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Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on March 5th, 2014,
by Zane Cagle

The Pitfalls of Slip and Falls

Posted on March 5th, 2014 by Zane Cagle

slip and fall accidentAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, a study conducted by The John Hopkins University and published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, finds that falls are the leading cause of injuries such as bone fractures and spinal cord trauma among older adults in the United States.

Researchers analyzed data from over 40,000 adults who were treated in the ER for spinal cord injuries between 2007 and 2009.  They found, spinal cord injuries for patients aged 65 and older increased 11 percent over the course of the study.  Spinal cord injuries from falls were at 30 percent for those over the age of 65 during the study period and that was up from 23.6 percent when the study began.

Falls and Anxiety

After someone experiences the trauma of a fall, they can develop a fear of falling again.  The CDC also reports, “this fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling”.  In other words, a vicious cycle. Living in fear of falling also likely increases feelings of anxiety which could lead to a physician prescribing anti-anxiety medication. While this may help the anxiety, recent studies have demonstrated these types of drugs may cause higher risks of falls and dementia.

Suggestions for Breaking the Anxiety-Fall Cycle

These studies have lead the American Geriatrics Society to issue a general warning to seniors, “benzodiazepines increase risk of cognitive impairment, delirium, falls, fractures and motor vehicle accidents in older adults”.  The cycle begins again.  Like the chicken or the egg, it really doesn’t matter which came first: falling or anxiety over falling causing falling.  So what are some alternatives?

Listen to your body and learn your limitations as you age and consider options from prescription drugs to manage stress and anxiety.  Some experts recommend yoga regardless of your age.  “The practice of yoga creates awareness in the body and mind.  By gentle movements and stretches, you’re better able to identify limitations and changes within the body. The various bends, twists and stretches that yoga practice offer help to keep the joints lubricated and the spine supple.  Yoga also strengthens muscles and protects the bones. The yoga practice involves many breathing exercises, which have calming effects on the respiratory system and nervous system; breathing practices are proven to lower anxiety and stress” Rachel Goldberg, a Certified Yoga Therapist and Founder of YogaWings.

A decision to try something new such as chair yoga can start a positive chain reaction thus breaking a vicious cycle for many individuals.

Falls Are Not Always Simple or Product of Age or Clumsiness

Generally, we one of us falls, we tend to think that we were clumsy, not paying attention or under the influence but that is not an absolute truth. Actually, people of all ages and types slip and fall in unique conditions.  Frequently, someone will fall because the walkway is in disrepair or there is a slippery substance, such as water after cleaning.  If these walkways are owned by a business and are not maintained properly thus creating a safety hazard, then just about anyone can fall regardless of age or agility.

Slip and falls are not always easy to assess as to cause unless something was blatantly in your path and if it were “blatant”, you would have seen it, right?  However, sometimes conditions present us with scenarios where we slip and fall in an area that we would not expect. If you are in a public area or a business and you slip and fall, you may have a premises liability case.  Premises liability laws are slightly different in Missouri and Illinois. Some premises liability cases involve factors such as: inadequate lighting, playground and park injuries, falling objects, elevator and escalator accidents, swimming pool, and slip and falls/trip and falls.

If You Have Been Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident

Sometimes a condition of a walkway can cause us to fall such as lighting, holes in the walkway or objects for us to stumble over.  No two slip and fall cases I have ever had are alike.  Slip and fall cases as very dependent on the fact patterns of the scenario including, where did the fall happen? what were you doing at the time of the fall?  what were you doing previous to the fall? and who was responsible for the area of the fall? And, what kind of injuries did you sustain from the fall?

Slip and falls can vary in injury from small bumps and bruises to fractures and spinal injuries including traumatic brain injuries.  Often, people do not think of “slip and falls” as serious, however, depending on the angle and the impact, they can result in very serious injuries and it is not always because the person falling was “old” or “clumsy” as some tend to think. Every situation is different and if you fall at a business, you should insist that an incident report be done as soon as you are able to do so. Obviously, if you have to exit the business via ambulance, then an incident report will not be your first priority.  But, be certain to follow up with the business as soon as possible or notify an employee while still at the business.

If you have been involved in a slip and fall accident or a trip and fall accident and there were factors such as a wet floor or circumstances that you could not foresee, you may need legal representation. Our attorneys are available seven days a week to discuss the circumstances of your fall as well as the injuries that you sustained. Consultations are always free with an expert attorney to discuss the facts of your situation and determine if you need legal assistance. Call us locally (314) 276-1681 or toll free (800)685-3302