Slip and Fall Injuries Explained
Everyone slips and falls at some point in their life. Slip and falls are a common mishap and something people enjoy laughing about on shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos. Unfortunately, not all these misfortunes are amusing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every five falls causes serious injuries such as broken bones.1 Slip and falls account for over one million emergency room (ER) visits each year.2 They are a leading cause of injury for all age groups, and the incidence of falls increases with each decade of life.3
Many people don’t realize how devastating a slip and fall accident can be until it happens to them. Injuries sustained from slips and falls can take a significant toll on a person’s physical health, mental health, and a family’s financial health. Here, the slip and fall lawyers at Cleveland’s respected Joseph Law Group explain what you should know about these types of accidents, who is liable for damages, and what you should do if you get injured on someone else’s property.
What are the most common types of slip and fall injuries?
Common injuries sustained after a slip and fall accident include fractures, broken bones, head injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, wrist and knee injuries, sprains, soft tissue damage, and cuts and abrasions. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can permanently alter a person’s ability to function.4 Of all fractures from falls, hip injuries are among the most serious and lead to the most significant health problems and the highest number of deaths.5
Where do most slip and fall injuries occur?
Slip and fall injuries can occur just about anywhere, but there are certain places where they are more likely to happen. These include sidewalks, stairs, parking lots, escalators, workplaces, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, sports and entertainment facilities, hotels, casinos, residential homes, and nursing homes. The reasons for slip and fall accidents vary, with many of them being preventable. Slip and fall accidents commonly occur when:
- There isn’t enough traction between a floor and a person’s feet because a surface is wet, oily, or icy
- Ground, flooring, or steps are uneven, unstable, or broken
- Carpets or mats are unsecured, wrinkled, or frayed
- Objects such as merchandising fixtures protrude into walkways, or equipment and debris are left on floors
- Cables running along the ground are not adequately covered
- Handrails are broken or missing
- Poor lighting conditions exist
What should you do after a slip and fall accident?
After a slip and fall accident, the steps you take can affect your health, healing process, and chances of recovering money from injuries that occurred on someone else’s property. To protect your health and legal rights, promptly:
1) Document the scene. Photographic evidence is extremely useful in slip and fall injury cases. If you are able to, or if you can have someone help you do so, you should take photos and videos of the area where you fell. You will want to document any hazards such as spills or holes that may be remedied before an investigation. It is very important to determine what caused your accident. Without an actual cause, it can be difficult to prove a slip and fall case.
2) Report the accident. Make sure the manager, homeowner, or landlord is notified of your accident. In most places of business, managers must file an incident report that gets sent to their corporate headquarters. Ask to receive a copy of the report and make sure all information included is accurate. An incident report should describe when, where, and how you were injured.
3) Look for witnesses. Witness statements can help substantiate your version of the facts and strengthen your personal injury case. The most credible witness statements are from people who are not interested or invested in your case’s outcome. Look for employees, shoppers, coworkers, or onlookers who saw your accident happen. Write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
4) Seek medical attention without delay. You should go to an emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible to have your injuries evaluated and treated by a medical professional. In addition to helping you heal, getting medical treatment ensures there will be medical records and bills, which are crucial evidence necessary to establish a case’s worth and recover compensation. Always tell the doctor or healthcare provider how your injuries occurred, so your medical records reflect that your injuries are associated with the slip and fall accident. Be sure to describe all your symptoms to the doctor, regardless of how minor they may seem. The longer you wait to get medical treatment, the more you compromise the integrity of any insurance claim. Insurance companies can use any gap in treatment to dismiss the link between your injuries and the accident.
5) Follow all medical treatment and advice. It may seem evident that following your doctor’s recommendations will help you get better sooner. Canceling follow-up appointments because you start feeling better or missing physical therapy appointments can imply that you weren’t injured to the degree that you are claiming. Consistent treatment will help bring long-term relief and provide the evidence needed to pursue financial recovery.
6) Limit your communications with involved parties.
Do not assign or accept blame for any part of the accident. Refrain from giving any statements to an insurance company without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Never agree to participate in a recorded statement unless your attorney is present or gives you instructions. Do not sign any papers or agree to any settlement in exchange for not pursuing a lawsuit, as you will likely waive your ability to seek damages for any future medical expenses or wage losses.
When can you sue for a slip and fall accident?
Slip and fall cases are associated with premises liability law, which holds property owners responsible for damage or loss due to negligence or wrongdoing. You can’t file a personal injury lawsuit just because you slip and fall on somebody else’s property. To win one of these cases, you must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff – As an example, a grocery store owes it to their customers and employees to provide safe
conditions on its property.
- The defendant breached that care of duty – This occurs when a defendant fails to recognize a reasonably foreseeable dangerous condition, warn people about it, or remedy a hazard, such as crumbling steps.
- The plaintiff’s injuries were directly related to the slip and fall accident – Again, accident reports, witness testimony, and medical records help strengthen any slip and fall case. Insurance companies often deny claims, arguing that you are at fault for your injuries, your injuries were pre-existing, or the property owner did nothing wrong.
What are slip and fall cases worth?
Since injuries sustained from slip and fall accidents can range from mild abrasions to severe fractures and life-altering brain injuries, settlements will vary depending on the severity of damages. Most slip and fall cases get resolved through settlements without ever going to trial. The precise amount awarded will depend on the nature and extent of the injury, degree of damage or disability, income loss, evidence strength, cause of the accident, degree of negligence, and applicable laws. A personal injury lawyer who specializes in slip and fall cases should be able to tell you what your case is worth after investigating all the facts.
At Joseph Law Group, we employ a systematic approach to gathering evidence and proving negligence in the slip and fall cases we handle to help our clients get the maximum compensation they deserve. Call us at (216) 912-7402 to learn how we can help. Our initial consultations are always free, and we never charge a fee unless we win your case.
1,4,5 “Important Facts about Falls.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Feb. 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html.
2,3 “Slip & Fall Quick Facts.” National Floor Safety Institute, https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/.