Negligence cases involving car accidents are well known. However, falls or slip-and-fall accidents are even more prevalent but seemingly go unnoticed. After car crashes, falling is the second leading cause of death by injury in this country and causes 32,000 deaths each year.
These numbers are four times greater than the number of fatalities caused by drowning and fire combined. Approximately three times as many people are killed in this country by falling than by firearms. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that falls, more than any other accident, was the greatest cause of patients going to emergency rooms. Falls led to visits at a rate that is three times greater than car accidents.
Falls can occur under normal or dramatic circumstances. In December 2007, two window washers fell from a scaffolding attached to a 47-story apartment building in New York's Upper East Side. The scaffolding was designed to lower them down the building's glass exterior. The anchors, which were to secure the 1,250-pound platform to the building, became loose. The men and the platform plunged 472 feet to the ground in six seconds. The 30-year-old man was immediately killed when he fell from the scaffolding and struck the top of a fence.
First-responders found the other man conscious and breathing amid the wreckage of the scaffolding. Paramedics immediately transported him to a hospital without even providing field treatment because his injuries were so severe. He survived his injuries.
These dramatic types of falls are rare. The most prevalent types of falls are not from roofs or cliffs, but take place in more mundane locations such as aisles in grocery stores, stairwells and showers.
Falling, even tumbling off a piece of furniture, can have life-altering consequences. These can cause bone fractures and injuries to the brain, spinal cord and internal organs, which can be seriously debilitating. Falls are also expensive. The average hospitalization cost was $34,000 in 2012. These accidents amount to up to one-third of emergency room budgets.
Falls can be attributed to age, declining health, poor nutrition or excessive swaying and shifting while walking. Negligence may also cause these accidents through badly-maintained or icy sidewalks, wet floors or other dangerous property conditions. An attorney may help accident victims and their families seek compensation when negligence was the cause of the accident.
Source: CNN, "How to fall to your death and live to tell the tale," June 7, 2017