January 2, 2018
What You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Accidents
By Jonathan Damashek
Slipping and falling sounds like such a minor thing. You trip over something or otherwise lose your balance, fall down, get up, and go on with your life. No big deal – or is it? Actually, a fall can be very serious and often is. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits and represent 21.3 percent of the more than eight million ER visits each year. This amounts to over 1.7 million annual ER visits. Even more troubling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
While most falls are not fatal, the injuries you may receive from them not only can be painful, but also serious or even catastrophic since many falls have long-lasting consequences. For instance, a fall can result in one or more of the following:
- Fractures, particularly of the hip, arm, wrist, and ankle
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Severe bruises
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that falls in the workplace accounted for 849 deaths in 2016, up from 800 in 2015. The number of fatal falls for all workers has increased 25 percent since 2011, but for workers such as roofers, carpenters, tree trimmers and tractor-trailer drivers, that 25 percent increase occurred in only one year, from 2015 to 2016.
Slip and fall injuries are the leading reason why workers miss work, with 22 percent of them requiring over a month away from work. In addition, falls also are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims each year. The National Safety Council says that annual compensation and medical costs exceed $70 billion.
Falls Among the Elderly
Your chances of falling go up each decade of your life. By the time you reach age 65, you have a one in three chance of falling. In addition, the injuries you receive likely will be more serious and have longer lasting consequences than had you been younger when you fell.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission lists floors and flooring materials as causing over two million fall injuries each year. Hip and other fractures are by far the most serious consequence of falls by elderly people. In fact, falls account for nearly 87 percent of all fractures received by people over the age of 65 and are the second leading cause of brain and spinal cord injuries in this age demographic. A full 50 percent of elderly hip fracture patients cannot live independently after their injury and account for 40 percent of all nursing home admissions.
Being admitted to a nursing home, however, is no guarantee of future safety from falling. In fact, more than 60 percent of nursing home residents fall each year, often because they become impatient waiting for a nurse or other attendant to help them do something, such as getting out of bed to go to the bathroom, and undertake the activity on their own.
CDC data show that the annual death rate per 100,000 falls among people over age 65 has increased from 43,000 in 2005 to 58,000 in 2014. Direct medical costs stand at over $31 billion each year.
Elements of a Successful Slip and Fall Lawsuit
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident, you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries if the fall was caused by someone else’s negligence. Should you decide to sue that person for money damages, the New York City Bar advises that you will be required to prove the following five things in order to be successful in your lawsuit:
- A walking surface, such as a floor or sidewalk, contained a dangerous condition such as water, soap, ice, oil, etc., or a defect such as a hole or crack.
- The property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and/or defect.
- He or she failed to clean up or fix the condition or defect or did so in such a way as to leave the hazard or make it worse.
- He or she failed to warn of the danger by means of a sign, rope or other warning indication.
- The condition or defect caused you to slip and fall, resulting in your injury and/or property damage.