Slip and Fall Injuries: What You Need to Know

Categories: Slip and Fall

Slip and Fall Injuries: What You Need to Know

Slip and fall injuries are more common than you might expect. According to the National Safety Council, over 8 million nonfatal emergency room visits in 2018 were the result of falls—nearly one-third of all nonfatal emergency room visits!

Work-related accidents and older adults—those over the age of 65—make up a large chunk of that statistic. Approximately 4.4 million injuries happen in the workplace every year. The CDC also reports that each year, 3 million older adults visit the emergency room due to fall injuries. Older adults are especially vulnerable, with one in five falls resulting in a severe injury such as a broken hip or a head trauma.

Depending on the severity of the fall injury, recovery time can be anywhere from a week to months or even years. In the most severe cases, a fall injury can be permanent or even fatal.  

While a slip and fall can potentially injure any part of the body, certain areas tend to be affected more often than others, resulting in a trend in injury types. Not only is it important to know which symptoms to look for after a fall, but it’s also important to know the most common causes of slips and falls in order to help avoid them in the first place. 

However, should you suffer a fall injury, there are also specific steps you can take to ensure the best possible outcome, both physically and fiscally. Here’s everything you need to know about slip and fall injuries. 

The Most Common Types of Slip and Fall Injuries

    • Head injury. Head injuries can include everything from cuts and scrapes to much more severe injuries, such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries. In fact, according to the CDC, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, especially for older adults.

      Head injuries can be particularly dangerous because symptoms are not always immediately apparent and can worsen over time. Even if you feel okay, seeking medical care after a head injury is essential to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment as quickly as possible.
  • Broken bones or hip fractures. Roughly 95 percent of hip fractures are due to falls, and, to make matters worse, those who suffer hip fractures are more likely to fall again. The primary reason for this is that after a serious injury, many people limit their activities. As a result, they lose strength and muscle tone, becoming increasingly weak and more susceptible to falls.
  • Back and spinal injuries. Injuries to the back and spine have the potential to be incredibly debilitating. Milder sprains and injuries might only result in soreness for several days. More serious injuries may involve extensive physical therapy over an extended period.

    The most severe injuries to the back and spine can cause paralysis from the waist down or even from the neck down. The consequences of these injuries are devastating and can seriously impact your ability to work or even perform daily activities.
  • Sprains and abrasions. While not as severe as most of the other injuries, sprains and abrasions are still painful and can take a week or sometimes longer to heal. A sprain happens when a ligament—tough bands of tissue that connect bones in joints—is either stretched or torn.

    A mild sprain can be treated at home with the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), but a severe sprain might require surgery. An abrasion is simply a scrape to the skin. Like sprains, abrasions can vary widely in severity. While they can be quite painful, abrasions are usually not serious.
  • Neck and shoulder injuries. The term “whiplash” is usually associated with car accidents. However, the rapid back-and-forth neck movement that causes whiplash can also happen during a slip and fall accident.

    Whiplash occurs when the muscles or tendons in the neck are strained. An impact that causes whiplash may also cause a concussion, so it’s a good idea to seek medical attention.

    Shoulder injuries often occur while extending your arms to stop yourself during a fall. They can be problematic because they also affect the ability to use your arm and hand. Common types of shoulder injuries after a fall include bruising, separation of the shoulder, or, at worst, broken bones.
  • Knee injuries. Your knees can sustain a variety of injuries. If you fall directly onto your knee, you can dislocate or ever break your kneecap. If you twist your knee at an odd angle while falling, you can sprain ligaments in your knees or even tear cartilage. 

Sprains and abrasions are the most common slip and fall injuries and usually have the least severe symptoms. On the other hand, head and spinal injuries are often the most serious in terms of required recovery time. They also have the lowest chance of recovery, largely because conditions such as traumatic brain injuries and paralysis due to spine injuries are often permanent.

Head and spinal injuries are associated with higher fatality rates, as well. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls were the third leading cause of preventable injury-related deaths in 2018.

Common Causes of Slips and Falls

Approximately 12.6 million preventable injuries occurred in 2018 on public premises. Those injuries include slips and falls caused by: 

  • Spills on the floor. Restaurants, grocery stores, and anywhere serving or selling food and drink all frequently experience spills. However, home improvement stores, garden supply stores, and pet stores selling bulk goods also have a high potential for spills.
  • Wet floors without warning signs. Public walkways, restrooms, and anywhere with slick floors or leaking plumbing should have warning signs alerting the public to a potential slip and fall hazard.
     
  • Uneven surfaces. Sidewalks with overgrown tree roots or construction or renovation in progress can cause uneven surfaces and potentially cause a fall.

While the slip and fall hazards listed above can also occur at the workplace, additional causes for slips and falls while on the job include:

  • Unsafe work zones. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other industry-specific regulatory agencies have established safety rules employers must follow to ensure work zones are safe.
  • Negligence from taking precautionary measures. Negligence is a common factor in workplace slips and falls.
  • Other distractions. While distractions such as phones and other portable devices can be a disruption at work, even slips and falls during their use can often be attributed to unsafe work conditions. In that case, you may have the right to compensation.

Steps to Be Taken after Injury to Acquire Compensation

  • Seek medical attention. After a slip and fall, it’s important to immediately seek medical attention, even if you think you feel fine. Sometimes the severity of an injury isn’t apparent until hours or even days later.

    Not only will seeking medical attention right away ensure you get proper treatment as soon as possible, but it will also help establish medical records that are essential for receiving compensation.
  • Get proper documentation of your injuries after examination. As soon as a medical professional has examined you, make sure your injuries are thoroughly and accurately documented. This documentation should include all medical records and copies of any imaging (x-rays, MRIs, etc.) performed, along with records of any treatment and recommendations made by your physician.
  • Keep a record of evidencetake pictures of your injuries first. Photos can be a compelling piece of evidence in a compensation case. Make sure you take pictures of your injury or injuries as soon as possible after it occurs.

    If you can, take photos of the area where the accident occurred and document the cause of your slip and fall. Try to get contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident and make sure to get copies of any written evidence that may support your case.
  • Contact a lawyer in case the fall was caused due to someone else’s negligence. A qualified personal injury attorney can help ensure you are fairly compensated. Insurance companies will often try to get you to settle for the least amount, but it’s your right to Demand More® and get the compensation you deserve. 

No one wants a slip and fall injury, but when accidents happen, it’s good to know you don’t have to go through it alone. Knowing what to do if you’re injured in fall and having a legal professional on your side makes all the difference.  

If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County slip or fall accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 983-4395 now.

Disclaimer: You should not take any information in this blog as legal advice in any situation. If you need expertise for a specific issue of yours, contact a qualified Personal Injury attorney.