When you slip and fall, what injuries can you experience? Some are minor. Some serious. Learn what injuries can happen and what treatment you may need.
“Falls are [the] leading cause of injury and death in older Americans” says the title of a 2016 CDC press release.
In this case,”older,” refers to adults age 65 and over.
Sadly, it happens. Not always on the private property of a negligent property owner. But slip and fall accidents do happen. And they happen to people of all ages.
For adults, what are the most common injuries and treatments?
Take a look at the list below:
Injuries that result in broken bones range from fractures to severe breaks that take numerous surgeries to repair. Fractures, for some people, are not noticeable until imaging reveals them . Imaging is usually ordered when pain persists.
In some cases, the tissue surrounding your broken bone also gets damaged, which could require long-term therapy to repair. Of course, the most severe injuries will commonly happen to older adults. But that doesn’t mean they’re limited exclusively to them.
If you suspect a broken bone in a fall, go to the emergency room. The first hours following a broken bone have a substantial impact on the course of your recovery.
Head injuries are always a medical emergency. You should immediately go to an emergency room if you suspect a head injury – especially if you experience symptoms such as swelling, loss of consciousness, or bleeding.
A concussion is an example of a closed head injury. Even a concussion is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury. Most of the time concussion symptoms resolve fairly quickly. You should know, however, that 15% of people with a mild TBI have symptoms that last one year or more. More traumatic brain injuries can permanently alter your ability to function. Some serious head injuries have just barely noticeable symptoms at first, only becoming obvious in the weeks ahead.
To treat a traumatic brain injury, you may need surgery, long-term rehabilitation, or even permanent personal care. It depends on the type and severity of brain injury you experience.
Mayo Clinic has a more detailed article on types of brain injuries and treatments for them.
Spinal cord injuries are serious and can often be life-threatening. These injuries require immediate medical attention, and most likely, ongoing treatment as well.
You might think head injuries would be the most costly and complex to treat. But, spinal cord injuries on average routinely run up to a million dollars or more to treat in the first year – and $100,000+ in each subsequent year!
An injury to your upper spinal cord can lead to quadriplegia, or the loss of use of all your limbs. And an injury to your lower spinal cord can lead to paraplegia, or paralysis of your legs.
Depending on the spinal cord injury you experience, you may need surgery, a ventilator, long-term rehab, mental health counseling, in-home personal care, personal medical equipment, and frequent use of various medications.
Milder spinal cord injuries you can experience include partial loss of function in your hips or legs, loss of bladder and bowel control, loss of fertility (especially in men), leg and lower back pain, and loss of feeling around your groin and buttocks.
These injuries routinely don’t become obvious until day or weeks after you fall. That’s why it’s important to go to your doctor immediately after your fall, and at least mention that you fell. Because, when you have to prove your claim, it’s important to show you acted quickly following your accident. Otherwise, claims adjusters, judges, and juries could question the delay in treatment.
A soft tissue injury can be as simple as a minor ankle or wrist sprain. These injuries typically require rest, pain medication, and physical therapy / rehabilitation.
- Cuts and Bruises
Though these types of injuries may look gruesome, they’re typically not serious in and of themselves. For example, you have a deep gash in your head and blood streams down your face.
It looks bad. But it’s not going to involve serious long-term recovery. You may need some stiches (and maybe not), an ice-pack, and an over-the-counter painkiller, but that’s probably it.
The greater concern with cuts and bruises is that they can indicate more serious injuries. You could have a broken bone or serious concussion, which is of much greater concern. Also, some scars do not heal in which case you would be entitled to damages for permanent disfigurement.
- Joint Dislocations
For slip-and-fall victims, the most common dislocation happens in their shoulder as they attempt to break their fall. Joint dislocations are extremely painful, and they can cause permanent damage to the structure of your joint. And if you like to exercise or work a physically intensive job, your chance of subsequent dislocations increases.
Treatment for dislocations is generally relatively simple. Your doctor will use a sedative to numb the pain and help the muscles near your joint relax so it can be re-positioned into the correct place. You’ll need to rest and use ice for a few days to allow the joint to heal.
You may need to wear a sling, splint, or cast for a few weeks to allow for full healing. You may also get a prescription pain reliever to help with your recovery.
If your nerves or blood vessels experience damage, or if your doctor can’t get your joint back into place, you may need surgery. If you’ve already dislocated this joint, you may need reconstructive surgery.
And you may need a physical rehab program as well.
When you experience any injury from a slip-and-fall, at least see a doctor and tell him about the situation ASAP. This protects your health, and the credibility of your case.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.