and 2) have had a reasonable amount of time to make the premises safe again.

So in a hotel, store, or mall, management should know within a reasonable amount of time that rain water or spilled liquid is on the floor. They should dispatch someone promptly to cordon the area off until the liquid has been mopped up.

If they do not fix the situation in a reasonable amount of time, a court might find them liable for any ensuing accident.

Slip and fall attorneys in Southern California

The Salamati Law Firm has an exceptional track record of securing justice for their clients, helping them achieve the best possible results following a serious personal injury.

If you or a loved one is in need of an experienced slip and fall attorney Los Angeles residents trust, call  800-957-9898 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Additional Resources on Slip and Fall Liability:

  1. Insurance Information Institute. Insuring Your Business: Small Business Owners’ Guide to Insurance. Controlling Liability Risks http://www.iii.org/publications/insuring-your-business-small-business-owners-guide-to-insurance/risk-management/controlling-liability-risks
  2. LA Times, City settles slip-and-fall case for $30K http://www.latimes.com/tn-gnp-city-settles-slipandfall-case-for-30k-20140125-story.html
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Timeline of a Slip and Fall Lawsuit

May 31, 2017 Slip Trip and Fall

If you are involved in a slip and fall accident, it’s helpful to know the timeline for bringing a lawsuit

If you are involved in a slip and fall accident, it’s helpful to know the timeline for bringing a lawsuit against liable parties. Depending on the complexity of your case, a slip and fall case could last several months or several years.

There are a number of steps in a slip and fall case.

1. The Complaint

caution wet floor sign at a corridorThe “complaint” is the official legal term for the document that states your case. It explains what happened and why. It names the parties. It declares who the plaintiff believes is responsible, and what the plaintiff wants in redress from the defendant. Your slip and fall lawyer will draw up the complaint, using information you supply.

After the complaint is completed, it must be filed in court. It is also served to the defendant. “Served” means delivered.

2. The Answer

A summons to the defendant requiring the defendant to officially respond to the complaint is served when the complaint is filed.

The response must be made within a specific time period (often 20 working days).

The response is legally termed the “Answer”. The Answer must either agree or disagree with each point of the Complaint. It may also specify that the defendant does not have sufficient information on a point.

An Answer can contain the grounds for a defense. It may, for example, state that the defendant did not know about the condition that caused the slip and fall. To prove negligence, slip and fall lawsuits must prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the condition.

3. Discovery

Discovery is a stage of every legal case. It is where information is obtained about the case. Attorneys can discover information by asking written questions that must be answered under oath. These are termed “interrogatories.” They can also discover via requesting material things and documents. These are termed “requests for production.”

Discovery phases are one of the most elastic in a court case. The time discovery takes depends very much on what is asked for, how much, when it is received, and the schedule of the court. It can take three months to several years.

4. Pre-Trial Motions

Not all cases involve pre-trial motions, but they can. The most common are Motion to Dismiss, which asks the case to be dismissed on the grounds of a legal technicality, and Motion to Compel, which asks the court to require something that a party to the suit has not moved to do. Motions can add time to a case.

One type of motion, a Summary Judgement, alleges that there are no facts to support the case. If granted, a case cannot go forward. This can shorten the case.

5. Settlement Conferences and Mediation

As the Discovery phase nears its end, either the parties or a judge may request a mediation (the parties) or a settlement conference (a judge). This typically happens if the facts are not really in dispute and the parties simply need to agree on damages.

6. Trial

If there is no settlement conference or mediation, the case is set on a schedule once Discovery is over. A docket number will be given.

Slip and fall trials usually take from two to three days.

7. Judgement Collection

Collection is not immediate. A defendant has from 30 to 60 days to settle a judgement.

Experienced Slip and Fall Attorneys in Southern California

Slip and fall accidents can be complicated to prove. The Salamati Law Firm has an exceptional record of obtaining justice for their clients in slip and fall cases in the Los Angeles area.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, call us today. We will provide a complimentary consultation. If we take your case, you owe us nothing up front. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional “slip and fall lawsuit timeline” resources:

  1. National Safety Council. Slips, Trips and Falls. http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Slips-Trips-and-Falls.pdf
  2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Home and Recreational Safety. Older Adult Falls. Important Facts About Falls. https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
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3 Slip and Fall Prevention Tips For Property Owners

May 2, 2017 Slip Trip and Fall

Whether you own a business or a residence, as a Los Angeles property owner, you are liable for maintaining a

cracked sidewalk Whether you own a business or a residence, as a Los Angeles property owner, you are liable for maintaining a safe environment for people who are lawfully visiting your property. You are responsible for regularly assessing the structures, sidewalks, parking lots, and land you own for possible hazards. If a hazard is identified, you must make a reasonable effort to restore the safety of your property. Otherwise, someone who slips and falls could slap you with a premises liability lawsuit that costs tens of thousands, if not millions, in legal fees, settlements, or damage awards.

