Slip and fall accidents can happen nearly anywhere. Slips, trips, and falls are common causes of injuries in retail stores and many other places. According to the National Floor Safety Council (NFSI), over 8 million, or just over 20 percent of hospital emergency room admissions, are due to falls. Slip and falls send more than 1 million people to the emergency department every year, which amounts to 12 percent of all falls. It’s also worth noting that slips and falls aren’t a primary cause of fatal occupational injuries, but they do represent the primary cause of lost days from work.
These accidents can cause severe injuries and sometimes even death. In many situations, they aren’t just accidents; they are the result of another person or party’s negligence. If you or someone you love was injured, contact Bert McDowell Injury Law today to schedule a private consultation with an experienced Bridgeport slip and fall attorney. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at our firm will fight tirelessly to prove another party’s misconduct and obtain the compensation you deserve.
What Causes Slips and Falls?
Many different factors and circumstances can contribute to a slip and fall incident. Whatever causes them, most victims are caught by surprise—one minute they were walking and were fine, and the next, they are lying on the ground or floor in pain.
Floor Conditions and Flooring Materials
Floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year. Some flooring materials are simply slicker than others or more hazardous for another reason. Other floors aren’t maintained properly and wind up in poor condition. Carpet that is coming loose, torn, or otherwise damaged, broken or missing tiles, and other damage to floors can make them a prime falling hazard.
Many businesses have entry rugs that are meant to help soak up and moisture that comes in from the outside, such as snow from customers’ shoes that melt. While these are helpful in preventing accidents due to a wet floor, they can also increase the risk of a fall if they are too damp or become bunched or rolled up.
Clutter and Cords
Businesses also need to ensure that their walkways, aisles, and hallways are free of boxes and other clutter to prevent falls. Electric or extension cords should be secured to the floor by tape or ideally plugged in closer to whatever they are powering.
Floors inside a grocery store, mall, medical office building, or any other place where people frequent can become wet. Sometimes it’s from the rain, snow, or ice outside, and other times it’s from a spill. Business owners have a duty to ensure that they clean up messes on the floor as soon as they become aware of them. Suppose a patron informs them of the problem or an employee walks by and ignores it. In that case, they could be held liable for the injuries that someone sustains as a result. The same is true for other substances that could make the floor slick, such as floor wax, grapes, other produce, or other foods.
Sidewalk and Parking Lot Conditions
Sidewalks and parking lots need to be maintained. If they aren’t, they can crumble, create potholes, and otherwise create falling hazards.
Bridgeport is no stranger to snow, ice, and other wintry conditions. It is the property owner’s duty to ensure that their parking lots and sidewalks are cleared, shoveled, and treated to prevent ice build-up. They need to be aware of the forecast as well as the current weather conditions, anticipating what they will need to do.
If they don’t take this duty seriously and someone slips and falls, a proactive slip and fall attorney in Bridgeport will hold them liable for their actions. They may need to hire a company to take care of this task for them, but they need to ensure that it gets done. Even if the company doesn’t show up when it should, the property owner is still responsible for clearing their sidewalks and parking lots to make them safer for their patrons.
Types of Slip and Fall Injuries
People who fall can present with several different injuries, some more serious than others. Many of these injuries cause a significant amount of pain and require several days, if not months, off of work during the recovery period.
Bruising, Cuts, and Gashes
While these injuries are typically minor, some may require stitches depending on the severity and location. Some cuts and gashes may need antibiotics to prevent infection or even plastic surgery to help them heal correctly.
Fractures occur in 5 percent of all people who fall. Arms, wrists, ankles, hips, hands, and the tailbone or the most commonly broken bones when a fall occurs. Some are severe enough that they require surgery or even physical therapy to have the best chances at normal function.
Those that twist when they fall or fall directly onto their knees are more likely to sustain a knee injury. Knee injuries include hyperextension, ligament and tendon damage, meniscus or cartilage injuries, and kneecap dislocations.
Any type of fall can cause the victim to hit their head on the floor or ground, or something as they fall, such as a shelf or railing. As such, they can suffer various head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Some fall victims end up dislocating their shoulders, hips, or other joints in a fall. Often, these require a doctor or a surgeon to either manually fix them or perform surgery.
Discs are filled with a jelly-like substance to provide cushioning between the vertebrae in the back and the neck. When a disc herniates, it is torn or bulging, putting abnormal pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves branch out from the spine. Forceful falls or those that involve twists frequently cause herniated discs. These injuries may require surgery.
Sprains or Strains
A sprain occurs when the ligaments or the tissue that holds bones together are overstretched or torn. A strain is the tearing or overstretching of muscles and tendons. Either injury can cause pain and problems with mobility. They can sometimes take longer to heal than a fracture.
At the end of the spine is a triangular-shaped bone, commonly referred to as the tailbone. If someone falls backward, landing on their tailbone, it can cause it to bruise significantly or even break. These injuries lead to soreness in that area and cause some individuals not to be able to sit comfortably. Although tailbone injuries don’t usually require surgery, they do take some time to heal.
