Slipping, tripping and falling is a common occurrence across the United States, and due to the cold and snowy weather conditions, even more common in Minnesota. A slip and fall or trip and fall accident is defined as an incident where a person is injured after they slip and fall or trip and fall due to slippery conditions or trip hazard on someone else’s property. These types of accidents can happen anywhere, but most often occur in areas where people frequently walk, such as on a walkway or an aisle at a store. They are most frequently caused by wet surfaces, uneven walking surfaces, poor lighting, clutter on the ground, and inadequate signage warning people about potential hazards.
Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents can lead to a variety of injuries, such as sprains, strains, broken bones, dislocations, head trauma and even spinal cord damage. Victims are often left with mounting medical bills and lost wages that can have a profound negative impact on their life.
Here’s everything you need to know about the most common types of injuries in slip and fall accidents.
The Most Common Injuries Associated with Slip and Fall Accidents
The most common injuries the result from slip and fall accidents are as follows:
- Sprains involve the overstretching of ligaments which connect bones together at joints such as ankles and wrists. Symptoms include swelling, bruising and pain around the affected area.
- Strains are similar but involve muscles rather than ligaments and are often caused by sudden movements or lifting heavy objects incorrectly. Signs of a strain include cramping or twitching in the area, as well as tenderness.
- Fractures are breaks in bone structure resulting from high-impact force like falling onto a hard surface or an object striking you with great force during a fall. Fractures typically cause severe pain along with swelling and tenderness near the break site.
- Dislocations occur when two bones become separated at a joint due to extreme force, which causes intense pain along with visible deformity of the joint area itself (i.e., fingers, shoulder, elbow, etc.).
- Head injuries include everything from mild concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If any signs of disorientation, confusion, or unconsciousness are observed after a slip and fall accident, medical help should be sought immediately. Cognitive deficits may occur if TBIs are not treated promptly and correctly. As such, prompt action is key for preventing long-term effects from occurring.
Diagnosing Injuries After a Slip and Fall Accident
The first step in treating a slip and fall injury is accurately diagnosing it, which often includes a physical examination by a doctor and, if necessary, imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans. If warranted, the doctor may want further tests such as an MRI or EMG to determine the nature and extent of the injury.
Be sure to communicate all physical symptoms that arise immediately following the incident to the doctor, such as:
- Swelling or contusions at the point of impact;
- Headaches and/or feeling faint;
- Profuse bleeding;
- Any numbness is experienced, such as tingling sensations in your arms or legs, which could be indicative of nerve damage.
This information is not only important to get you the care you need, but will also play a critical role in any future claims you may have against the property owner for your injuries.
Seeking Compensation for Your Slip and Fall Injury
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be able to receive compensation from any at-fault party and their insurance company. As such, it’s important to understand your rights and how to pursue a claim for damages.
In Minnesota, personal injury claims like slip and falls or trip and falls are typically governed by the state’s laws of negligence. What this means is that to recover damages after a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, you must prove that another person or entity was negligent in causing your injuries. A property owner is negligent if there is a dangerous or hazardous condition on their property that they knew, or should have known about, and did nothing to remedy or warn of that dangerous or hazardous condition. Due to the defenses available to property owners, these claims can be difficult, however, and eye-witness testimony and photographic evidence is crucial to help prove the negligence of another party.
It’s important to note, however, that the standard of care for property owners is one of reasonableness. That is, did they act as an ordinary or reasonable person would have acted in the same situation. Property owners do not need to do everything possible to keep their property free and clear of hazards, they only need to do what is reasonable to do so. For example, Minnesota law gives property owners a “reasonable” amount of time to remedy or warn of hazards.
It would not be reasonable for a property owner to keep their property free of snow and ice while it is actively snowing, but if the weather condition has stopped, they have a reasonable amount of time to get out there and clear the snow and ice. They also have a “reasonable” duty to inspect, which means they must take reasonable steps to inspect their property for dangers and hazards. If the property owner has acted “reasonably,” then they will not be considered at fault for the accident.
Recovering Damages After a Slip and Fall Accident
Minnesota law allows injured individuals to recover damages for their losses. The amount of compensation an individual can receive depends on several factors, including: who was at fault for the accident, the nature, severity, and permanency of the injuries, how much in medical expenses have been incurred, whether the person has incurred wage loss, and how the injuries have affected the person’s life.
Understanding the types of damages available after a slip and fall accident is essential for seeking full compensation for your injury.
- Medical Expenses Related to Your Injuries. This includes both past expenses as well as future costs associated with ongoing treatment or rehabilitation services. It also includes out-of-pocket expenses for medications..
- Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity. If your injuries prevent you from returning to work for some period of time following the accident, you may be able to pursue compensation for lost wages during this time period. Additionally, if your injuries result in long-term disability that affects your ability to earn income going forward, you can potentially seek additional damages known as “loss of earning capacity,” which would compensate you for this diminished future earning potential.
- TIP: Keep track of all medical bills and lost wages associated with your injury, as this will be crucial in negotiating a fair settlement from the insurance companies or other parties involved. Also be sure to document pain and suffering through journaling, since this can bolster any claims you make against those responsible for causing your harm.
Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Having an experienced legal professional on your side can be beneficial in securing the most advantageous outcome when seeking compensation for your slip and fall accident. A personal injury lawyer’s expertise can be invaluable in navigating state laws related to slip and fall accidents, as they understand relevant statutes, regulations, and precedents that may affect your claim.
Your lawyer will also be aware of what evidence is essential to back up your claim, including medical reports, witness accounts, photos taken at the accident site and police records. They can then leverage this evidence to effectively negotiate settlements with insurance companies or take legal action against those responsible for your harm when appropriate.
How Nelson Personal Injury Can Help
Successfully seeking compensation for a slip and fall injury requires an in-depth understanding of the law. A personal injury attorney who is well-versed in handling slip and fall cases can:
- Assess your case to determine if you have legal and factual grounds for a claim against the liable parties;
- Help you recover damages related to medical bills and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering.
An experienced lawyer will ensure that you are treated fairly and negotiate complex legal matters on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact Nelson Personal Injury today to discuss your legal options. We are dedicated to helping our clients seek justice for their injuries and losses.