Find out what you can do to decrease the likelihood of pedestrians injuring themselves on your property.

Set aside funds for sidewalk and parking lot repairs.

Sidewalks are a common site for slip and fall accidents — even in places like Los Angeles, where ice and snow removal isn’t a factor. Cracked, uneven sidewalks are a preventable tripping hazard. City officials used to set aside money for the maintenance of our sidewalks, but started taking their chances after the 2008 recession, when funds became tight. In the end, they wound up paying far more on damage control than they would have paid in preventative measures. It took a lawsuit filed by attorneys on behalf of the disabled and over $6 million in trip-and-fall payouts in less than four years to finally prompt Los Angeles leaders to take action. City Council has pledged $1.3 billion to cover repairs of 40% of all publicly-owned LA sidewalks.

If you own a business, train your employees.

A workplace environment is always changing. However, failure to adequately train employees on how to recognize and repair fall hazards is a major cause of property owner liability in slip and fall accident cases. You should instruct all employees to wear shoes that are compatible with flooring surfaces in their work areas. Smart employers implement regular safety inspection checklists and outline the procedures for rectifying spills or damage. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) run by the U.S. Department of Labor is a good starting point for developing a structured program that limits liability.

If you are a homeowner, ask for proof of insurance for all day laborers.

While plausible, it’s a rare scenario for a friend or relative to visit, sustain a fall that leads to serious injury, and then file a premises liability lawsuit. Most of the time, these incidents are resolved without the courts getting involved. One of the more common scenarios is the homeowner who hires a day laborer, but fails to ask for proof of insurance before work commences on the property. Roofers, carpenters, landscapers, dry wall contractors, painters, house cleaners, plumbers, electricians, movers, tree trimmers, and other workers can sue the homeowner if they suffer a fall and do not have adequate insurance through their employers. Ask to see a Certificate of Liability Insurance, and then call the agent listed on the card to verify that the insurance has not expired. Check to see that the business is a member of the Better Business Bureau, which means they have met licensing, bonding, and insurance standards.

Need a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer?

If you have have questions about your legal rights in the wake of a fall on someone else’s property, contact The Salamati Firm today for a free case review. The experienced Los Angeles slip and fall attorneys at our firm have helped plaintiffs recover just compensation when property owner negligence has been a factor. Contact us for a complimentary case evaluation today.

Additional “slip and fall accident prevention” resources:

  1. LA Times – L.A. Agrees To Spend $1.3 Billion To Fix Sidewalks In ADA Case, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lawsuit-broken-sidewalks-20150331-story.html#page=1
  2. OSHA – Slips, Trips, Falls Training Material, https://www.osha.gov/dte/grant_materials/fy06/46e0-ht10-06.html
  3. Net Quote – How to ensure your contractor is bonded and insured, http://www.netquote.com/home-insurance/bonded-and-insured-contractors
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Top 6 Causes of Sidewalk Trip and Fall Injuries

April 21, 2017 Slip Trip and Fall

There are many possible causes for a sidewalk trip and fall, but the liability often lands squarely on the property

A sidewalk made uneven by tree rootsThere are many possible causes for a sidewalk trip and fall, but the liability often lands squarely on the property owners’ shoulders.

The City of Los Angeles has battled sidewalk liability issues over the last decade. They’ve faced lawsuits waged by the people behind the Americans With Disabilities Act. They were sued by activists opposing the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge design. City officials agreed to invest $1.3 billion to fix the 40% of its sidewalks that were in desperate need of repair. Over a four-year period, they paid out more than $6 million in trip and fall lawsuit payouts, according to the city attorney’s office.

Six causes of sidewalk trip and fall accidents

  1. Weather Conditions – Though property owners are legally obligated to clear any public paths they own, it can be difficult to prove these cases without photographic evidence taken at the time of injury. There are many defenses a person can raise as to making a “reasonable effort” to clear hazards caused by weather conditions. Proper drainage should be installed to prevent water buildup on the sidewalks.
  2. Uneven Surfaces – As little as 1/4-1/2” can catch a pedestrian’s shoe. Uneven sidewalks typically occur when base materials shift, causing part of the cement to shift – or when tree branches push up underneath.
  3. Surface Damage – Bumps, potholes, deep cracks, and loose gravel pieces are a leading cause of tripping. Defendants often try to minimize cosmetic damage to the sidewalk, calling it “too insignificant” to cause a person to trip. That’s when it’s very handy to have an aggressive legal team backing your claim!
  4. Pedestrian Inattention –Texting or using a cell phone while walking, being preoccupied with a leashed dog or child, drinking and walking, fiddling with an MP3 player, horsing around with a friend, or generally not watching where you’re walking can place some of the liability onto you. Sometimes pedestrians are accused of wearing “improper footwear” for the conditions or the activity.
  5. Dangerous Walking Conditions – In rare instances, property owners have placed some type of obstacle on the sidewalk that causes a person to trip and fall – be it a construction cone, a bicycle, children’s toys, signage, work tools, garbage, or some other type of debris.
  6. Improper Sidewalk Design – Another rare argument made in court is that the sidewalk was poorly designed. Sidewalks can be too narrow, in areas overgrown by trees and vegetation, poorly lit, made with insufficient materials, poorly leveled, or not cured all the way. Sometimes sidewalks were built to code many years ago, but the codes have changed and they no longer comply.

