Slip-and-fall cases result in a significant number of injuries each year. Although the term “slip” is used, the phrase “slip and fall” pertains to any case in which a person falls on another’s property, whether or not he or she actually slips. Thus, a common slip-and-fall case occurs when a person trips over an uneven floor or a step because of poor lighting. A true “slip” is likely to occur because of a wet or slick floor.
The most common injuries in a slip-and-fall case are head trauma, broken or sprained ankles, and broken or sprained arms, wrists or hands.
Of these, head trauma is the most severe, and any head injury should be examined by a doctor immediately. Not doing so could have dire consequences for the injured individual, especially in the case of a closed-head wound, in which little or no outer physical evidence of trauma exists. A doctor most likely will recommend a diagnostic imaging test such as an MRI or CT scan. The biggest concern with a closed-head wound is pressure building inside the skull, which can be fatal if not alleviated. Lessening the pressure usually requires surgery.
Head injuries that are less severe often can be treated at home by applying ice to the injury. Over-the-counter medication can help with the pain.
Symptoms of head trauma vary. Symptoms of mild head injuries include a brief loss of consciousness, headaches, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms of more serious head injuries include a prolonged loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech and seizures. Because of the severity of such an injury, these symptoms could become permanent.
Broken bones and sprains are the other common injuries associated with slip-and-fall cases. Most of these injuries take at least a few weeks to heal. For both broken bones and sprains, the best treatment is to ice the injury and elevate it to reduce swelling. Additionally, immobilizing the area is key to recovery. In the worst injuries, surgery is required. Many times, a doctor will recommend physical therapy to help the patient regain the full use of the injured area.
These cases are a subset of premises liability law, which states that the owner or possessor of a property may be liable for dangerous conditions that exist on the property.