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A Life-altering Trip (and Fall)

Offered by Clancy & Diaz, LLP

Common slip and fall injuries are more serious than many realize

People slip, trip, and fall every day without it being a major incident, but that's not always the case.

In an instant, slipping in a puddle of water at a market, tripping on a rug at an office park, or falling while shopping in a plaza can change the course of a person’s life.

Falls often cause serious damage. Resulting injuries can include fractured bones, back pain, brain damage, hip displacement, and knee injuries, among other serious conditions. It is important for people who fall to see a doctor— even if they feel “fine.” Serious injuries are not always immediately detectable to victims, but a delay in treatment could lead to permanent health problems.

When bad falls happen outside of the home, the property owner is often liable for the victim’s injuries and other losses.

Property owners and operators are supposed to make sure the areas where they allow visitors are safe and any trip hazards or other injury risks are well-marked or fixed.

Places that owe you a duty of care include:

  • Restaurants
  • Retail shops
  • Cultural centers
  • Neighbors’ residencies
  • Event venues
  • Office buildings
  • Certain tours
  • Recreational facilities
  • Hotels
  • Apartment complexes

Common fall-related injuries

There are many kinds of substantial injuries a person can sustain in a fall accident. Some of the more common ones are

Broken bones (fractures) - This is a common outcome for fall accidents. In the legs, breaks and fractures can occur in the tibia and fibula, which are located below the knee. In the arms, the most vulnerable bones are the ulna and radius, which are in your forearm. Delicate wrist and ankle bones may also be damaged in a fall.

Head injuries - Outside of a fatality, the most dangerous outcome of a fall is usually a head injury. Falls can cause numerous types of damages to the skull and brain. Falls can result in concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and loss of brain function. Brain contusions are a common TBI and, like concussions, may be temporary or have long-lasting effects.

Twists, strains, sprains - These types of pains happen when the tissue bands that connect the bones in your ankles and wrists get over-stretched, twisted, and/or torn.

General persistent pain - Just about every injury includes some amount of pain, but falls can produce long-lasting and debilitating soreness. This type of ongoing ache frequently appears in the shoulders, back, and neck.

Hip injury - People who are age 65 or older are at a higher risk for sustaining hip fractures in a fall. More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling, according to research.

Knee injury - This type of damage happens when a great force is exerted on the knee joint causing bones and ligaments to move in unnatural ways. These injuries are often brought on by sudden changes in direction and direct blows.

Property owner and operator liability

When a person is injured outside of their home, a property owner may be responsible for their medical bills and other damages — if they acted negligently. Standards for negligence vary by state, but, in general, a victim seeking compensation must prove that the property owner or operator:

  • Directly caused the hazard that led to injury, or
  • Knew about the risks and did not fix the problem, warn visitors of the danger, or block off the dangerous environment, or
  • Should have known about the risk but failed to address it.

A property owner acts negligently when they fail to live up to a state’s duty of care standards. Again, states vary in determining legal standards of care.

Some states set standards for duty of care due to various types of property visitors — invitees, licensees, or trespassers.

Other states, including California, use the “reasonable care” standard. This means that a property owner owes everyone on their property a duty of reasonable care, though how that duty actually plays out depends on the circumstances.

Full recovery costs

When a property owner is found to have acted negligently and caused injury, a substantial payout is often due to the victim. The settlement or verdict for a slip and fall accident claim is supposed to help the victim make a full recovery. Accident victims can often claim compensation for damages that include:

  • Accident-related medical bills — past, present, and future
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Lost contributions to things like retirement and education funds
  • Associated treatment costs like travel and hotel stays
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability equipment
  • Reduced body or brain function

When to talk to a lawyer

There is no such thing as a minor slip and fall if the accident causes injury — especially since those injuries are likely to be severe.

Medical bills for treatment of common injuries like a broken leg bone, bruised ribs, head injuries, and ankle sprains add up quickly. It is important that accident victims do not get stuck paying for expensive treatments.

If you or a loved one was injured in a slip and fall accident, it is a good idea to consult a personal injury lawyer in your state. Most slip and fall lawyers offer free case evaluations to accident victims and their families.

Learn more about how the law applies specifically to your case today and get in touch with a personal injury lawyer in your state now.

Clancy & Diaz, LLP is a personal injury law firm in Walnut Creek, Antioch, and the California Bay Area.

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Founded in 2007, Clancy & Diaz, LLP is a personal injury law firm with offices in Walnut Creek and Antioch, CA. Attorney Pete Clancy is a highly regarded trial attorney who has wo...