Who is liable in a sidewalk trip and fall incident?

Sometimes a true accident occurs, and no one is at fault. However, there are several scenarios where negligence directly causes or contributes to a trip and fall accident. Liable parties may include:

  • Property Owners – Homeowners are responsible for keeping a level sidewalk and repairing any known damage to the surface. Most of the time, it is presumed the homeowner should know about the damage by inspecting his or her property on a regular basis. A reasonable person would note the damage, call contractors, or actually conduct the repair in an effective manner.
  • Local or Federal Governments – If you are walking on a public sidewalk owned by the government, the city itself may be responsible for your injuries. If you were walking past a federal building, it’s possible the federal government owns the sidewalk. It is important that you make your claim against the proper government entity, or a judge could bar claim from court. There are also tight deadlines in place – usually 30 days – to notify a government entity about what happened. And, often, there is a cap on how much money you may seek in a lawsuit against a government entity — sometimes well under $100,000.
  • You – By California’s “comparative negligence” law, defendants can accuse the plaintiff of being at least partially at fault for what happened to reduce their obligation. The total amount received can be reduced if there is proof that the pedestrian was distracted or not watching where he or she was going. It is important that you watch your words when speaking with authorities, so they don’t come back to haunt you in court.

How Southern California trip and fall attorneys can help

In Southern California, the Salamati Firm aggressively fights for plaintiffs who have been injured in sidewalk trip and fall accidents. Our experienced attorneys make sure you get the right claim filed, in the right timeframe. We anticipate any attempts by the other side to dodge liability and blame you for what happened. Our panel of expert engineers, city inspectors, law professors, doctors, insurance adjusters, and others will help you build a winning case. Contact a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer for a free case review today.

Additional sidewalk slip, trip and fall injury resources:

  1. University of Wisconsin, Accident Prevention: Slips, Trips and Falls, http://www.uwosh.edu/ehs/campus-health-and-safety/general-safety/occupational-safety/accident-prevention-slips-trips-and-falls
  2. Heimer Engineering, Walkway, Path, And Sidewalk Slip, Trip, And Fall Accidents, https://www.heimer.com/Licensed-Professional-Engineer/Walkway-Path-Sidewalk-Slip-Trip-and-Fall-Injury.html
  3. Curbed Los Angeles, Where the Sidewalk Ends…In a Tree Root-Related Lawsuit, http://la.curbed.com/2011/10/20/10432190/where-the-sidewalk-endsin-a-tree-rootrelated-lawsuit
  4. LA Times, L.A. agrees to spend $1.3 billion to fix sidewalks in ADA case, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-lawsuit-broken-sidewalks-20150331-story.html
  5. LA Times, Activists sue Los Angeles over Hyperion Bridge design’s single sidewalk, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-hyperion-bridge-lawsuit-20150710-story.html
  6. Next City, Suing for Sidewalks, https://nextcity.org/features/view/ada-compliance-accessible-design-cities-lawsuits-doj
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Whose Fault Is It Anyway? Proving Fault in a Slip and Fall

April 13, 2017 Slip Trip and Fall

There are not many personal injury situations as likely to turn into a factual dispute as a slip and fall.

caution wet floor slip and fallThere are not many personal injury situations as likely to turn into a factual dispute as a slip and fall. The impediment or defect that made the spot dangerous may not remain apparent long enough to document it and even when it is documented, the condition may or may not lead to liability. But a personal injury plaintiff must be able to prove that there was a dangerous condition on the premises and that the owner or occupier was legally responsible.

Slips and falls injure thousands of people in California and across the country each year. They occur for any number of reasons, ranging from pure carelessness on the part of the person taking the tumble to recklessness by a property owner in concealing a defective condition. L.A. attracts a lot of visitors and property owners have a duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury.

