Slip and Falls Leave Devastatingly Costly Injuries

slip and falls leave costly injury

Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries that require a visit to the hospital. Though some falls may only result in minor injuries, others can be quite severe and even lead to death. It depends on risk factors like the height from which someone fell, the surface they fell on, their age, and their overall health and physical strength.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, with those over the age of 60 being most at risk. Their healthcare research further states that “globally, falls are responsible for over 38 million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) lost each year, and result in more years lived with disability than transport injury, drowning, burns, and poisoning combined.”

How Slip and Falls Affect People’s Lives

slip and fall

Slip and falls can also leave victims and their loved ones with heavy financial burdens, chronic pain, and a reduced quality of life. Treatment for fall injuries can be quite expensive, and the more severe the injury, the more it will cost to treat.

Those left disabled from slip and falls can struggle for the rest of their lives, requiring life-long treatments and therapy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that older adults are more likely to experience falls, thanks to risk factors related to age, balance, and physical health. Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury death for people ages 65 and older.

Unfortunately, pursuing compensation after a slip and fall injury can be challenging. Though premises liability exists to hold individuals responsible for any injuries that occur on their property, it can be difficult to prove that they were aware of the hazard that caused the injury and failed to address it.

For this reason, injured victims may need to work with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney who can fight for their rights and ensure they receive fair and adequate compensation for their medical expenses from falls, loss of wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Injuries After Slip and Falls

costly injuries

Of the millions that suffer from slip and falls every year, 37.3 million of them are so severe that they require a trip to the ER. The type of injury can vary depending on how the fall occurred and what parts of the body were impacted.

If someone falls and receives a head injury, for example, or damages their spine, they are more likely to suffer lifelong disabilities or death. Non-fatal fall injuries should not be dismissed as minor injuries; those non-fatal falls can be very serious!

Falls can cause serious injuries. Some of these most severe and even fatal injuries can include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and other head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Neck injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Severe fractures, especially hip fractures
  • Torn ligaments and other soft tissue injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Deep lacerations
  • Impairment to parts of the body/loss of use of limbs/amputation
  • Severe facial damage
  • Loss of vision
  • Cognitive decline or functional decline in the weeks nd months following nonfatal falls

Every facility has an obligation to prevent falls. This means they must take immediate action when they identify potential hazards, including loose carpets, wet floors, and any other dangerous circumstances. Injury prevention from falls is the responsibility of every property owner and manager.

Recovering from a Slip and Fall

Recovering from fall related injuries can take a long time. Head injuries, broken bones, lacerations, serious bruising, and other fall related injuries can be painful and expensive to treat.

Falls result in decreased quality of life for many older adults, and the financial impact can be serious. Medicare coverage should take care of trips to emergency departments, but senior falls usually result in more than just a need for emergency treatment.

Patients, especially older adults, may need:

  • Transportation to emergency departments
  • Surgeries
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Prescription drugs to treat pain and reduce infection risk after surgery
  • Human services, including therapists to visit your home to help you with strength building, balance exercises, and other recovery goals

Try not to rush your recovery from a fall. Related injuries can take weeks or even months to resolve. There can be a significant difference between one person’s journey toward healing and another. Gender differences play a part, as female patients tend to take a longer time to recover from falls than males.

For example, a hip fracture could take 6 months to heal. Falls that cause a head injury may lead to weeks or even months of treatment.

Medical costs add up during this time. The financial burden of any physical injury can be a challenge for fall victims, especially older adults who are part of an aged Medicare population.

You may need to pause all household duties while you recover. Hip fractures and fall-related injuries should be taken seriously by the caregivers of older adults.

Slip and Falls in the Elderly

The American Geriatrics Society reports that slip and fall accidents are the top cause of injuries and emergency room visits for older adults in the United States. Seniors are at high risk for falls due to age-related issues like decreased mobility, poor vision, medication side effects, and cognitive deterioration.

