More than one-third of people over the age of 65 fall every year. Some of the lucky ones can get up without significant injury. However, others suffer painful injuries requiring extensive medical treatment, and some will never fully recover from their fall.
If you are over the age of 65 or love someone who has reached this age, we encourage you to learn more about how falls happen, potential injuries, what to do after a fall, potential compensation for a fall injury, and how an experienced slip and fall injury lawyer can help you.
Why Older People Fall
Senior citizens may suffer vision issues, mobility issues, or medication side effects that make falls more likely. However, if property owners or managers expect older people on their property, then they have a legal responsibility to make things reasonably safe for their elderly customers, friends, or guests.
Regardless of their own physical issues, an older person may slip or trip and fall if they encounter:
- Slippery floors
- Unsecured rugs or torn carpet
- Uneven or cracked pavement, cement, or tiles
- Stairs without adequate handrails or safety treads
- High thresholds
- Snow or ice that isn’t cleared in a reasonable amount of time
- Cluttered walkways
- Insufficient lighting
Where Senior Citizens Commonly Fall
The conditions described above can happen anywhere. Outside of a person’s private home, they may be at risk of falling in a:
- Nursing home
- Doctor’s office
- Home of a friend or relative
- Common area of an apartment building
Falls may also occur on public sidewalks or parks.
Older people are often more likely to suffer serious fall injuries than younger people might suffer in the same type of fall. For example, senior citizens could suffer:
- Hip fractures
- Pelvic fractures
- Broken arms and legs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Joint injuries
- Shoulder injuries
Falls are one of the leading causes of injury-related deaths for people over 65 and the leading cause of death for people 85 and older.
What to Do—And What Not to Do—After a Fall
After a fall, you can protect your physical recovery and legal rights by:
- Remaining still and assessing your injuries before you move. You don’t want to risk further injury by moving yourself if you’re hurt.
- Accepting medical attention. Allow first responders to assess you for your injuries and provide first aid or emergency transport to the hospital.
- Reporting the fall to the property owner or manager. Let them know that you fell, but do not discuss why you fell.
- Taking photos of the fall scene. Once the property owner or manager knows you fell, they may fix the conditions that caused you to fall. Accordingly, you should take pictures of the area where you fell before you leave the area.
- Getting the names and contact information of witnesses. Eyewitnesses may provide critical information in your fall accident case, but they may be difficult or impossible to find once you leave the area.
- Following medical advice. It’s essential to attend follow-up medical appointments and follow the recommendations of your medical providers so that you can heal to the extent possible.
It is equally as important to avoid:
- Talking to insurers. The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your injury. Accordingly, you should inform your insurer that you are represented by an attorney and let your lawyer talk to the insurer on your behalf.
- Sending information to insurers. Do not share your medical records or anything else with the insurance company without speaking to a lawyer.
- Accepting a settlement before talking to an attorney. Once you accept a settlement, you will not recover additional compensation for your injuries. Accordingly, you need to make sure the settlement is fair before agreeing to it.
- Posting on social media. Anything you post on social media about the fall, your injuries, or your daily activities could be used against you.
- Acting inconsistently with your stated injuries. The insurance company may be watching. Accordingly, you always want to be truthful about your injuries and act consistently with your injuries.
- Failing to contact an attorney. An experienced lawyer will answer all of your questions and make sure your rights are protected.
The steps above may seem overwhelming. However, a slip and fall attorney can guide you every step of the way so that you are never wondering whether or not you are doing the right thing.
Compensation for Fall Injuries
Before you decide whether to take legal action for your fall injury, you need to know why you are pursuing a case. A lawsuit or insurance settlement won’t undo your pain or shorten your recovery, but it could compensate you for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. All of your healthcare costs, including ambulance transportation, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctors’ appointments, medications, assistive medical devices, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other expenses, should be part of your recovery.
- Lost income. If you were still working at the time of your fall, you may receive compensation for any wages, bonuses, raises, benefits, or income from self-employment that you could not earn because of your injuries.
- Pain and suffering. Your physical pain and emotional suffering may be your most significant injuries. In addition to your physical pain, you may miss doing the things you enjoy, and you may be fearful of falling again.
- Out-of-pocket costs. You may require household help, transportation, or other assistance that you didn’t need before your fall.
Without legal compensation for these losses, you will be stuck paying the bills and incurring the expenses on your own.
Now Is the Time to Contact a Slip and Fall Attorney
Don’t spend another day wondering if you are doing the right things after your slip and fall injury. Instead, contact our experienced slip and fall attorneys for a free, no-obligation consultation. We would be happy to meet with you in any of our 11 Midwest personal injury law offices, your home or hospital room, or by phone or video conference. During our meeting, we can discuss our extensive experience, why insurers know we mean business, how we may be able to help you, and our Win or It’s Free Guarantee!