In the United States, slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries, accounting for more than 10 million injuries every year.
Slip and Fall Accidents
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of injuries for all age groups. In 2015, slip and falls sent 9.3 million Americans to hospital emergency rooms, and in 2018 that number jumped to over 10 million.
Approximately 70 percent of slip and fall accidents happen to people under 65 and result in nonfatal injuries. However, seniors over the age of 65 are more likely to suffer more serious injuries, even fatal injuries, from a fall. While people over 65 represent only 30 percent of fall injury victims, they represent 69 percent of hospitalizations and 82 percent of fatalities caused by falls. Elderly adults suffer more serious injuries because of low bone mass, brittle bones, and thinner skin, so injuries usually take longer to heal and often require long-term medical treatment, physical therapy, and the use of walking aids like crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs.
According to CDC reports, one in four adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall, but only half of them will be reported. Each year, over three million senior citizens are treated for falls in emergency rooms across the country. Data shows that 95 percent of hip fractures in elderly adults are caused by slip and falls. Reports from the National Safety Council show that slip and falls are one of the main causes of injury-related deaths for people over 65, and the leading cause of injury-related deaths for people over 85.
Common Symptoms and Injuries
Slip and fall accidents are very common, but symptoms and injuries vary greatly from one person to another depending on health, age, and severity of injuries. Bones, muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues can be injured in slip and falls. People with osteoporosis commonly suffer fractures to the hip, spine, wrists, and hands. Common locations for osteoporosis-related fractures are the spine, hip, and wrists. These fractures, known as “fragility fractures,” affect more than 400,000 people each year. Other common symptoms and injuries include:
Cuts and Bruises
Cuts and bruises are minor injury symptoms, but they can hide more serious injuries under the skin that don’t show up for several weeks.
Torn Ligaments and Pulled Muscles
Slip and falls commonly result in stretched tendons, torn ligaments, and pulled muscles due to twisting the body during a fall. While these injuries may seem minor without pain at first, they can turn into painful, debilitating injuries that heal slowly and often require long recovery periods with rest and rehabilitation.
Sprained or Broken Hands, Wrists and Knees
Many slip and falls happen suddenly, so people aren’t prepared for the fall. When people fall forward, they try to brace for impact and prevent injuries to their head and face by letting their hands absorb the fall. This often causes broken fingers, hands, and wrists. Forward falls can often cause fractures and dislocation of the patella, since the knees often hit the ground first.
Fractured Elbows and Broken Arms and Legs
Fractured elbows and broken arms and legs are common emergency room injuries seen by slip and fall attorneys in Henderson. These injuries may also include soft tissue damage to surrounding areas which can result in chronic pain and dysfunctions with the neuromuscular system.
Dislocated Shoulders and Fractured Collarbone
Falling forward can result in a dislocated shoulder or broken collarbone if the shoulder hits the ground first. While a dislocated shoulder is easier to treat than a broken collarbone, they both often cause excruciating pain and require weeks, even months, of rest and rehabilitation.
Bruised or Fractured Tailbone
Falling backward in a slip and fall accident can cause a bruised or fractured tailbone, a very painful injury. Buttock and tailbone injuries make it difficult to sit, stand, walk, and sleep without pain. These injuries commonly require sitting on orthopedic cushions, using walking aids, lots of rest, and long recovery periods.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury is one of the most serious types of injuries that slip and fall attorneys encounter. Falling directly on the back can cause a slipped disc, a chipped vertebra, and nerve damage. If the damage is severe, injuries may result in partial or total paralysis, either temporarily or permanently. Spinal cord injuries always warrant immediate medical attention.
Head Trauma and Brain Injuries
Slip and falls often result in head trauma and traumatic brain injury (TBI), if fall victims hit their head, especially on a hard surface. These injuries often begin with a headache and progress with other symptoms including lethargy, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, vision problems, and more severe headaches.