Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury claims, particularly when sustained in the workplace. According to the World Health Organisation, 20-30% of older people involved in these accidents suffer moderate to severe injuries. While not every slip and fall accident is life-threatening, your age, gender, and occupation can put you at a far greater risk of life-changing injuries.
Given the nature of slip and fall accidents, even a seemingly minor fall can cause major injuries depending on how your body falls or what caused the accident. With that in mind, here are the most common slip and fall accident injuries.
Slip and Fall vs. Trip and Fall
Before we get started, however, it’s worth understanding the difference between a slip and fall and a trip and fall accident. People often assume these accidents are the same, however, when you pursue legal action it’s vital to work with the correct definition.
Both of these accidents fall under premises liability. In short, this means that the accident happened on someone else’s property. In some cases, you may have to prove that the accident occurred because the owner was negligent.
In a slip and fall accident, the fall is caused by a slippery surface. This could be a spilled liquid in a grocery store or an icy path.
In a trip and fall accident, the fall is caused by an object in your pathway or an uneven surface. This could be a box left in the middle of a store, a cable running across a stage, or a raised crack on a walkway.
It’s important to differentiate between these types of accidents because both of these have different ranges of injuries.
Spine, hip, and back of the head injuries are more common in slip and fall accidents because the body typically falls backward.
However, trip and fall accidents more commonly result in injuries to joints in the arms and legs or facial injuries. This is because, when you trip, you typically fall forwards.
Common Slip and Fall Accident Injuries
Bruises, Scrapes, and Cuts
Superficial skin wounds and bruises are often the most common fall injuries. That’s not to say that they can’t be serious, as any break in the skin barrier can lead to infection, particularly if the slip and fall accident was caused by a toxic substance.
More often than not, however, bruises, scrapes, and cuts will heal within a few weeks, and they don’t generally cause lasting trauma or disability.
Sprains are an injury to the ligaments in your joints, and they’re very common with any fall injury. In most cases, sprains are caused by your body trying to catch itself as it falls or by the force of the impact itself.
Because this is an injury to your ligaments, sprains need a lot more time to heal and, in some cases, may require physiotherapy to help repair the joint.
Dislocations and Fractures
Shoulder dislocations are common in slip and fall injuries, particularly if you land directly on your shoulder. Depending on how you land, you may also dislocate. Hip and elbow dislocation is less common, but can also occur as a result of a fall.
In some cases, you may also break a bone, and fractures typically occur in the first part of your body that contacts the ground. Arm, leg, ankle, and hand fractures are common. In some rare cases, falls can cause spinal, pelvic, or hip fractures and the risk of this increases as you age.
Both of these injuries are extremely painful but, with prompt medical attention, are highly treatable. Again, these injuries will typically mean you can’t work until they heal, and you may need physiotherapy, particularly in the event of a dislocation.
Depending on how you fall, your body might instinctively move your knees beneath you to absorb the shock of the fall. Because of this, you might suffer a knee injury from a slip and fall accident. This could range from superficial cuts and scrapes to more severe injuries like sprains, dislocations, damage to the patella, or even a fracture.
With your knees being major weight-bearing joints, any damage to your knees will require plenty of time to heal and ongoing physiotherapy. In some cases, you may be left with chronic pain and a reduced range of motion.
In legal terms, a neck injury is damage to the cervical (above the shoulders) part of your spine. Damage to this part of your spine can result in a sprain, damage to the bones of your spinal column, or nerve damage.
In some rare cases, damage to the nerves in your neck can result in temporary or permanent disability or paralysis. This can be a life-changing injury that prevents you from being able to work.
An injury to the neck requires immediate medical attention and special treatment.
Back and Spine Injuries
During a fall, your body will instinctively twist and move to prevent damage. Falls commonly cause spine injuries or pain because of how your body suddenly twists, the impact of the fall, and in some cases, contact with a foreign object that causes your body to fall unnaturally.
Back and spine injuries can range from minor sprains and strains up to permanent paralysis and disability, chronic pain, and a limited range of motion.
As with neck injuries, back and spine injuries require immediate medical attention and specialist treatment. Depending on the injury and the area of the spine that’s damaged, you will likely be unable to work for up to a year and need ongoing physiotherapy.
Head and Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are unfortunately a common result of a fall. Your brain is extremely delicate, and the velocity of your head rushing to the ground can cause injuries ranging from mild concussions to skull fractures, severe brain swelling, or a major contusion.
Potential brain injuries always require immediate medical attention, tests, and a hospital stays to determine if there will be any lasting damage.
TBIs can lead to permanent injuries like brain damage, changes in your personality, memory issues, strokes, and other neurological conditions.
What to do if I’m Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident
If you’ve slipped and fallen on another person’s property, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. By seeking treatment early, you’ll reduce the likelihood of sprains and fractures causing lasting damage. A medical professional will also be able to discover any internal or unseen complications of your injuries.
In addition, early examination by a medical professional will make it easier to prove that you suffered these injuries as a direct result of the fall. If you wait for a few days to see if your injury heals by itself, it can be easier for the property owner to claim that they are not responsible for your accident.
If you can, you should also gather witness information and take photographs of where the fall took place, or ask the person you’re with to do so on your behalf. Eyewitnesses can provide valuable information for your case, and having photos of the area and what caused the slip and fall accident makes it easy to collect documentation.
Unless you need to be immediately rushed to the hospital, it’s a good idea to get this information before you leave the scene of the accident. Depending on some injuries, you may need to stay in hospital or have to rest at home for some time.
If you have any hospital bills or paperwork as a result of your examination, make sure to save them in a safe place. It’s helpful to keep these documents in the same place as photographs and any eyewitness details you collected earlier.
At this point, you might start getting insurance companies calling you in the hope that you’ll settle your claim before you speak to an attorney. Avoid speaking to them as much as possible until you have more legal information.
Make an appointment with a personal injury attorney as soon as you’re able. If you’re on bed rest, in the hospital, or otherwise unable to leave the house, many attorneys offer video call appointments so you can start building your case. Make sure to give them all of the documents you have while retaining copies for your own records.
Once you’ve hired a slip and fall attorney, they will undertake an investigation for you to gather evidence, determine liability, and start building a case so you can get the compensation and financial support you need to live with any lasting injuries.