Owner liability for slips and falls

A slip or fall may just be the result of bad luck. On the other hand, if you are injured and suspect that reasonable precautions may have prevented the accident, then the situation may be worth a closer look. A property owner is under a duty to keep the premises maintained and to warn visitors of defects that it knows about. Therefore, in CA the property owner may be liable if:

  • The owner or an employee must have caused the hazard;
  • The owner or an employee must have known about the hazard but did nothing to fix it; or
  • The owner or an employee reasonably should have known about the hazard, yet did nothing to fix it.

Gathering evidence of liability for a slip and fall

Evidence can be fleeting in a slip and fall case. When it involves, for example, a spill of liquid or some other material is involved, it will need to be cleaned up before other people are harmed. Boxes that a negligent worker placed in the aisle will likely be moved. A poorly lit area may receive a new lightbulb. It is a good idea to take photos of the scene and gather the names and contact information of any witnesses who can corroborate what was present at the site at the time of injury.

A common complication is that one person or business owns the property but someone else controls it or is responsible for cleaning and maintaining it. It is not always clear-cut which party bears responsibility for inspecting the premises and making it safe. A personal injury lawyer can help sort this out by serving what is known as “discovery requests” to obtain the information necessary to answer those questions. All of this is necessary for a plaintiff to meet his or her burden of proof in court.

Work with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer

If you have been injured on someone else’s property in Southern California and believe it was someone else’s fault, speak with Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer Sean Salamati. Slip and fall cases can be tricky to prove but The Salamati Law Firm has the resources and expertise to make the case. Call for a no-obligation consultation.

Additional “slip and fall fault” resources:

  1. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), 1003. Unsafe Conditions, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1003.html
  2. Justia ,California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI), Series 1000 – Premises Liability, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/
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Top Five Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

April 12, 2017 Slip Trip and Fall

Slip and fall accidents occur when people slip and fall due to the negligent behavior of another. The entity at

caution wet floor sign at a corridorSlip and fall accidents occur when people slip and fall due to the negligent behavior of another. The entity at fault can be a person such as a landlord, a business that has not maintained their store or property adequately, or a government that has not repaired sidewalks. The reason? Landlords, businesses, and other property owners or responsible parties have a duty to keep their surroundings safe and free from dangerous conditions.

To be deemed liable, the responsible party must have known about the conditions and had sufficient time to repair and rectify them. The court must be convinced that the facts show a reasonable person would have thought a situation was potentially harmful and fixed it.

Curious about the top causes of slip and fall accidents in the U.S.? Here are the top five.

Floor surfaces that are poorly maintained

The #1 reason people slip and fall are badly maintained floor surfaces. Whether it’s loose tiles in a courtyard, broken and uneven concrete sidewalks, or area rugs in a waiting room that aren’t anchored sufficiently, floors can be the cause of injuries.

Wet floors

Wet floors can be beautifully maintained in terms of their condition. But if a shopping mall, for instance, doesn’t clean floors after people track in water from a rainstorm, or a grocery store doesn’t clean up spilled shampoo, people can plummet to the ground. Wet floors should not only be cleaned up, but property owners should put up warning signs while it is being taken care of.

Weather conditions

In southern California, we’re fortunate not to have ice and snow. But we can certainly have rainstorms, and sometimes those are even more dangerous because Californians are not always used to navigating in the wet. Slips and falls can happen on walkways, sidewalks and almost everywhere due to weather conditions.

Low or inadequate lighting

Lighting needs to be sufficient so people can see where they are walking. Low or inadequate lighting in stairwells, corridors, and city streets can make people slip and fall if they can’t see adequately at all, or can’t see obstacles such as potholes and broken sidewalks.

Lack of training

Property owners, landlords, and store managers are responsible for training their staff to clean and maintain the property. That means proactively noticing when conditions are dangerous and taking steps to make them safe again. Potentially hazardous areas need to be barricaded or roped off, with warnings for pedestrians and users of the area. Equipment needs to be operated so it doesn’t become a hazard. Steps to rectify potentially dangerous situations need to be taken quickly.

Speak with a slip and fall lawyer

Slips and falls cause serious harm every year due to the negligence of organizations big and small. Slips and falls can be caused by the actions of landlords, small business owners, or businesses ranging from parks to malls.

If you feel you or a loved one was the victim of a slip and fall due to the negligence of another, please call the Salamati Law Firm today. We are experienced LA slip and fall lawyers. Your case will be reviewed by seasoned professionals and there is no charge to you for an initial consultation.

Additional “causes of slip and fall accidents” resources:

  1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Workplace Solutions. Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls in Wholesale and Retail Trade Establishments. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2013-100/pdfs/2013-100.pdf
  2. Nova Southeastern University. Slip, Trip, and Fall Prevention Guide. http://www.nova.edu/risk/policies/forms/slips-trips-fall-prevention.pdf
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