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3 myths about fall-down accidents

Falling down is such a common occurrence that you may not associate it with disabling injury. However, injuries from falls are one of the leading reasons for ER visits.

Avoid "falling for" these three myths about falls, so you can prevent them or respond appropriately when they happen.

Myth # 1: Only falls from heights are dangerous

Most people picture the act of falling as being from a high place, such as a roof or scaffolding. Falls at ground level are often considered funny, because we don't always hear about the serious aftermath. While falls from great heights are more likely to cause critical injury or fatality, falls at ground level cause hundreds of thousands of injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

· 1 in 5 falls results in serious injury, including household and recreational falls.

· Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries.

· 3 million elderly people go to the ER each year for fall injuries.

· 800,000 Americans are hospitalized for fall injuries, especially broken hips.

People commonly try to break a fall by putting out their hands or grabbing onto something. This often results in broken wrists, broken collarbones, hand or elbow fractures, or injuries to tendons and ligaments in the back or shoulder joint. Any of these can result in weeks out of work or lasting disability in that limb.

Myth # 2: Falls are only a risk for seniors and construction workers

Those who are older and those who work in dangerous industries do indeed have a higher risk of falling and sustaining an injury. But no one is immune to falling. In fact, over-confidence can cause you to overlook a fall hazard, such as icy walkways or improperly secured ladders.

Children are also prone to falling, having less coordination, caution and awareness of their surroundings. While it is true that children's bones are more "bendy," when they do sustain fractures kids are susceptible to complications of recovery such as improper healing or interruption of growth plates.

Myth # 3: Falls are "accidents"

Most (if not all) falling injuries are preventable. If you fall in a public place, it is not necessarily from your own distraction or clumsiness. The property owner may have been negligent, leading to a dangerous condition that made a fall extremely likely. Examples of negligence in slip-and-fall accidents include:

  • Not clearing away ice and snow from walkways and stairs
  • Failing to clean up a spill in a timely manner
  • Forgetting to post a "wet floor" sign
  • Leaving merchandise in aisles
  • Stocking shelves and displays too high
  • Lacking sufficient lighting
  • Not repairing or eliminating uneven surfaces

In these situations, you can hold the business, landlord or property owner legally accountable for compensation. When falls happen at work, you have a workers' compensation case (regardless of fault) and maybe a third-party claim.

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