At some point, everyone slips and falls. At best, it’s an embarrassing incident that results in bruised pride and maybe a bump or two. At worst, a slip and fall accident leaves an individual with serious injuries.
Unfortunately, slips and falls are far too common. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) reports some shocking statistics about falls:
- Falls are the leading cause of accidental injury in the U.S.
- 20.8 percent of emergency room visits involve falls
- Slip and fall injuries cost Americans an estimated $13-14 million every year
- Half of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by falls
- Unsafe floors and flooring materials cause more than 2 million falls annually
Falls may be a top cause of injury and death, but many falls are also preventable. Proper flooring and flooring materials can reduce the number of falls and fall-related injuries. Slip-resistant flooring, rugs, and properly maintained floors are critical when it comes to lowering the risk of slips and falls. In some cases, businesses, workplaces, and other entities are legally required to have slip-resistant flooring.
Where Do Falls Happen?
Falls can happen anywhere, but some locations are more hazardous than others. The following are some common locations where falls happen frequently. In many of these locations, a business or building owner is required to install or maintain slip-resistant flooring.
Hospitals – Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities pose many fall hazards, including body fluids and cleaning materials. Furthermore, employees are often overworked and rushed, causing them to move quickly from patient to patient. When floors are slippery or poorly maintained, workers can suffer falls resulting in serious injuries. Additionally, patients may fall when floors are slick from spills and other hazardous conditions.
Grocery stores – Supermarkets and convenience stores can be extremely hazardous. A spilled liquid can go unnoticed for long periods of time, exposing customers and workers to a possible fall. In the winter months and during rainy weather, entrances and exits can become covered with slush, moisture, ice, and snow. Narrow and cluttered aisles can force a customer to step over merchandise or make awkward maneuvers to reach an item, causing a fall that could have been prevented by a clear, well-maintained area.
Workplaces – Whether you work in a factory, doctor’s office, shopping mall, or school, many commercial and public buildings have industrial flooring that can easily become slippery if something is spilled or the floor is not properly cleaned and maintained.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Falls result in a wide range of injuries, ranging from mild and short-term to serious and permanent. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 37.3 million falls each year are serious enough to require medical treatment. According to the WHO, nearly 500,000 people die from falls each year around the globe.
Injuries caused by falls include:
- Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries
- ip fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Hand and wrist injuries
- Back and shoulder injuries
- Knee and ankle injuries
What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident
After a slip and fall, your health and safety should be your primary concerns. After you have obtained necessary medical treatment, here are some considerations to keep in mind:
Obtain the accident report – Many businesses and workplaces are required to prepare an accident or incident report. Get a copy of any reports or paperwork created in connection with your accident.
Take photos – There is a reason for the saying: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photographic evidence can be compelling proof of your injuries and the conditions at the time of your accident. Take photos of the scene, including any obvious hazards or poor conditions. Also take photos of your injuries over the course of several days, as bruises can darken over time.
Document your injuries – Work with your doctor to document your diagnosis, your symptoms, and your recovery. Make sure you attend all doctors’ appointments and follow up with your physician whenever necessary.
Contact a personal injury lawyer – It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your slip and fall accident. Your lawyer can help you explore your options and make important decisions about your case. Your lawyer can also determine whether the person or entity responsible had an obligation to use slip-resistant flooring.
Despite your best intentions, and most careful steps, slip and fall accidents do happen. Take care to make sure you are protected, and if you think your injuries may be due to someone else’s negligence, make sure your rights are protected too!