Whiplash and Other Neck Injuries
Some trips or falls are violent enough that they can cause whiplash injuries like the ones suffered by car accident victims. With whiplash, the muscles, ligaments, joints, discs, nerve roots can become damaged. Like sprains and strains, they can take quite some time to heal and may require a neck brace to help immobilize the neck during the healing process. It should be noted that these types of neck injuries may not reveal symptoms right away. Sometimes it can be days after a fall until victims start to notice a problem.
The shoulder is a common area of injury in falls. Depending on how a person falls, the shoulder can take the brunt of the force created by the fall. Falling straight down or to the side increases the risk of shoulder injuries. The shoulder can separate or sprain or become dislocated. Rotator cuff injuries are the most frequent type of shoulder injury in a fall. They can cause pain or pressure while using the arm, problems sleeping or laying on the impacted side, and an inability to raise that arm. Treatment may include medications for pain and even physical therapy. In rare cases, surgery might be required.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
The spinal cord is the main pathway of nerves spanning from the brain down through the protective canal formed by the vertebrae. Nerves branch off from the spinal cord to innervate the rest of the body. In the U.S., more than 30 percent of all spinal cord injuries are linked to falls. These injuries can happen in either the neck or the back and are often diagnosed in conjunction with a neck dislocation or fracture.
Unfortunately, paralysis below the area where the spinal cord was compromised is frequent, and treatment may include surgery. Sometimes spinal cord injury victims require a permanent respirator that breaths for them. A spinal cord injury has the potential to create an extreme disability for the rest of the victim’s life.
Get Medical Care as Soon as Possible
Whatever injuries or symptoms you may or may not have, it’s imperative to seek the care of a qualified physician after a slip and fall. Like whiplash, some other injuries may not be evident right after your fall. For instance, internal bleeding and other internal injuries may not present with specific symptoms immediately. Still, it’s crucial to get medical care because these kinds of injuries could be life-threatening. If an ambulance is called and the paramedics recommend you go to the hospital, do so. Otherwise, go to an urgent care or see your own physician as soon as possible.
When are Businesses Liable for Slips, Trips, or Falls?
Slip and fall incidents can occur in many different settings, such as:
- Bars and nightclubs
- Supermarkets and grocery stores
- Convenience Stores and gas Stations
- Gyms and health clubs
- Recreation centers
- Churches and synagogues
- Parking lots and garages
- Movie theaters
- Walmart Stores
- Retail Stores
- Shopping Malls
- Clothing Stores
- Places of employment
- Real estate open houses
When the businesses’ employees become aware of the wet or slippery floor, they either need to clean it up or fix it within a reasonable period of time or warn others with a sign or blocking off the area. If they fail to take such actions, it’s entirely possible they will be held accountable for any resulting injuries.
However, if someone drops an ice cream cone on the floor and another patron walks in the mess 30 seconds later, the business likely won’t be responsible. They weren’t made aware of what had happened, and they can’t know what is going on in every area of the property at all times. A seasoned trip and fall accident lawyer in Bridgeport could review the circumstances of a specific case to determine if another party is at-fault for a person’s injuries.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall
After you have slipped and fell on someone’s property, there are a few things you should do:
Take Pictures/Video Recordings of the Dangerous Condition
Pictures and video recordings will help your injury case. It is important that you have the image of the specific condition that caused you to fall. This gives greater insight to the insurance company, and even to your lawyer.
Report the Incident (if applicable)
If you fell at a store or some other commercial property, and it is feasible, report the incident to the store’s manager. They should draft an incident report, and you should ask them for a copy.
If Injured, Seek Medical Attention Immediately
If you are hurt, get medical attention. There are times, immediately after a fall down, when you may not feel any pain/discomfort. However, you begin to feel pain the next day or week. As soon as you begin feeling pain, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
When Should You Contact an Attorney after a Slip and Fall?
Once you have received medical care and are medically stable, your next priority should be speaking with a Bridgeport accident attorney. The sooner you obtain legal counsel, the better the outcome of your case. Connecticut has a two-year statute of limitations. This means you have two years from the day your accident occurred to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you fail to file within this legally-imposed deadline, you won’t be able to file at all. With a well-versed lawyer on your side, you can ensure that your case can be filed on time.
Other reasons to contact an attorney right away include:
- Your Bridgeport injury lawyer can deal with the insurance company for you
- They will know what types of evidence to collect and can collect it while it’s still fresh and available
- You can focus on recovering from your injuries while your legal team focus on obtaining justice for you
Reach Out to a Knowledgeable Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
Falls can cause some of the worst injuries suffered by personal injury victims. After a fall, you may face hefty medical expenses and days or even months off of work, not to mention the pain and suffering you endure. You deserve full and fair compensation for all of these damages and likely more. To find out what kind of compensation you are entitled to receive, it’s best to meet with an experienced Bridgeport personal injury attorney as soon as you can.
Call Bert McDowell Injury Law today to receive your complimentary case review. We are available to speak with you anytime, or feel free to reach out to us online.