According to The Center For Disease Control and Prevention, each year, about 1 in 4 Americans over 65 slips or trips and falls. Less than half tell their doctor about it. However, 20-30% of falls cause moderate to severe injuries like broken bones or head trauma in elderly patients. The most common injuries from slip and falls for seniors are hip fractures, followed by injuries to the hand/wrist, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and elbow.

Fractures require surgery and extended rehab which can lead to loss of ability to live independently. The American Geriatrics Society found almost all nonfatal bathroom falls among the elderly result in injury. Slips in the bathroom often end tragically with a broken hip or head injury. Preventing slip and fall hazards for older adults reduces risk for potentially life-changing traumatic injuries and loss of independence. Legal support can help injured victims.

Causes of Slip and Falls

Children and older adults are at increased risk of being involved in slip and falls. With children, this is because they are more likely to put themselves into precarious situations where they can fall from great heights, such as falling off of a slide on a playground or falling out of a tree.

Older adults, due to their more fragile bodies and loss of stability, can easily lose their balance and fall in any number of situations, such as going up and down stairs or simply walking across uneven surfaces.

An additional category is falls that occur at work. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falls are the leading cause of worker’s compensation claims. Risk factors on the job include working at heights, using ladders or scaffolding, working around loose cables or cords, walking on slippery surfaces, obstructed views, poorly lit areas, cluttered work spaces, and lack of proper fall protection gear and training.

These falls leave devastating costly injuries that can be difficult–and expensive–to overcome. Fall prevention is the best way to protect older adults and other at risk groups from experiencing the pain and suffering that accompany falls.

However, many factors can contribute to a slip and fall, and anyone of any age can be affected. Some of the more common causes of slip and falls include:

  • Wet surfaces from spilled water or other liquids
  • Icy pavement
  • Recently mopped or waxed floors
  • Steep stairwells
  • Lack of rails, hand-holds, or grab bars
  • Lack of security barriers such as ropes, fences, or guard rails
  • Loose cords
  • Cluttered floors
  • Poor lighting
  • Loose mats or rugs
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Failing to take appropriate preventive measures

Liability in Cases of Slip and Falls

Due to the catastrophic nature of some slip and falls, injured victims may find themselves requiring expensive medical treatments and physical therapy. Not only that, but they may also lose out on income from being out of work, can suffer emotional anguish that may require counseling or therapy, and may even suffer a disability that affects their future earning potential and completely alters their life.

Thanks to premises liability, victims can pursue legal action to seek compensation for all of their pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of wages. However, proving negligence in these types of cases is tricky. You will need to work with a lawyer who has experience handling injuries from slip and falls. The more your lawyer knows about falls, the easier it is for them to guide you through the process, including gathering sufficient evidence to prove fault.

With premises liability cases, to prove fault, you must:

  1. Prove that a hazard existed that had the potential to cause falls
  2. Prove that the property owner was aware of the hazard that could cause falls
  3. Prove that the owner had a duty to address the issue and failed to do so
  4. Prove that the hazard they failed to address caused you to fall and injure yourself

How Property Owners Can Prevent Falls

Property owners can prevent falls by taking reasonable actions to reduce risk factors at their property. Falls can have devastating consequences, and individuals need to take care to prevent circumstances leading to a fall from forming in the first place.

For preventing falls, try these strategies:

  • Install grab bars and railings on stairs and in bathrooms for stability and support
  • Use non-slip mats in bathrooms and kitchens to improve traction and stop falls
  • Improve lighting in dim areas and at the top and bottom of stairs so that people can see potential hazards and avoid falls
  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Mark any spills while you are preparing to clean them up

Following these steps will help a facility’s tenants, employees, customers, and others from dealing with all the medical costs related to falls and serious injury in the facility. The failure to do these things is a liability issue for management.

Additionally, for healthcare providers who serve older adults, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) provides a detailed overview in their Guideline for Prevention of Falls in Older Persons. This overview is extremely beneficial for healthcare providers, of course, but also for businesses and facilities that need to be aware of the risks that older adults face when it comes to fall related injuries.

