Slips and falls cause a large percentage of serious injuries to Americans of all ages. Statistics compiled by the National Floor Safety Institute tell the grim story:
- Falls account for more than 8 million (21.3 percent) hospital emergency room visits, representing the leading cause of visits.
- Slips account for more than 1 million hospital visits, or 12 percent of those related to falls.
- Fractures are the most serious consequences of falls, affecting 5 percent of all people who fall.
- Of all fractures from falls, hip fractures are the most serious and lead to the greatest health problems and number of deaths.
- During 2002, 22 percent of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Temporarily or permanently disabling injuries from falls at work cost an average of $250,000-$300,000 per year when totaling the amounts paid by the worker, the employer and insurance or workers’ compensation.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005, more than 15,000 people who were older than 65 years of age died as a result of a fall.
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Who Is at Risk for a Slip or Fall
The majority of slips and falls occur in homes, but residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are particularly prone to suffering injuries and dying from falls. Also, slips and falls can occur anywhere. The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that in 2016 that these accidents happened in all of the following types of workplaces:
- Construction—24,700 injuries, 384 deaths
- Manufacturing—22,040 injuries, 49 deaths
- Wholesale trade—10,250 injuries, 21 deaths
- Retail trade—29,830 injuries, 29 deaths
- Transportation and Warehousing—23,490 injuries, 46 deaths
- Professional and business services—22,090 injuries, 111 deaths
- Education and health services—43,660 injuries, 18 deaths
- Government—63,350 injuries, 44 deaths
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Slip and Fall Injury
The NSC also noted that “falls are 100 percent preventable.” Extensive building codes, safety policies and best practices exist to protect people from falling from balconies, decks, windows and walkways; tripping on stairs; slipping on wet and ice-covered surfaces; and losing their footing on loose floor coverings. In hospitals and other health care settings, rules are in place to ensure patients do not fall out of bed, slip in the shower or fall when moving around the facility.
Violating regulations and standard procedures creates legal liability for builders, property owners and business operators whose negligence creates a situation that leads to a slip and fall injury. For instance, our Virginia Beach-based personal injury law firm has successfully represented a man who broke his hip after slipping on poorly installed flagstones at a vacation home and a hospital worker who shattered an ankle after tripping on an out-of-code stairway.
Those case went forward on a legal theory called premises liability. This ancient legal principle dictates that homeowners and businesses have enforceable legal duties to protect visitors and customers from harm. Allowing an unsafe condition to persist and inflict injuries makes the owner or occupant responsible for causing the harm.
Victims of slip and fall injuries resulting from someone else’s negligence have undeniable rights to file insurance claims or pursue civil lawsuits for the payment of medical bills and the replacement of lost wages and future earnings. Virginia also allows personal injury victims to ask for compensation for physical pain and emotional distress.