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When a Fall Causes Serious Injuries

A fall might not seem like a big deal to most people, but the statistics tell us otherwise. One out of every five falls results in a serious injury. Falls, slips and trips can occur anywhere – in the workplace, at home, at a shopping mall or on a public sidewalk. When we fall, our chances of falling again in the future are doubled.

By overlooking the potentially devastating consequences of a fall, we could ignore warning signs or fall risks and put others or ourselves in danger of suffering a serious slip and fall. How bad can things get after a fall? Here are a few common injuries:

  • Ninety-five percent of broken hips are the result of falls.
  • Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
  • Falls can also cause shattered ankles and wrists, spinal cord injuries and internal damage, among other injuries.

Why Falls Happen?

  • Workplace falls – These are some of the most serious falls, especially in industries like construction, where falls can occur from great heights.
  • Medication-related falls – Certain types of medications – such as sedatives or certain antidepressants – can cause an increased fall risk. Medical facilities and nursing homes play host to many medication-related falls.
  • Slick floors or surfaces – Wet, snowy or icy floors are some of the most common causes of falls. Black ice is also one of the more notorious of fall-causing conditions because it is difficult to identify.
  • Poorly lit areas – Low levels of visibility make falls more likely, particularly among the elderly and those with poor eyesight.
  • Cluttered walkways – Floors or sidewalks with unnecessary clutter can cause trips and falls. Common examples include boxes, low open drawers and debris.
  • Broken handrails – Handrails or guardrails that assist people on stairs or provide boundaries on elevated floors are key to preventing falls. If they are poorly made or broken, they can present serious fall risks.

The Heavy Costs of Falling

Fall victims face incredible challenges, including pain, anxiety and financial consequences related to their fall. The direct medical costs of falls totals over $30 billion dollars annually in the United States, two-thirds of which comes from hospital costs. Indirect costs can be just as great,  including time off work and diminished work capacity.

When Falls are Caused by Negligence

Falls are often caused by the negligence of others. For example, when a construction company fails to secure safe scaffolding for workers, a nurse or doctor fails to assist medicated patients who fall after standing too quickly, or a business owner fails to notify customers of a slick floor. In each of these scenarios, someone failed to take reasonable care to prevent another person’s fall. Their negligence is costly for the fall victim, and may prompt legal action against the negligent party to recover damages suffered by the victim.

It is in all our best interests to make properties as safe as possible and to identify fall risks before they cause someone else harm. Keep your floors free from clutter and make sure areas are well lit. Be mindful of the safety of others in your workplace. If you know someone is taking medications that cause dizziness, help them to stand and walk. These little things can go a long way in preventing falls.