NEW YORK, Nov. 8, 2002 -- The slip and fall accident is known to many as an age-old con designed to scam stores and malls out of easy settlement money. But, as Inside Edition reports on Monday, November 11, the majority of falls in stores are genuine, many caused when unsuspecting shoppers encounter slippery floor surfaces. In fact, slips, trips and falls cause about 16,000 deaths a year.

For Toni Rodgers, 63, of West Monroe, Louisiana life has never been the same since she tripped and fell outside a Texas convenience store two years ago, shattering her shoulder. Toni explains, I was coming across the carpet, tripped and fell, and hit my shoulder on the edge of the door that the gentleman was holding open for me.

Despite two surgeries, Toni says she has regained just 35 percent function in her left arm. She relies on her husband Luke to perform many tasks she once took for granted. Even to this day, I can't even hook my own bra. I can't do my own hair. I can't lift much at all with that arm. Something that sounds as simple as a slip or fall can change your whole life.

But if you think falls only happen to the elderly, think again. Even athletes in the best of health can fall victim. Former NBA All Star Robert Reid tells Inside Edition that in 14 years of playing professional ball he never slipped and fell while running up and down the court. But when Reid came off an elevator in a Houston hotel, he ran into a wet spot and fell. My right foot hit that wet spot and next thing you know I'm flying up in the air and I came down and I blacked out. Reid, who needed two surgeries to repair his knee, sued the hotel and was awarded $285,000.

At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, researchers are trying to find out exactly what happens when people fall. Dr. Mark Redfern explains, The ultimate goal is to try to prevent injuries from falls, and what we're trying to do in this research is understand how people control their bodies when they slip.

Dr. Redfern puts Inside Editions Matt Meagher through a test, in which the senior investigative reporter is made to slip and fall. A three dimensional image of his fall, shows that Meagher, according to Dr. Redfern, could have easily suffered a hip fracture or severe lower back injury if it was not for the safety harness that was placed on him.

As part of its report, Inside Editions undercover cameras document slip and fall hazards at various supermarkets in the New York area. The syndicated newsmagazine found grapes, wilted lettuce, coffee, ice and water on the floors. Most problems werent cleaned up until Inside Edition brought them to workers attention.

Russell Kendzior of the National Floor Safety Institute says some floors can be slippery even if nothing is spilled on them. He explains that oils in some polishes can make them even more dangerous. As that floor becomes highly reflective or shiny, it also brings with it an increased number of slips and falls. By changing the way you maintain your floor, you can prevent up to 85% of the current slips and falls taking place.

And now, consumers and businesses can purchase new high traction floor polishes, which are designed to reduce slips. While technology may provide some relief from these kinds of accidents, experts say that as America ages, the number of slips, trips and falls will continue to rise.