Watch out! Top 5 slip-and-fall risks that could get your building sued

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How much total do you plan to tip the building staff this year?

More than half of all lawsuits filed against co-ops and condos in the last year involved that classic of the personal injury lawyer: "slip-and-falls." To make sure it doesn't happen to your building (and that you and your fellow residents don't end up indirectly footing the bill for damages), Habitat Magazine has rounded up the five most common spots for these kinds of accidents.

They are, in order of prevalence: Uneven sidewalks (since more people use the sidewalk around a building than live in a building), slippery snow and ice, wet floors, dangerous floor coverings, and slippery pool areas. 

For the exterior of the building, the board should keep a close eye on tree roots, which have a way of sprouting through the sidewalk to create uneven, unsafe pavement. And after a snowfall, you'll have to abide by the "four hour rule," clearing and salting the sidewalk within four hours of the time it stops snowing, or else run the risk of a suit from someone who slips on the ice. Your staff will also need to maintain the area (plan for check-ins on icy sidewalks every couple of hours). For a little extra buffer against litigious, clumsy pedestrians, consider a sign warning of icy conditions in the area.

Inside the building, wet floors are a going concern,  and the doorman, porter, or super should put out runners and mats when it's rainy out and residents are tromping in with wet feet. If you're lucky enough to have a pool in the building, have residents sign a waiver, and consider rules requiring underage residents to be accompanied by a parent, and for a lifeguard to be on duty. And even though rugs will help keep tile or marble floors from getting slick, Habitat notes that they should be "feathered," meaning that there's a rubber border to prevent tripping in places where they go from a high to low surface (i.e. on stairs).

If you suspect your building is slacking on this front, broach the issue at your next board meeting: not only do you not want your building tangled up in a lawsuit, you also don't want to be the poor schmuck who faceplants in front of the doorman the next time it snows.


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