Almost half of the houses in America have a set of stairs, as do many businesses. Although most trips up or down a set of stairs won’t present a problem, there are millions of people that fall down stairs every year and suffer serious injuries as a result. Sometimes, the fall is just an accident. Other times, the fall is the result of negligent maintenance of the stairs, a dangerous condition on the stairs, or a slippery substance on the stairs. If you or a loved one fell down stairs and suffered injuries as a result of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering. This article will discuss nine of the common injuries from falling down stairs that may form the basis of a premises liability claim for damages.
As you may have suspected, one of the most common injuries a person can suffer from falling down a set of stairs is a broken bone or multiple broken bones. Bones typically break when they sustain more pressure than the bone can withstand. During a fall, your body weight can create a stressful force on your bones. Additionally, people often land at awkward angles when they fall, which puts their bones at risk of fracture. Thus, in accidents involving falls down a set of stairs, people often fracture an ankle, hip, or wrist.
As a you age, typically your bones can lose density. The older you get, the more likely a broken bone can occur because of a fall. Legally, however, your age and health should not impact your ability to financially recover from a fall down a set of negligently maintained stairs. In other words, the value of your case should not be lessened by the fact that you are older or have other pre-existing health issues that would make you more susceptible to breaking a bone.
Sprained Ankles or Wrists
When we fall, whether it’s because of a slip, trip, or a fall down stairs, our instinct is often to reach out and place our arms in front of our body to try and break the fall. This response can make the injuries worse because of the tenseness of our limbs, and this may cause our joints to take more damage than they should. If your ligaments tear during a fall down a set of stairs, you may sustain a sprain or strain injury. Because ligaments do not receive a lot of blood flow, sprains and strains can take quite some time to heal. Additionally, these types of injuries are usually extremely painful and can greatly restrict a person’s day-to-day activities and overall movement.
Defense counsel will likely try to downplay your sprain or strain. However, sprains and strains can interfere with your ability to live a normal life, as we mentioned. Sometimes a sprain or strain can seriously impact your ability to walk or move around, and thus a sprain injury can prevent a person from being able to go to work. Other times, sprains and strains can negatively impact your ability to cook, clean, do yardwork, or even just brush your teeth. Overall, these types of injuries cause isolation, and they can prevent a person from doing the things he or she needs to do each day.
It is common for a person’s body to twist during a fall down stairs, and a person’s foot will often land on a stair at an odd angle. Often your knee may be susceptible to this twisting motion and awkward foot placement because the knee is composed of bone and ligaments. As a result of over-twisting your knee, you may sustain an injury to your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL). These types of injuries can take a long time to heal and commonly require surgery and post-surgical physical therapy. In the most severe cases, a fall down a set of stairs can require a total knee replacement surgery.
When a person suffers a serious knee injury as a result of a fall down a set of stairs, the pain may not set in right away. Sometimes, the adrenaline of the fall masks the pain for a few hours. Other times, the pain is immediate and excruciating, and the person must be transported to a hospital right away. After the initial pain wears off, the injured person is in for a long road to full recovery, if full recovery is even possible. Knee injuries can be some of the most devasting injuries because of the need for months or years of painful rehabilitations. Additionally, because each step is painful, the person often cannot work or accomplish the tasks he or she needs to accomplish.
Shoulder Dislocation and Muscle Strains
During a fall down stairs, your shoulder may take the brunt of the fall because it’s more difficult to catch yourself when you fall down stairs than it is to catch yourself when you fall on flat ground. When this occurs, you may sustain a shoulder dislocation, tear, and muscle strain. Sometimes a shoulder injury can resolve over weeks or months with the appropriate conservative treatment, such as chiropractic manipulation or physical therapy. Too often, however, shoulder injuries can require surgery and post-surgical therapy. Depending on your age at the time of your fall down stairs, your shoulder may never get back to the strength and range of motion you had prior to your fall.
Like a knee injury, shoulder injuries are especially bad because they often prevent us from being able to drive a vehicle or a bicycle or do the important things we need to do. In addition to affecting our transportation, a shoulder injury can make it extremely difficult to engage in everyday tasks, like eating, brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, tying your shoes, or anything that involves two hands. When the shoulder is disabled, the whole arm is basically useless. Therefore, in addition to being extremely painful, a shoulder injury can seriously disrupt a person’s life.
Spine and Nerve Damage
A fall down a set of stairs may cause serious spine and nerve damage. This is typically due to the fact that your spine and nerves are more fragile than other parts of your body. Nerve damage can result from your body over-stretching or because of direct trauma to your spine during a fall. While some nerve damage can resolve, far too often nerve damage can be permanent. Also, due to twisting or direct trauma to your spine during a fall, you may sustain spinal injuries, such as disc bulging and herniation, which can require significant treatment including surgery.
