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January 23, 2015

Avoiding Slip and Fall Accidents

Avoiding Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents occur every day. In fact, the National Safety Council (NSC) indicates[1] that nearly 9 million people each year seek treatment in emergency departments around the country because of injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents. While many slip and fall accidents[2] result in little more than embarrassment and perhaps a mild bruise, they have the potential to cause serious injuries that may lead to long-term medical conditions. In severe cases, slip and fall victims may even require intensive medical care or develop disabilities that keep them from doing everyday tasks or living independently.

As a result, it is important for people to take every step possible to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents. This holds true for homeowners, business owners, property managers, government entities, and pedestrians alike. The information below is intended to help people learn more about slip and fall accidents and the steps that we can all take to prevent them. At the bottom of this page are links to various sources used to in the writing this article that lead to additional information regarding slip and fall accidents.

Common Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and falls can cause a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most common include the following:

Broken Bones – Broken bones, or bone fractures, occur when there is break in the continuity of the bone structure. There are many types of broken bones, and the required treatment can range from invasive surgery to simple rest. When a person falls, they can strike the ground with significant force, potentially causing a bone fracture. In some cases, broken bones can result in disfigurement of a body part or unsightly scarring.

Traumatic Brain Injuries – Traumatic brain injuries[3] (TBIs) occur when a bump or jolt to the head results in a disruption of normal brain function. The most common and least severe type of TBI is a concussion, which itself has the potential to cause serious complications. More severe TBIs can result in significant issues such as cognitive problems, issues with communication and speech, emotional problems, and impairment of a person’s motor skills.

Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, involve an injury to a person’s spinal cord. In many cases, trauma to the spinal column results in secondary injury or pressure to the spinal cord. As the spinal cord is responsible for transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and injury to it can result in significant complications. Spinal cord injuries can leave victims with paralysis, muscle weakness, lack of mobility, and issues with skin sensation.

Soft Tissue Injuries – Soft tissue injuries occur when there is damage to a person’s ligaments, muscles, or tendons. Common examples of soft tissue injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, stress injuries, and tendonitis. They have the potential to cause pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of function.

These and other injuries that people can sustain in slip and fall accidents can leave people with significant medical expenses. In addition, victims may be unable to return to work for an extended period of time, if at all.

Slip and Fall Accidents and Older Adults

Slip and Fall AccidentWhile anyone who is able to walk is at some risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident, older adults are particularly at risk. There are many factors that contribute to this increased risk. As people age, their eyesight may not be as good as it once was, their reflexes may slow, they may suffer from hearing loss, and other medical condition could affect their sense of balance. According to the National Floor Safety Institute[4], the incidence of falls increases with each decade of life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports[5] that one in three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, and that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among this age group. Some important statistics involving falls and older adults include:

  • Around 2.5 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries sustained after falling
  • Half of all adults over the age of 65 who are hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the injury
  • More than 3 out of 5 nursing home residents will fall every year
  • Falls account for 40 percent of all nursing home admissions

Because of the serious complications that can result, it is especially important for older adults to take steps to reduce their risk of falling. The National Institute on Aging[6] has more information regarding older adult fall safety here.[7]

Steps that Home and Business Owners can Take to Reduce the Risk of Slip and Fall Accidents

Fortunately, there are certain steps that people can take to reduce their risk of being involved in a slip and fall accident. These steps include the following:

  • Immediately clean up liquid spills
  • Stay away from and clearly mark freshly mopped floors
  • Make sure that all electrical cords are secured and moved away from high-traffic areas
  • Store items that are frequently used in easily reachable places
  • Wear shoes that have good support and slip-resistant soles
  • Arrange furniture in such a way as to provide ample room for walkways
  • Remove all tripping hazards from stairs or walkways
  • Provide adequate lighting
  • Make sure that exterior walkways are free from debris
  • Replace or fix torn carpet
  • Make sure that all stairways have handrails
  • Repair uneven or broken steps
  • Make sure that all rugs have non-slip backing or double sided tape affixing them to the floor
  • Install handrails in bathrooms, particularly for older adults

By taking these steps, people can reduce the risk that they, their loved ones, or their guests will be injured in a slip and fall accident due to a hazardous condition. In the event that you or someone else is involved in a slip and fall accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In many cases, early medical intervention can lead to a much better outcome, particularly for serious injuries.

