- Slip and fall accidents often happen in highly trafficked areas, such as grocery and retail stores, medical facilities, movie theaters, and airports.
- Property owners and managers can be responsible for injuries if they neglected to mitigate the hazard.
- Injuries from slip and fall accidents can range from minor cuts and bruises to Traumatic Brain Injuries and permanent paralysis.
What Typically Causes a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slips and falls happen when hazards, ranging from spills on a slick floor to uneven surfaces due to crumbling concrete, are allowed to remain where the public is likely to encounter them.
It is the responsibility of a property’s owner or manager to mitigate hazards as soon as they are identified by providing warning signs or eliminating the threat altogether. Neglecting to do so could render the responsible person liable for damages and injuries sustained by a victim.
Common Places Where Slip and Falls Take Place
Highly trafficked areas, such as grocery store aisles, casino entrances, or retailer check-out lines, can be prime locations for slips, trips, and subsequent falls that could result in serious injuries.
Here are a few common examples of where slip and falls are likely to occur:
- Grocery stores – Retail establishments where merchandise can fall from shelves to the floor are a prime reason visitors may trip in aisles. In addition, both wet and dry spills can compromise footing and create hazards.
- Service stations/convenience stores – It is not uncommon for spills of automotive products, including gas, oil, and additives, to be spilled on the pavement outside and tracked into the interior of stores, creating slip hazards.
- Restaurants – Wet, greasy, or icy spills are extremely dangerous if not cleaned up promptly and thoroughly. Dim lighting, a feature many eateries use to create ambiance, also makes it difficult to visualize hazards, compounding the danger.
- Medical treatment facilities – Hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes are often the site of serious slip and fall accidents. Patients, staff, and visitors are regularly exposed to wet or slippery flooring.
- Sports stadiums – With excited fans walking up and down steps, spills to and from refreshment stands are likely to occur.
- Airports – The acres of polished flooring in airport terminals can be a danger, particularly when people encounter spills or wet flooring as they hurry to and from gates.
- Swimming pools – Older pools constructed before non-slip decking was available are often slippery – and extremely dangerous – when wet.
- Theaters – Theater-goers must often find their seats in darkness. This makes it highly unlikely that they’ll see spills from soft drinks, popcorn, or other items on the floor.
- Shopping malls – Common areas, like hallways and restrooms, in highly trafficked malls can be prime spots for spills that lead to falls.
- The workplace – No matter where you work, slip and fall threats may be lurking. In places that feel familiar, people often stop being watchful, causing accidents.
Injuries Often Caused By Slip and Falls
The injuries below are some, but certainly not all, of those common in slip and fall accidents.
Broken bones result when excessive pressure and weight are suddenly put upon a bone. This can easily happen in a fall when the victim’s entire weight is brought to bear upon a joint or bone. Hips, wrists and ankles are often the bones broken in a fall.
Older people are more likely to suffer a fracture than younger folks simply because the elderly often have less bone density, allowing bones to break more easily. This is why slip and falls in senior medical care facilities can be devastating or even fatal.
In Georgia, your age or level of infirmity has little or no bearing on your legal right to recover compensation from a slip and fall caused by someone else’s negligence.
Soft tissue injuries
Because soft tissue injuries are not visible to the naked eye, they are often neglected after a slip and fall accident.
From ankle sprains to torn muscles and tendons, soft-tissue injuries can be the source of chronic pain and long-term mobility issues. So, it’s a good rule of thumb to visit a health care professional following a slip and fall to confirm you do not have any hidden injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
A blow to the head due to a fall can cause a number of brain injuries, including concussions, skull fractures, hematomas, intracerebral hemorrhages, or brain bleeds, all of which can be devastating.
Like other soft-tissue injuries, bruising or other damage inside the skull is often not visible and, therefore, can be missed after a fall. Such injuries may cause seizures, loss of speech and movement, cognitive impairment, and a long list of other life-altering consequences. Delay in recognizing a TBI can even be fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than 95% of broken hips happen as a result of falls. While hip fractures are commonly associated with the elderly, they can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, for older individuals, this type of injury can lead to a downward spiral of declining health.
These fractures commonly require surgery and hospitalization, which can balloon into time spent in a rehabilitation facility.
Sprains/strains to ankles and wrists
When a person falls, they usually automatically put their hands and arms out to catch themselves. But this instinctive reaction to a fall can result in injuries to the wrists and ankles. In addition, torn or stretched ligaments and tendons can be very painful and difficult to heal as there is little blood circulation to them. This can cause a slow recovery period that interferes with normal activities.
Back and spinal cord injuries
The jolt caused by a fall can easily fracture spinal vertebrae or cause the discs that cushion the vertebrae to slip, rupture, or herniate, all of which can cause substantial pain and limits to mobility. Such injuries may even result in temporary or permanent paralysis as well as other impairment to the neurological system. Falls cause about one-fourth of spinal injuries overall and the majority of such injuries among senior citizens.
Shoulder and neck injuries
When a victim lands upon the shoulder or neck or strains them while attempting to cushion the fall, it can cause severe injuries.
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body. The neck can also be injured in conjunction with the shoulder as they work together to provide upper body mobility. As with spinal injuries, such impacts upon the neck and shoulder can have painful and life-long consequences when treatment is delayed or ignored entirely.
Twisting the knee when falling is an extremely common injury. Like shoulders, knees are made up of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage that work together to provide smooth, fluid motion. Unfortunately, wrenching these components of the knee can result in tears, stretching, and painful damage that may require surgery. The recovery time for knee injuries can also be prolonged and painful.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, seeing a physician can speed your recovery and mitigate the impact such a fall can have on your quality of life .
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