Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common causes of injuries in Canada. These injuries are usually non-fatal. They can range from a minor inconvenience to a disruption of your everyday life.
Slip and fall injuries are more common among seniors than other age groups. According to data, 4 out of every 5 visits to the hospital for injuries owed their origin to slip and fall. Every year, nearly 8900 seniors are admitted to hospitals for slip and fall injuries.
Many incidents of slip and fall go unreported because people feel that they were clumsy and their injury is actually their fault. Sometimes, if the injury is minor, people do not want to go to the trouble of taking legal action. However,though some injuries may seem insignificant but they can have life-long repercussions. Besides, unless the slip and fall accident is reported and the negligent person is brought to book, the problem will continue. Someone else might fall and hurt themselves severely. In the worst-case scenario, the accident for them might be fatal. So it is our duty to bring the slip and fall accident to the notice of the authority.
What is a slip and fall accident?
Slip and fall accident is a legal term that refers to an injury you suffered on someone’s premise. It could be because of-
- A wet floor
- Uneven flooring
- Ice that hasn’t been cleared away
- A dent or depression on the pavement
- An obstruction in your way
- An unlit passage
- A crooked staircase
- Unanchored carpets or rugs
- Oil spill on the floor
- Debris or a protruding object on the walkway
- Absence of a sign that warns that the floor is wet or oily or uneven
Basically, any reason that makes you lose your balance causes a slip and fall accident. In most cases, it is the negligence or irresponsibility of the property owner that is behind such an accident.
What are some typical slip and fall injuries?
When you fall awkwardly, you could hurt any part of your body. If you are lucky, you will get off with a few minor injuries that will disappear in a couple of weeks. However, slip and fall injuries can also be grievous.
- Cuts and bruises
Cuts and bruises are the commonest slip and fall injury. Even if you have sustained more serious injuries, you are sure to get a few cuts and bruises too. You may scrape your arms, elbows, legs or knees when you fall that will result in a few minor to ugly cuts. Bruises or contusions result from the trauma of your body hitting a hard surface. Blood vessels at the site burst and the blood that escapes gets trapped beneath your skin. Though they may seem harmless, get your cuts and bruises checked by a doctor. Cuts can lead to infections and bruises sometimes are an indicator of trauma to underlying muscles or organs. Besides, you will need the medical documents if you decide to seek compensation for the slip and fall accident.
- Pulled muscles or torn ligaments
When we fall, we instinctively brace ourselves. That means our muscles and ligaments tense up to dull the blow of the injury that is about to be inflicted. We sometimes extend our arms to catch ourselves or prevent injury to our brain. Sometimes we twist our bodies to avoid hurting the more delicate parts of our body and allow our limbs to take the worst of the fall. However, unfortunately, twisting, tensing and a blunt force trauma caused by the impact can severely hurt your muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Pulled muscles take weeks to heal. Tendons and ligaments take even longer because they receive less blood than your muscles. And the pain can be debilitating. If you rupture your ligament, you may even need surgery to correct it.
- Sprained or broken ankles, wrists, fingers and toes
Both spraining and fracturing your ankles or wrists are very common slip and fall injuries. When you fall awkwardly, you can twist your ankle at an odd angle that can result in a sprain or even a fracture. And if you tumble forwards, you will use your arms to break the fall and ion the process you could hurt your wrists. In both cases, you are putting unaccustomed pressure on your wrists or ankles that leads to the injury. Similarly, your fingers or toes too can sustain fractures.
- Broken limbs
A hard fall or tumbling down the stairs can cause fracture of your limbs. Even the surrounding muscles and ligaments may be injured. Sometimes people do not realize that they have fractured the large bones of their arms or legs because they can move their wrists and ankles without pain. That is why it is wise to get your arm or leg X-Rayed after a fall.
- Fracture of the collarbones or dislocated shoulder
Though relatively rare, collarbones can fracture if you land or hit your shoulder hard against an unyielding object when you fall. This injury is extremely painful, but thankfully, collarbone fractures heal fast.
The same kind of fall can also cause a shoulder dislocation when the bones of this area become unaligned. Both the injuries require extensive physiotherapy.
- Knee injuries
This is a fearsome injury that may take ages to heal. And sometimes the pain becomeschronic. The severity of your knee injury depends on your weight, age and the type of surface you fell on.You could tear or hurt the muscles or ligaments of the knee. In the worst case, you could fracture or dislocate the patella of the knee, which would require knee reconstructive surgery.
- Tailbone fracture
Falling or landing on your buttocks usually cushions the blow of the fall. But if you land hard enough, you could bruise or even fracture your tailbone. This injury is excruciatingly painful. Sitting, standing, using the washroom and lying on your back become extremely difficult.
- Hip fractures
Slip and fall injuries are the commonest reason for hospitalization of seniors with painful hips. These injuries are more prevalent among them than younger people are. And almost all cases of hip injury caused by a slip and fall accident require active medical intervention and a prolonged stay in the hospital.
- Injuries of the spinal cord
This is a dangerous injury and almost always intensely painful. Landing on your back can chip your vertebra, cause slipped discs. The force of the fall can also cause nerve damage and lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. If you have fallen on your back and your back does not hurt much, do not ignore the accident. Visit your doctor immediately.
- Soft tissue injuries
Soft tissue includes your skin, blood vessels, fibrous tissues, synovial membranes, fats etc. a slip and fall accident can injure your soft tissues. They do not generate any specific symptom. Your whole body will hurt sporadically after the accident and this will continue longer than you would expect. Untreated, a soft tissue injury can cause chronic pain. Since your body learns to use other parts to relax pressure on the soft tissues, it will lead to the rapid wear and tear of those other parts. This leads to further pain and the risk of new injuries.
- Brain injuries
It is quite common to hit your head when you fall. Sometimes it’s a mild bump that triggers a headache that passes soon. But a fall can also cause traumatic brain injury or TBI. The symptoms do not show up right away. TBI is a serious injury that needs extensive medical care. Watch out for these signs and consult your doctor as soon as possible-
- Loss of balance
- Headache that keeps coming back
Prevention of slip and fall accidents
It is everyone’s responsibility to keep their premises clean and free of risks. To make your property slip and fall-proof, you must-
- Regularly inspect your property
- Clean up any spills
- Keep your floors and walkways clean of all litter and dry an
- Nail down or flatten any protruding floorboard or tile
- Fill out and depression or dent
- Install proper handrails along stair-cases
- Make sure that passages and staircases are well-lit
To avoid being a victim of a slip and fall injury, you must-
- Wear footwear with proper grip. Also, your shoes should fit you snugly.
- Make sure that your phone’s flashlight is in order and use that when needed
But it is not possible to guarantee that being cautious can prevent slip and fall accidents. If you have hurt yourself in this kind of accident, you deserve damages for the treatment and therapy that you will need. And we can help you maximize your compensation.