[1] http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-at-home-falls.aspx
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slip_and_fall
[3] http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/
[4] http://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
[5] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Falls/adultfalls.html
[6] http://www.nia.nih.gov/
[7] http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/topics/falls

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December 11, 2014

What Happens if my Child Slips and Falls at School?

fall at schoolWhen you send you child to school every morning, you should be able to trust that he or she is healthy and safe. School personnel have a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for your child and to provide adequate supervision at all times. Unfortunately, when there are few adults attempting to constantly supervise hundreds of children, accidents are bound to happen. One accident that commonly occurs in and around a school building is a slip and fall accident.

Common injuries in slip and falls

While sometimes slips, trips, and falls will simply cause minor bumps or bruises, other slip and fall victims may suffer injuries that are substantially more serious.[1] These injuries include traumatic brain injuries from hitting their head, spinal injuries if they land on their neck, broken bones, internal bleeding, deep contusions, and more. Many of these injuries will send a child to the emergency room at least, while others may require extensive medical treatment. If the slip and fall accident resulted from negligent actions on the part of the school personnel, you deserve to recover for all of the medical bills and other losses you incurred as a result of the injury.

Causes of school slip and falls

Slip and falls can happen for a wide variety of reasons, some of which stem from negligence and some of which do not. With hundreds of people regularly traveling the same hallways and staircases every day in a school, it is no wonder that slip and fall accident occur on a regular basis. Sometimes, these accidents happen because a child is simply clumsy or lost their balance. Other times, slip and falls may be caused by the following factors:

  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Overly-worn carpet or flooring
  • Cracked pavement
  • Torn carpet
  • Wires that are not properly secured to the walls
  • Objects or debris left in walkways
  • Uneven ground
  • Dangerous stairs or railings

A school has the duty to keep the premises safe for students to use on a regular basis. When a school fails to correct a dangerous condition and a student sustains injuries, the victim should be able to fully recover financially. School cases can be particularly complicated and may involve complex legal issues, however, so you always want to consult with an experienced slip and fall lawyer in Philadelphia as soon as possible for help.[2]

[1] http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Slips-Trips-and-Falls.pdf

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

 

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November 14, 2014

The Accumulation of Snow and Ice can Cause Actionable Slip and Fall Accidents

slip and fallAs any Philadelphia resident who has been through a winter is well aware, northeastern winters often involve severe storms and freezing temperatures. When these conditions exist, snow and ice can accumulate on various surfaces, potentially causing falls that may result in injury. In some cases, individuals who are injured in these accidents can recover for their medical expenses and other damages by bringing a personal injury claim. Because premises liability claims [1] can be extremely complicated and highly contested, it is important for victims to discuss their options with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Often, the assistance of an attorney can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case and can result in much greater recovery than victims would be able to obtain representing themselves.

When is a property owner liable?

Winter storms and the accumulation of snow and ice are a reality of living in the Philadelphia area. As a result, the law does not require As a result, the law does not impose the requirement that property owners remove any accumulation of snow or ice that occurs on their property. Instead, the “Hills and Ridges [2] doctrine requires that property owners prevent accumulations to the extent that there are elevations or ridges that obstruct travel. In addition, the law requires that the property owner knew or should have known about the condition in order to impose legal liability. Finally, it must also be established that accumulation of snow or ice is what caused the victim to fall.

