Last year, we warned that more and more people are being seriously hurt in falls — where they slip or trip, lose their balance, and fall down. These kinds of accidents happen all the time, in all sorts of places — and while some of these incidents are minor, with victims suffering little more than a skinned knee and some embarrassment, other falls are serious accidents where the victim is severely injured. People die from falls, too.
In our December 2015 post, we discussed how the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had released reports that the number of American workers being seriously hurt on the job from a fall was on the rise. This is extremely concerning when the fall involves a “fall to a lower level” accident, where someone falls off a scaffold, or ladder, or higher level, because permanent injuries (brain injuries, spinal cord injuries) are much more likely to result.
Work-related falls remain a very real problem here in Indiana and Illinois.
Falls For Seniors and Elders
According to the National Council of Aging (NCOA), falls are the leading cause of death for older Americans as well as the number one accident where elders and seniors are injured in an accident. While falling down may seem more likely for someone who is advanced in years and may have issues with arthritis, hearing, sight, or other physical conditions, it is also true that many of these accidents can be avoided and prevented.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
- One-third of Americans aged 65+ fall each year.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
- Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
- In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
- The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
- Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
Nursing homes, care facilities, hospitals, and other businesses and institutions all have a duty to provide reasonable and necessary protections from falls, especially when it is known that elders and seniors will be walking on their premises. These protections are made under state “premises liability laws” which are designed to insure that profit-oriented organizations take the time to make sure that those they invite onto their property are safe from harm in doing so.
Falls Involving Children
Falls are also a serious danger to our children. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for American children from infancy to the age of 19 years. Shockingly, the CDC reports that each day, around 8000 children are taken to local emergency rooms for medical treatment needed because they have fallen down and been hurt.
That’s 2.8 MILLION kids every year.
Of course, kids will fall down — they are playing, running, jumping, doing the things that kids do. However, these kids need to be properly supervised and the areas where they are allowed to roam freely need to be monitored for safety. A school playground or after-school yard can be a fun escape or a dangerous condition, depending upon the equipment provided and the maintenance it is given.
Falls involving children can result in serious and life-altering injuries as well as death. Even minor bumps to the head in a fall, including those falls that happen while playing school sports, can mean permanent injuries to the brain or spinal column.
Time Deadline For Filing a Slip and Fall Accident Claim: Statutes of Limitations
When someone is seriously injured in a fall, loved ones are understandably more concerned with making sure they have proper emergency treatment as well as long-term medical care and rehab therapy. However, it’s also important to maintain the legal rights to justice for the fall accident victim, and loved ones need to know that state laws do place time deadlines on the filing of claims for damages resulting from the negligence that has caused the accident.
For instance, Indiana Code Section 34-11-2-4 provides that “[a]n action for: (1) injury to person or character; [or for] (2) injury to personal property…must be commenced within two (2) years after the cause of action accrues.”
Which means that there is a TWO YEAR time ticker placed upon the filing of that claim under Indiana premises liability law. If the claim is filed after two years have passed since the fall happened, then the defendant (the school, the sports arena, the hospital, the clinic, the employer, the contractor, etc.) may be able to avoid liability simply by the defense of arguing it’s “too late” under the statute.
If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in a fall, then premises liability laws exist to help those responsible for the accident take responsibility for the consequences, whether the fall happened on the job, at school, at a hospital, or inside a restaurant or theater. If someone is seriously hurt in a fall, then the property owner and business operator will be liable for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more under state premises liability laws if they have acted negligently and caused the fall to occur.
Be careful out there!