Slip-and-falls can cause serious injuries to elderly

Mar. 16th, 2015   /   , ,

Slip-and-falls can cause serious injuries to elderly

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As the U.S. population ages, slip-and-falls among the elderly have become a major issue. More than 2.4 million people per year over the age of 65 suffer injuries in falls that are serious enough to require a visit to an emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s double the number from just 10 years ago!

And during the past 10 years, more than 200,000 senior citizens died after falls. In fact, falls are now the leading cause of death among Americans over 65 years old.

If you are a senior who has experienced a fall (or if you have an older family member who has fallen), it is wise to seek medical attention, and also to talk with an attorney – even if it initially seems like everything is okay.

When older people fall, the consequences aren’t always immediately obvious. Sometimes it takes a while before the full effect of an injury is felt. Unless you’ve taken steps to document the circumstance of the fall, your ability to obtain legal compensation for the harm may disappear.

For Instance, many falls result in a concussion or traumatic brain injury. You might be surprised to learn that more than 40% of all such injuries are caused by falls – that’s more than are caused by auto accidents, sports injuries, and criminal assaults put together.

But unless you see a doctor, a mild traumatic brain injury could go undiagnosed.

What’s worse, the typical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include memory problems, impaired thinking and movement, trouble with vision or hearing, and personality changes or depression. Many people attribute these problems in seniors to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or simply “getting older”. And yet the real cause of the condition could be a brain injury that resulted from a slip-and-fall.

Another problem with falls is that they can cause subtle injuries or weaknesses that make a senior more likely to fall again in the future. Falls can lead to fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis or hand, which can be highly debilitating and lead to a stint in a nursing home. Many older people never quite recover from a series of problems that begin with a fall.

And while most young people who recover physically from a fall are not left with any emotional scars, the same is not always true of seniors. Seniors who have a bad fall often develop a profound fear of falling again, which leads them to curtail a lot of their activities. This can lead to depression as well as declining physical health.

So when an elderly person falls, it’s wise to speak to an attorney and document the circumstance, so that if the person is injured or develops symptoms later, it may be possible to obtain compensation.

In general, property owners have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent circumstances that can lead to slip-and-falls, such as broken pavement, potholes in walking areas, slippery floors, and the like.

In addition, businesses that cater to older people may need to take special steps to protect them – such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior centers, medical supply stores, medical office buildings, pharmacies and hospital. These businesses may need to take extra care to make sure stairways have handrails on each side, steps have safety treads, walkways are free from potholes and entrances and exits are unobstructed and easily accessible.

If you have any questions, or if you’ve been injured or harmed in a fall incident, please contact our Palm Beach and Broward County personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@aronberglaw.com to schedule a consultation at no cost or obligation. We look forward to assisting you.

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