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Fall Accidents & Injuries: Risks, Safety Tips, & Victims’ Rights

By: Allan M. Siegel

This is the final week of National Safety Month, and because our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is celebrating the month-long observance by doing our share to raise awareness, we wanted to focus in on one of the National Safety Council’s topics: Falls.

Falls, whether they involve slip and trips on a level surface or falls from heights, are among the most common accidents, and while they may not seem like a topic worthy of being highlighted during National Safety Month, the fact is that falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death worldwide. In fact, fall statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make it clear just how significant a safety issue they are:

  • Each year, falls account for nearly 650,000 fatalities worldwide, making falls the second-leading cause of accidental death, after only traffic accidents.
  • In the U.S., falls account for millions of injuries each year worldwide, nearly 40 million of which are serious enough to require medical attention.
  • One out of every 5 falls in the U.S. causes a serious injury, such as a broken bone or fracture.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • Adults ages 65 and older face the greatest risks of falls, and account for over 3 million ER visits annually.

Fall-Related Accidents & Injuries

Falls can happen in a variety of ways, whether they be accidental, the result of a victim’s own fault, or caused by the negligent acts of others. Common fall accidents may involve:

  • Slip, trip, and fall accidents, including falls caused by dangerous hazards or conditions.
  • Falls from heights
  • Workplace accidents, especially when work is performed from heights or with the use of ladders or scaffolding
  • Falls in nursing homes or assisted living facilities
  • Recreational or sport-related falls

While these are only a few examples of fall accidents, all have the potential to result in injuries, including:

  • Broken bones and fractures, including fractures of the wrists, arm, ankle, or hip
  • Head injuries, including fractures, lacerations, and traumatic brain injuries
  • Sprains and soft-tissue injuries
  • Musculoskeletal injuries, including injuries to the spine

Safety Tips & Fall Prevention

As the National Safety Council makes clear, fall safety means fall prevention. Here are a few ways to prevent falls:

  • Around the Home – Falls at home account for numerous injuries, which is why it becomes important to take preventative measures that can protect you and your loved ones, especially if there are older adults or young children in the home. For one, clean up clutter and make it a point to regularly check for any debris, cords, uneven surfaces, or other tripping hazards around the house. For those with older adults who face greater fall risks, consider “fall-proofing” your home by installing handrails or grab bars at key locations, such as alongside steps or in bathrooms and bathtubs, and getting your loved one any personal assistive device they may need, such as a cane or walker. Supervision is also vital to reducing risks of fall injuries in the home, especially with younger children, as are nonslip surfaces, proper footwear, and adequate lighting.
  • Property Owners – Whether you own a business or a home, you have obligations to ensure the safety of visitors and guests. This is especially true when it comes to slip, trip, and fall accidents, as failing to take measures and address potential hazards could mean that you’ll be on the hook for victims’ damages if they pursue premises liability claims. Ensuring safety on your property means conducting an assessment of potential dangers, such as open holes, exposed wiring, uneven flooring, and more. You should also take steps to ensure any hazards that do arise – from wet and slippery surfaces to broken lights and debris – are immediately addressed so as not to place others in danger.
  • Working From Heights – Whether you’re working around the house or one the job, fall prevention should always be a priority. This means following directions when using any step-stools, ladders, and scaffolding, and ensuring you use proper protocol when working from heights (i.e. using restraint systems when necessary, working with a partner, etc.). Falls from heights pose greater risks of injuries, including serious injuries like TBI. Protect yourself and others by making safety a priority anytime you need to handle tasks or job juties from an elevated surface.
  • Consider Your Own Safety – Preventing fall accidents by assessing your surroundings and addressing potential hazards is only part of an effective safety plan. Because falls can also result from our own actions and abilities, it becomes important to discuss fall prevention with a doctor, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications that would increase your fall risks. Staying active and wearing sensible shoes can also help you prevent falling and injuring yourself.

Fall Accidents & Personal Injury Claims

When it comes to preventable falls, injured victims may have the right to pursue a personal injury case if another’s negligence led to their accidents and injuries. For example, our firm is available to help victims who suffer fall-related injuries involving:

  • Premises liability and negligent property owners
  • Wet and slippery surfaces property owners knew about, but failed to address
  • No lighting or insufficient lighting, leading to falls caused by victims not being able to adequately see their surroundings
  • Falls from heights, including falls involving defective and unsafe equipment
  • Falls in schools, day care centers, and other programs that care for children
  • Falls involving sports and recreational activities that could have been prevented
  • Falls in nursing homes or assisted living facilities
  • Falls near and around pools caused by unsafe conditions

Understanding whether or not you have a potential case involving a fall depends on the unique facts and circumstances involved, which is why our Washington, DC personal injury lawyers are available to speak with potential clients throughout the DC Metro area. If you have questions about your rights and the personal injury process, call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.