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Top cause of injury-related deaths for those over 65 may surprise

Knoxville residents are often bombarded with images of various dangers on the nightly news and other sources. While these stories are presented in a way that makes individuals appear at risk of danger, most times, the real dangers confronting individuals appear in the most ordinary of circumstances.

For example, individuals are often injured through slip-and-fall accidents that can happen on any sidewalk or steps in the city. This is especially true for older adults, who are at greater risk of suffering falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.5 million falls required emergency treatment in 2013. Of these, 734,000 individuals had to be admitted to the hospital, while 25,500 older adults died from falls. A number of others suffer hip fractures or other nonfatal injuries. Indeed, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for adults over 65-years of age, and they are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury.

On the heels of the recent Fall Prevention Awareness Week, Knoxville residents should understand not only the dangers of slip-and-fall accidents, but what rights they have when these falls occur on other people's property. While not all falls result in legal liability for others, there are many cases where a person's injury can result in a premises liability claim against the property owner.

For instance, if a property owner knew the person's stairs were not in a safe condition, and failed to take steps to fix the problem or warn others, the property owner might be liable when someone is injured on the stairs. Likewise, if a store fails to repair a dangerous sidewalk or fix a known obstruction, the store might be legally responsible to those who are injured. These cases are very fact dependent, as it will often turn on what condition the property was in at the time and what knowledge the property owner did or did not have of that condition.

Source: National Safety Council, "Slip, trip and fall protection for older adults," accessed on Oct. 10, 2015

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