Slip and fall accidents are among the most common accidents in the United States. Yet people often don’t report them if they think the accident was their fault because they were clumsy or not paying attention or they didn’t really hurt themselves.
However, another party is often liable for the conditions that cause a slip and fall accident. If you slip and fall and don’t report it, the hazard that caused the accident remains, and other people may fall victim to it. Also, never assume you didn’t really hurt yourself in a slip and fall. Minor accidents can have lingering consequences. Often the injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident don’t manifest themselves for hours or days after the fall. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible after you slip and fall.
The statistics can be quite alarming. The Mayo Clinic reports that over 10 million people a year are injured in slip and fall accidents. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which works under the Center for Disease Control (CDC), reports that slips and falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries for all age groups except 10 to 24, and for that group is the second leading cause of nonfatal injuries.
Meanwhile, the CDC also reports that one in four adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall, but only half of them will be reported. Every year, more than 3 million senior citizens are treated for falls in emergency rooms across the United States. Additionally, 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by slips and falls.
The National Safety Council says these accidents are the number one danger for senior citizens, while the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) reports that they are one of the top causes of injury-related fatalities for those over the age of 65 and are the leading cause for those over 85. They are also a leading cause of unintentional injuries.
Here are a few more statistics from the NSFI about slip and fall accidents:
As you can see, slip and fall accidents need to be taken seriously, especially by older Americans.
If you slip and fall, you can injure any one of several parts of your body. And some of these injuries will not be detectable immediately. What seems like a minor sprain or a sore leg can be a torn ligament or even a fracture. After you suffer a slip and fall, it’s critical you seek medical attention immediately.
Some of the more common kinds of injuries suffered in slips and falls include:
1. Bruises and Cuts
The bruises and cuts you suffered when you slip and fall can appear severe but may be less serious than other injuries listed below. It’s not unusual to suffer bruises on your arms, legs, head or hips. However, these bruises aren’t always minor. Frequently, bruising and cuts hide more serious injuries below the skin. It’s always worth getting them checked out. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of your injuries. This documentation will help enormously if you decide to sue.
2. Stretched Tendons, Torn Ligaments Or Pulled Muscles
Often when we slip and fall, our muscles tense to protect us. We may twist our bodies or stretch out our hands to catch ourselves. Unfortunately, our attempts to protect ourselves may actually end up causing some damages. Twisting may lead to pulled muscles, torn ligaments or stretched tendons. The same is true when we reach out our hands to catch ourselves.
While these injuries can seem minor and perhaps not painful at first, they can ultimately be quite debilitating. A badly pulled muscle may require weeks of rest to recover. Stretched tendons and torn ligaments also have long recovery periods because they don’t tend to receive a lot of blood flow and thus heal slowly. Don’t assume that just because you have one of these injuries, you’ll be fine.
3. Sprained or Broken Wrists or Ankles
As mentioned above, when we fall, our impulse is to throw out our hands to try to protect ourselves or prevent ourselves from falling too hard. Or we try to catch ourselves from falling. This often puts far too much pressure on our wrists or ankles. In these cases, a sprained wrist or ankle is a common result, but it’s also not unusual for a wrist or ankle to break.
4. Broken Arms or Legs
When you break an arm or a leg, it’s also possible for the tissue surrounding the break to be damaged. This may result in the need for long-term therapy to deal with chronic pain and dysfunctions with the neuromuscular system.
Sometimes people think that if they can move their arm or joint, there is no break. However, you always need an x-ray to determine whether you’ve broken a bone. If you had a bad slip and fall, and you feel intense pain in a joint or in a bone, go to an emergency room immediately.
5. Fractured Collarbones
If you fall forward and your shoulder strikes the ground first, you could break your collarbone. While collarbones heal relatively quickly, it can be an incredibly painful and inconvenient injury.
6. Dislocated Shoulder
When you fall and hit the shoulder first, even if you don’t fracture your clavicle, you may dislocate your shoulder. While a dislocated shoulder is easier to treat than a broken collarbone, it still can be excruciating and result in weeks of rest and rehabilitation.
7. Damaged Knees
When you fall forward, your knees often strike the ground first. Depending upon how hard you fall and the type of surface on which you fall, you may injure one of the ligaments in your knee or, even worse, dislocate or fracture your patella. Knee damage can also result in the need for reconstructive surgery.
