One of the sneakiest accidents that can happen to almost anybody, at any time, is a slip-and-fall. These accidents almost always occur in an unforeseen place, at a time when you are least expecting it—at the grocery store, in the hallway at the office, exiting the restroom at a restaurant, or even while visiting someone else’s home.
These unfortunate accidents can be minor, and even humorous. The entire America’s Funniest Home Videos television show was almost solely built on this concept. But they are not always funny, and they are not always minor.
Slip-and-falls can be seriously dangerous with grave consequences and injuries. These incidents are often caused by a change in the expected surface someone is walking on. Whether the ground is slippery from a liquid, uneven from a crack in the sidewalk, or has a random step that is difficult to see, it only takes a small change to cause someone to hit the ground with force. Part of what makes slip-and-falls so dangerous is the physics behind how a human falls. When someone slips or trips, their feet often slide ‘out from under them’. As their feet move out and upward, the head and upper-torso move in the opposite direction, straight toward the ground. And when someone falls without the chance to put out their hands, the results can be disastrous.
It should be noted that these types of accidents are easy to prevent if the responsible party acts accordingly. Fixing the walkway, buying a non-slip mat, or painting a step bright yellow could make all the difference between someone going on with their day and someone suffering from a life-altering accident.
COMMON CAUSES FOR A SLIP- OR TRIP-AND-FALL
COMMON INJURIES THAT RESULT FROM A SLIP OR TRIP AND FALL
According to the National Safety Council, accidents in which a person either slips or trips while walking result in almost 9 million hospital emergency room visits per year. Most people would assume that these accidents only result in minor injuries like a little bruising or scraping. However, serious injuries can occur due to the way the human body falls and the unexpected and surprising nature of the accident. Often, it is the suddenness of the incident that allows so much room for injury, since the body has little time to prepare itself.
Common injuries from slip- or trip-and-falls include:
Bruises, Cuts, and Scrapes. As mentioned earlier, slip and falls are not always serious or life-threatening events. Often, the most common injuries from the resulting fall are bruising, scrapes, and/or cuts that can range from mild to major, but they almost always are completely recoverable. This doesn’t mean they aren’t painful; they just won’t cause lasting trauma or disability.
Sprains and Fractures. The second most common injury from falling is an injury to the muscles, ligaments, and bones. In many cases, these parts of the body absorb most of the impact and take most of the falling pressure. For example, slipping or tripping can cause a person to twist their ankle, spraining the connective ligaments. Some sprains and twists are caused by the body’s natural reaction to trying to catch itself, but other injuries are caused by the impact itself. For example, the impact of landing on the ground can fracture or break bones. The most common fractures resulting from falls are to the hand, forearm, upper arm, spine, hip, pelvis, leg, and ankle; whichever is the first point of contact.
Shoulder Dislocation. As a person slips and falls, it is not uncommon for them to land on their shoulder directly, or for it to take a brunt of the impact through the hand and arm. These injuries could be minor, like sprains or bruising, or more serious like the dislocation of the shoulder—known as a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves connecting the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand. The injuries tend to be common in slip and falls and are extremely painful. They are, however, considered highly treatable.
Head and Brain Injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury—also known as a TBI. As mentioned above, slip and fall type injuries often cause a person’s head to go speeding towards the ground, with little or no warning. These injuries are called ‘traumatic’ because any damage that occurs to the brain—the body’s most important organ—is considered serious. However, TBIs run the gamut on a scale of severity. Some people may suffer a minor concussion that heals relatively quickly, while others may receive a TBI that causes severe swelling of the brain, accompanied by seizures, mood changes, cognitive impairment, and other life-long debilitations. Slip- and trip-and-falls cause 40% of all TBIs in the US that require emergency treatment.
Back and Spine Injuries. Next to the brain, which is required to breathe, the spine is almost equally important in maintaining life. The spine and the spinal cord are responsible for almost every movement in the human body. When a person slips and falls, they often injure their back in some way. It may be from the twisting motion, from the sudden impact of falling on their head or buttocks, or from contact with a foreign object like the corner of a step. This impact can strain the spinal muscles and ligaments, fractured vertebrae, cause spinal discs to bulge or herniate, or damage the spinal cord itself. Because of the 100 billion+ nerves the spine is connected to, these types of injuries are almost guaranteed to be painful. An injury to the spinal cord can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, varying disabilities, a lifetime of pain and suffering, or any other number of neurologic and sensory impairments.
Neck Injuries. When someone injures their neck, they’re actually injuring the upper, cervical portion of their spine. For this reason, most neck injuries are similar to back injuries in that damage can occur to the vertebra bone, the spinal cord, the spinal disc, or any of the nerves, muscles, and ligaments around it. What makes a neck injury so serious is its relation to the rest of the spine and body. Since damage to the neck occurs at the upper portion of the spine, it increases the chances of temporary or permanent disability or paralysis to more part of the body. Basically, everything from the neck down is at risk. Neck injuries from slip and falls can be caused by the whiplash motion of the sudden fall, or from a person actually landing on their head or neck.
WHO IS LIABLE?
The most common person liable for slip and fall injuries is the property owner where the fall occurred. However, other, third-parties may be responsible as well.
CONTACT PINELLAS COUNTY TRIP AND FALL ATTORNEYS DOLMAN LAW GROUP
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to slipping or tripping on someone’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. The easiest and smartest way to determine if you have a case is to contact an experienced trip and fall attorney.
Our attorneys at Dolman Law Group will aggressively fight to hold the negligent party responsible for the damages they have caused and to ensure our client gets the compensation they deserve. We make it our mission to ensure that our clients heal physically, emotionally, and financially.
For a free and confidential consultation on your case, call us today at 727-451-6900 or contact us electronically via our online contact form.