These injuries can make it impossible to carry on normal everyday activities. For example, a back injury can make it impossible for a person to drive or ride in a vehicle. Additionally, these types of injuries can make walking or moving difficult and painful. As a result, when you suffer any kind of spine and nerve damage, it could seriously affect your ability to make a living and take care of yourself without the help of others.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury, sometimes called a “TBI,” is very common when someone suffers a severe impact to the head or a severe jolting movement of the head. Thus, if you slip and fall down a flight of stairs, it’s very possible that you will hit your head and suffer a traumatic brain injury. As we mentioned, you don’t necessarily have to smack your head on the ground or on the stairs to suffer a traumatic brain injury. If the brain receives a severe enough jolt, it can cause serious harm, regardless of whether your head hit the stairs below. For example, if you slip down the stairs and smack your head on drywall or on the rail, or even if you fall into another person and jolt your brain, it can cause a traumatic brain injury.
One of the worst aspects of a traumatic brain injury is that people often don’t get treatment. As a result, they suffer from a variety of traumatic brain injury symptoms, and they often don’t know why they are suffering. Thus, if you think you may have suffered a brain injury, it’s best to get checked out as soon as possible after your accident to avoid worsening your injuries or experiencing any further injuries.
Cuts and Bruises
When people fall down a flight of stairs, they often land on the sharp edges of the stairs or hit the railing on the way down. Sometimes they smack the railing and smash into the sharp stairs below. The impact and velocity of a fall down a set of stairs and the sharp edges of the stairs themselves come together to create the perfect recipe for severe cuts and bruises. A person could suffer a cut from the impact splitting the skin, or the person may encounter a sharp edge of something and suffer a laceration. Any forceful impact could cause a bruise to soft tissues or even bone.
Cuts and bruises often look much worse directly after the accident than they do weeks down the road, even though soft tissue damage or other injuries may persist or worsen below the surface. Additionally, the defense will often pick apart an injured person’s injuries in an attempt to paint the injured person as someone who exaggerates his or her injuries. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take pictures of your injuries in the days after you slip and fall down a set of stairs to document just how brutal the experience was.
Soft Tissue Injuries
When we talk about a “soft tissue injury,” we’re basically just talking about an injury to a part of the body that isn’t bone. Some examples of soft tissues are muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and skin. As we all know, when you have a hard fall down a flight of stairs, the impact is often much higher and more brutal than if you simply fell on the ground. The momentum of the fall and the sharp edges of the stairs make serious injuries much more likely. Gravity works against us in a fall down stairs, and the altitude and velocity make matters much worse. As a result, a fall down a set of stairs can cause serious tears and strains, and these tears and strains can cause extreme and sometimes lasting pain.
Soft tissue injures can seriously impact a person’s life. Muscle tears or ligament tears can cause pain for months or even years. The pain can cause us to restrict our movement and activities. Thus, over time, a person with these types of injuries will start living a life that is much less enjoyable than the life they lived before the injuries. The pain takes away from every aspect of life and eventually can cause depression and isolation, in addition to a loss of income. If you suffered soft tissue injuries as a result of a slip and fall down stairs, you may be entitled to compensation for all these types of damages in a premises liability claim.
If you slip and fall down a flight of stairs, there’s a high likelihood that you will bump your head on a stair or other hard object nearby, like a rail. Additionally, stairs are almost always hard and unforgiving. As a result, head and brain injuries are very common when someone slips and falls down a flight of stairs.
Often times, a person may suffer a head injury and not be aware of it. Sometimes, it’s our family members that recognize that something is wrong, even when we don’t know we’ve suffered a head injury. Because head injuries are not as obvious as other types of injuries, people may live with these types of injuries for a long time without getting treatment, and some people may never get treatment for their head injury. As a result, these types of injuries can worsen over time and cause serious physical and psychological damage.
Contact Us for a FREE Consultation with One of Our Premises Liability Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in Florida as a result of a negligent business or property owner, you should speak with a skilled, experienced, and aggressive Orlando premises liability lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on our website, or you can call our Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm today at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free consultation by phone. When you schedule a consultation at our law firm, you will get a consultation with a lawyer, not a customer service representative or intake person.
If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’ve been injured in the Southeast, we have you covered. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need us.
For more information on personal injury cases in general, you can download our free personal injury guide: P.I. 101: Your Quick Guide to Personal Injury Claims.