Compared with a fall down stairs or off of the roof while working in construction, a slip-and-fall at the store probably doesn’t seem very serious. However, you don’t have to fall from a great height to be at risk of serious injuries.
According to federal statistics, one in five people who report a slip-and-fall suffers a noteworthy injury that requires medical care or a leave of absence from work. What are the serious injuries people are most likely to suffer in a slip-and-fall incident?
Traumatic brain injuries or head injuries
Perhaps the biggest risk of falling is that you might hit your head. If you fall backward, you may hit your head on the floor with the full momentum of the fall. If there are pieces of furniture or shelving fixtures near you when you slip, you can hit those on the way down as well.
Blunt force trauma to the head during a fall can cause swelling, bruising or bleeding on the brain that might lead to lasting consequences. Brain injuries can affect everything from your sense of balance to your cognitive function and personality. Some people who hurt their heads will have medical consequences that last for the rest of their life or prevent them from working.
Broken bones or fractures
Compared with a brain injury, breaking a bone probably doesn’t seem as grave. However, not all fractures heal quickly and cleanly. In fact, not all bones break the same way.
In a slip-and-fall, the direction of the force and the trauma that causes the fracture will influence how significant the injury is. If someone spins on their way down, they might develop a torsion or spiral fracture with multiple pieces and uneven edges.
Someone who falls particularly hard could break an arm while trying to catch themselves, possibly resulting in a compound or open fracture where the bone punctures the skin and causes blood loss and the risk of infection. Broken bones can quickly lead to missed time from work and major medical expenses.
People who slip and fall in the store could also suffer soft tissue injuries that require a month or more before they fully recover. Injuries that have permanent consequences and those that temporarily reduce someone’s earning potential may lead to legal claims by the person who fell against the business due to unsafe facilities.