How Individuals Can Avoid Falls

Older adults and those at greater risk of falls can mitigate risk factors by taking steps like these:

  • Wear shoes with good traction and avoid slippery-soled shoes
  • Pay attention to your surroundings; don’t walk while distracted
  • Hold handrails when using the stairs
  • Keep your center of gravity over your feet
  • Apply salt or sand to icy surfaces to create traction on slippery surfaces
  • Tidy up clutter; don’t leave objects in walking paths.
  • Check rugs and mats are securely fastened; don’t use rugs with curled edges

Following these guidelines can protect you in your own home and in public; older adults can often avoid serious injuries from falls like broken bones, hip fractures, and even traumatic brain injury by exercising these precautions.

Broken Hip After a Slip and Fall

Slip and fall accidents can lead to broken hips, especially for older adults. The Centers for Disease Control reports that over 95% of hip fractures in older Americans are caused by falling. Often, the falls result from tripping on hazard areas in the home.

After a hip fracture, surgery is typically required to repair it. However, complications are common after hip surgery in elderly patients. One out of every three seniors ends up hospitalized again within a month following hip surgery due to issues like infections or blood clots.

Tragically, breaking a hip after a fall can even lead to death for some older adults. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that falling and breaking a hip doubles an older person’s risk of dying within a year following the injury. About a quarter of seniors over 65 who fracture their hip from falling will pass away in the next 6 months.

Clearly, hip fractures after falls pose a major risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises working on balance training and removing home hazards to prevent damaging slip and falls. Seeking immediate medical care after breaking a hip can also reduce dangerous complications. Legal help may be advisable if negligence caused the initial fall and injury.

What Compensation Can You Get for Slip and Fall Injuries?

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to certain types of compensation for your injuries, including both financial and non-financial losses.

Medical Expenses

This covers the medical costs associated with the required for your injuries, such as hospitalization, surgery, medication, physical therapy, rehabilitation, medical equipment, and more.

Lost Income

If your injuries prevent you from working for a period of time, you can recover lost wages. Future loss of earning capacity can also be recovered if you suffer a permanent disability and have additional lost time.

Pain and Suffering

Damages can be recovered for physical pain and mental/emotional suffering caused by the accident and injuries. Some traumatic brain injuries are life-changing, as are other fall-related injuries.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If your injuries prevent you from participating in activities and hobbies you previously enjoyed, you may receive compensation for loss of enjoyment of life. Older adult who lose their mobility because of injuries sustained in falls should be compensated for their losses.

Punitive Damages

In cases of gross negligence or recklessness that causes a serious injury, the at-fault party may be ordered to pay punitive damages as punishment for the serious injury you suffered.

Wrongful Death Damages

If slip and fall accidents result in a death, certain family members may have a wrongful death claim for things like funeral expenses and loss of companionship.

Frequently Asked Questions About Slip and Fall Accidents

What should I do if I slip and fall on someone else’s property?

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, first seek immediate attention for your injuries. Then, document the scene with photos and witness statements if possible. Report the incident and fill out an accident report with the property owner. Finally, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Can I file a claim if I was partly at fault for the slip and fall?

Most states, including Indiana, recognize comparative negligence, so you may be able to recover some damages even if you were partially at fault. An attorney can advise how much your compensation might get reduced based on your percentage of fault.

Is there a time limit to file a slip and fall injury claim?

Yes, every state has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including falls. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for falls is 2 years.

What evidence is needed to prove liability in slip and falls?

Key evidence can include accident reports, photographs, witness statements, medical records, videos, facility maintenance records, and expert testimony on hazards. A lawyer can help obtain what’s needed.

Poynter & Bucheri – Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall accident, the experts at Poynter & Bucheri can help. If you slip and injure yourself on someone else’s property, you have a right to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation, especially if the incident left you with catastrophic injuries. While proving fault in these types of cases can be challenging, it is not impossible. We can help you gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case so you can rest easy knowing you’ll get the compensation you deserve.

Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.