Surprisingly, a slip and fall injury can be one of the most serious accidents an individual can experience. Falls can result in serious trauma to the head/brain, complex fractures, severe bleeding and other debilitating injuries.
Complicating the risks is the fact that trips / slips / falls can happen anywhere – in the home, in the workplace, public spaces, in stairwells or on a slippery floor. The potential hazards are widespread and present a dangerous risk.
Personal injury claims are considered on the basis of legal negligence. In short, the party responsible for the circumstances that led to an injury do not have to have acted willfully – just neglectfully.
|For examples, stores have a reasonable expectation to warn of a slippery floor. If a customer slips and falls, the store may be liable. The same is true if a building owner does not make sure the rail on a stairway is stable, or if a business has uneven steps.|
Most Common Slip and Fall Injuries
Slips and falls are unpredictable, but the causes aren’t. Spinalcord.com has compiled a list of the most common types of falls and the injuries they may produce.
- Soft Tissue Injuries – Soft tissue injuries aren’t outwardly visible, which can make them difficult to prove in a lawsuit. You might not even realize that you have a soft tissue injury until days, or even weeks, after the initial fall. Soft tissue injuries range from minor ankle and wrist sprains to devastating tears in tendons and ligaments.
Left untreated, soft tissue injuries can cause chronic pain and may also make you more vulnerable to subsequent injuries. Even if you feel fine after a fall, it’s important to seek medical care, since soft tissue injuries often don’t produce immediate symptoms.
- Head Injuries – Even an apparent minor head injury is a medical emergency. If you fall and hit your head—especially if there is swelling, bleeding, or even a brief loss of consciousness—you need immediate medical care.
- Cuts and Abrasions – Slips and falls that produce cuts and abrasions can look quite severe, but the injuries are often less extensive than other sorts of slips and falls. If the impact of the fall is sufficiently hefty, however, cuts and abrasions may rest atop more serious injuries, such as concussions and broken bones.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is either severed or compressed. These injuries are almost always life-threatening, and they demand immediate medical care, as well as ongoing treatment.
- Broken Bones – Broken bones are painful, scary, and can range from only minor fractures to severe breaks requiring numerous surgeries. The tissue surrounding broken bones may also be damaged, necessitating long-term therapy to prevent chronic pain and neuromuscular dysfunction.
Most Common Causes of Trip & Fall Injury
- Improperly constructed / engineered walkways, curbs or stairs.
- Debris on the floor, such as fruit spilled at a grocery store.
- A floor that is excessively wet, without appropriate warning, such as might occur after waxing a linoleum floor.
- Uneven surfaces, such as a hole or indentation in a concrete floor.
- Unsafe construction or work zones.
The above common causes of slips and falls are only examples – the fact is, property owners can be negligent in many ways that can result in fall injuries. For example, failure to properly maintain a building facility or to properly repair surfaces can create an environment that increases one’s risk of injury.
Who is At Risk for Slip & Fall Injuries?
While often pedestrians and workers are injured through trips, two populations are particularly at risk: children and the elderly. Both are more vulnerable to their surroundings, and recovery is complicated by their age.
Children & Fall Injuries
Children, because of their nature, are most susceptible to slip and fall injuries; luckily, they are also the most resilient age group. Every parent is experienced with the scrapes and bruises that come with childhood, on the playground, participating in games and simple interactions. However, with the number of falls a child typically takes, it’s often difficult to tell which falls are serious and which are just bumps. Kidshealth.org has advice for when a fall has gone past just a bandaid. They suggest seeking medical help if your child:
- becomes very sleepy or is difficult to wake up
- becomes easily annoyed or upset and cannot be comforted
- vomits more than two or three times
- complains of head, neck, or back pain
- complains of increasing pain anywhere
- is not walking normally
- does not seem to be focusing his or her eyes normally
- has any behavior or symptoms that worry you.
A bump, bruise or even broken bone – while concerning for any parent – isn’t always a legal matter. However, there are circumstances where the fall injury is due to the negligence of someone else:
- Hospital / Medical Provider: A child may be labeled a ‘fall risk’ due to anesthesia or medication. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to keep the patient safe from a trip or fall.
- Sports Arena / Facility: Public venues are often constructed with adults in mind, but children often attend these public accommodations as well. Property owners have a responsibility to take “reasonable care” in the construction, maintenance, and upkeep of their properties to protect all attendees.
- Schools / Day Care: While minor scrapes are part of childhood, poorly maintained or neglectfully supervised premises can result in slips and falls. Children are often unaware of their surroundings, distracted by others around them, and potentially carrying books and other things. Failure to protect students from active maintenance projects or to properly repair a known safety risk can cause liability issues for the property owner.
The Elderly: At Risk for Fall Injuries
Slip and fall injuries are especially dangerous for the elderly.
Falls are the fifth-leading cause of death and are the cause of 40 percent of fatal injuries for people 65 and older.
A variety of factors can add to the dangers of falls for seniors, including: poor posture control, slow reaction time, infrequent activity, poor vision, impaired balance, medication side effects, and previous injuries or falls.
Because the elderly are often frail, institutions that cater to them have a reasonable expectation to take extra safety precautions to help them avoid injury. This is especially true in health facilities, including nursing and assisted living homes, hospitals and medical centers. As these facilities specialize in helping the infirm, safeguards should be in place. However, that is not always the case. If an elderly individual falls and suffers an injury in any of these facilities, liability often falls on the shoulders of the property owners and facility management.
Getting Help for a Slip & Fall in Tucson, AZ
Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC has more than two decades’ experience litigating slip and fall cases. Located in Tucson’s Barrio Historico, our team of experienced and compassionate lawyers are here to help. Set up a free consultation to make sure your rights are protected.
Slip and fall injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. We receive no attorney fees unless we secure financial compensation for your injuries. Any expenses advanced by the law firm are recouped from the settlement or judgment. It is important to seek legal counsel quickly to make sure your claim, should you have one, is not barred by the statute of limitations under Arizona law.