Injuries that people can sustain in a slip and fall accident can be serious

In most cases, a person who is injured in a slip and fall accident suffers little more than a sore bump and perhaps some embarrassment. In other cases, however, a slip and fall accident can result in serious injuries. Some of these include:

These injuries have the potential to result in significant medical expenses, missed work, physical pain, and emotional suffering. Fortunately, an attorney can often help victims recover for these and other losses.

[1] http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premises_liability

[2] http://www.jdsupra.com/documents/11b80304-13d6-41e3-9d16-e19e6a09d6c7.pdf

[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/basics/definition/con-20029302

 

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October 1, 2014

What should I do if I was injured at an amusement park?

Amusement Park AccidentThe Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that approximately 8,800 people visit emergency rooms on an annual basis as the result of injuries sustained on amusement park rides.  Thousands more likely suffer minor injuries but do not seek medical attention.  Amusement park owners have the duty to ensure all rides and attractions are safe for guests, and should never allow patrons to ride inappropriate rides for their size, age, or health conditions.  If an amusement park does not take the necessary measures to keep guests safe, the park owners should be held accountable for their negligent actions. If you have been injured, always seek medical attention and then consult with a Philadelphia personal injury attorney to discuss a possible case.

Amusement park patrons most often suffer whiplash, spinal injuries, bone fractures, soft tissue damage, traumatic brain injuries, stroke, neck injuries or drowning scares on water rides. There are several common causes of injuries at amusement parks, which include:

  • Mechanical failures on rides, such as structural defects, malfunctioning restraints or brakes, or other problems due to lax maintenance of park rides can cause serious injuries and even death.
  • The nature of a ride, such as high G-forces or rapid spinning, can cause injuries such as hemorrhage, brain trauma, loss of consciousness, eye injuries, and more.
  • Employee errors commonly cause injuries.  Errors may include not properly securing passengers, abruptly stopping the ride at a dangerous point, overcrowding rides, or allowing inappropriate passengers to board the ride.
  • Passenger errors, such as failing to follow the operator’s instructions, detaching safety restraints or standing up in the middle of the ride, rocking the car on the track, and more.  Passenger errors or negligence can often cause injury to more people than just the offending rider.
  • Negligent supervision, which most often occurs in children’s areas or insufficient lifeguard supervision over pool areas.
  • Failing to meet federal safety standards for all tides.  The government regulates the safety of amusement parks and, if a park falls below safety standards, it will be found negligent if injury occurs.

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August 29, 2014

Can I Sue after a Slip and Fall Accident in a Post Office?

local post officeData published by the National Safety Council (NSC) indicates that slip and fall accidents are responsible for 8.9 million emergency department visits per year. These incidents can happen almost anywhere and are capable of causing a wide variety of injuries, some of which can result in long-term complications. When slip and fall accidents occur on property owned or maintained by the government, victims may be able to obtain compensation by filing a personal injury claim. It is important to note, however, that legal claims against the government are subject to special legal rules, so it is highly advisable for people injured in slip and falls that occurred on government property to consult with an experienced attorney.

With their often busy environments, slip and fall accidents can easily occur at post offices around the Philadelphia area. As federal property, any legal claim after a post office accident would need to be asserted against the federal government, which is immune from lawsuits unless specifically authorized by law. Fortunately for victims, the Federal Tort Claims Act does exactly that, but the procedure for filing such a claim is significantly different than in other types of claims not involving the federal government. For one, an injured party may not simply go to the courthouse and initiate a claim. Instead, he or she must first file an administrative claim with the post office. If the post office ultimately denies the claim, you may file a lawsuit against the post office, but you must do so within 6 months of the denial of your administrative claim or will lose your right to sue.

There are many types of conditions that may result in a post office slip and fall, some of which may indicate negligence on the part of postal employees. Some the more common include the following:

  • Liquid spills
  • Debris on floors
  • Exposed electrical wiring
  • Failure to warn about a slippery surface
  • Unreasonable accumulations of snow or ice in or around entryways

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