8. Bruised or Fractured Tailbone
If you have ever fallen backward onto your buttocks, you know how painful it can be. If the force of the fall is great enough, however, you can bruise or even fracture your tailbone. While this may seem like an almost humorous injury, it is far from funny for the person who suffers a bruised or a broken tailbone. It is difficult to sit, stand, use the bathroom, even sleep. In many cases, it is necessary to carry a soft pillow with you everywhere you go, whether to a restaurant or to your workplace to sit, comfortably. A bruised or fractured tailbone is no laughing matter.
9. Hip Fractures
This is the most common form of injury for those aged 65 years and older. The CDC reports that nearly all hip fractures are the result of slips and falls. Almost all these injuries will result in hospitalization or the need for seniors to live in a nursing home because of the need for constant care. Hip fractures can also be the most deadly form of injury for those aged 65 and older.
10. Injured Spinal Cords
An injured spinal cord is one of the most severe injuries you can suffer during a slip and fall. If you fall onto your back, the impact of this force is usually borne by your spine. The result can be a chipped vertebra, a slipped disc, nerve damage or even permanent damage to your spinal cord which can result in total or partial paralysis. If you land hard on your back when you slip and fall, even if it does not seem serious, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention.
Spinal cord injuries require expensive treatment, frequently resulting in bills of over $1 million or more in the first year. In most cases, the higher up your spinal cord injury, the more damage will result.
11. Head Injuries
Many times when people slip and fall and hit their heads, they may only feel a mild headache at first. But traumatic brain injury (TBI) may not appear for hours or sometimes even a day or two. Critical symptoms to look for include:
12. Soft Tissue Damage
This can often be the most difficult kind of damage to diagnose successfully. They can also be among the most painful injuries. These injuries are not usually visible, but your body is sore after a fall. They may not manifest themselves until days or weeks after you suffer an injury. Untreated, these injuries can lead to chronic pain and often are a leading cause of other injuries as you compensate for the pain by overusing then damaging another part of your body.
Any of these slip and fall injuries can result in expensive medical bills, loss of income and long-term recovery. If you experience a slip and fall injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Slip and fall injuries can be caused by several different hazards:
This is particularly a concern if you live in an apartment with poor lighting and dim hallways and stairwells. If you have repeatedly told your landlord or property manager that the hallways and stairwells are dark and dangerous, and they do not fix them before you or someone else slips and falls and hurts themselves, they can be sued for their negligence.
The Maine Department of Labor reported that the average claim for snow or ice-related falls was $33,000. A workers’ comp claim for the same injury resulted in a $48,000 claim. Most states don’t require property owners to remove snow or ice that builds up outside their properties. If conditions on the property, however, lead to an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice, the property owner may be held responsible. Also, if they decide to remove snow and ice, they need to do so responsibly.
3. Design Standards
The design of the building may lead to slips or falls, especially if there are sudden changes in flooring levels which can be made worse by poor lighting or narrow stairs.
This can be a particular problem at a construction or a worksite. Loose debris in a neighbor’s yard or in their homes can also be a hazard.
5. Torn Carpeting
Torn carpeting can be a problem in a neighbor’s home, in one’s workplace, at a store or at a worksite. Again, torn carpeting slip and fall accidents are more likely to happen in poorly lit locations such as hallways or stairwells or in darker areas of a home or a business.
6. Wet or Slippery Floors</strong
It’s not unusual to hear of slip and fall accidents in grocery stores or in the lobbies of business offices. Most property owners do what they can to notify people if floors are wet but not always. If someone has notified the property owner that their floor is slippery and potentially dangerous, and they don’t do anything to fix the situation, their negligence could lead to a lawsuit.
7. Cracked or Broken Public Sidewalks
Municipalities are responsible for public sidewalks and maintaining them in reasonable condition. If you suffer a slip or fall accident because you trip on a crack in a public sidewalk, you need to act quickly. Local, state and federal government entities are often protected by the law and are granted immunity in some cases. There is also a much shorter window for filing a claim against any form of government entity if you are injured in a slip and fall accident on government property. If this happens, contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so you do not miss your chance to file a claim if necessary.
If you or a member of your family were injured because of a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for these injuries. Slip and fall injuries can sometimes be difficult to prove, but working with an experienced lawyer can help you win your case.
The team of Chicago personal injury attorneys at Argionis and Associates have experience and knowledge in dealing with slip and fall injuries, and we can help you recover the damages to which you are entitled. As one of the leading law practices in the Chicago area, we have recovered millions of dollars in damages and awards for our clients.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury and would like to talk to a Chicago slip and fall accident lawyer, you can call us at 312-626-6294 or visit our contact us page to schedule a free consultation. You can leave us your contact details and some information or questions about your accident. A member of our team will get back to you as soon as possible.