Slip and Fall Injury Law in California
Slips, trips, and falls cause many fatalities per year and many more injurious accidents in the workplace according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury and over 17,000 people die in the U.S. annually because of these injuries. Slip, trip and fall injuries make up 15 percent of all job-related injuries.
Slip and falls accidents can cause other complications including:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Long-term medical complications
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
Common Causes of Falls at Work:
- Spilled liquids
- Cracked, torn or uneven carpeting or flooring
- Inadequate or non-existent warning signs
- Poor lighting
- Holes in the floor/uneven floor
- Broken or uneven stairs
- Cables, cords, or wires stretched across the floor
- Materials left on the floor
- Abrupt, unexpected elevator stops
Slips can be caused by wet surfaces, spills, or weather hazards like ice or snow. Slips are more likely to occur when you hurry or run, wear the wrong kind of shoes, or don’t pay attention to where you’re walking. According to OSHA, you can help avoid slips by following these safety precautions:
- Practice safe walking skills. Take short steps on slippery surfaces to keep your center of balance under you and point your feet slightly outward.
- Clean up or report spills right away. Even minor spills can be very dangerous.
- Don’t let grease accumulate at your workplace.
- Be extra cautious on smooth surfaces such as newly waxed floors. Also be careful walking on loose carpeting.
Trips occur whenever your foot hits an object and you are moving with enough momentum to be thrown off balance. According to OSHA, to prevent trip hazards:
- Make sure you can see where you are walking. Don’t carry loads that you cannot see over.
- Keep walking and working areas well lit, especially at night.
- Keep the workplace clean and tidy. Store materials and supplies in the appropriate storage areas.
- Arrange furniture and office equipment so that it doesn’t interfere with walkways or pedestrian traffic in your area.
- Properly maintain walking areas, and alert appropriate authorities regarding potential maintenance-related hazards.
According to OSHA, to avoid falls consider the following measures:
- Don’t jump off landings or loading docks. Use the stairs
- Repair or replace stairs or handrails that are loose or broken
- Keep passageways and aisles clear of clutter and well lit.
- Wear shoes with appropriate non-slip soles.
Types of Slip and Fall Injuries In the Workplace
- Contusion. When direct trauma to the head occurs in a fall, the brain can suffer a bruise, which essentially causes bleeding on the brain. While some brain contusions can be minor, others can be quite severe and may need to be surgically removed.
- Concussion. This type of head injury occurs from a jolt or blow to the head. A concussion is often considered a minor injury, but it is actually a type of traumatic brain injury that can cause someone to suffer significantly. Even “light” concussions can be complicated by slow healing, significant medical costs, and lost income. More serious concussions can permanently affect brain function.
- Hematoma. Brain hematomas occur when a blow to the head in a slip and fall accident causes damage to the brain’s outer blood vessels. A hematoma is essentially a blood clot that presses on brain tissue. If the pressure is not relieved, a hematoma can lead to lost brain function.
- Closed head injury. With this type of brain injury, the skull is left intact but the brain is impacted from bruised brain tissues, torn blood vessels, pressure within the skull, or swelling in the brain. Consequently, brain damage can occur that can lead to life-long problems.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Slip and falls are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries affect the central nervous system and often cause permanent changes in strength, sensation, and other body functions below the site of the injury.
Spinal cord injuries can cause one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- Loss of movement
- Loss of or altered sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Changes in sexual function, sexual sensitivity and fertility
- Pain or an intense stinging sensation caused by damage to the nerve fibers in your spinal cord
- Difficulty breathing, coughing or clearing secretions from your lungs
If more pressure is put on a bone than it can stand, it will split or break. A break of any size is called a fracture. If the broken bone punctures the skin, it is called an open fracture (compound fracture).
A stress fracture is a break in the bone that develops because of repeated or prolonged forces against the bone. The repeated stress weakens the bone until it finally breaks.
Sprains and Strains
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of ligaments — the tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most common location for a sprain is in your ankle.
Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Mild sprains can be successfully treated at home. Severe sprains sometimes require surgery to repair torn ligaments.
The difference between a sprain and a strain is that a sprain injures the bands of tissue that connect two bones together, while a strain involves an injury to a muscle or to the band of tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone.
Signs and symptoms will vary, depending on the severity of the injury, and may include:
- Limited ability to move the affected joint
- Hearing or feeling a “pop” in your joint at the time of injury
This is a linear break or opening in the skin of varying length and depth, which may be appear as a smooth incision or jagged tear.
- Puncture Wound These wounds come from landing on a pointed or sharp object, such as a nail, broken glass or the tines of a fence or rake. The break in the skin typically has a small, rounded surface area but the tear into tissue may be as deep as the length of the object encountered.
- Avulsion (“Degloving”) connective tissue or bone. This is a life-threatening injury because of the large amounts of blood loss and tissue death. Degloving is more commonly a leg injury, though it can happen to any part of the body, such as the torso.
Lacerations require immediate medical attention. If not attended to at once the injury could get worse, Deep cuts can damage skin, muscle, nerves, cause infection and other soft tissue.
One of the most common injuries resulting from a Slip & Fall injuries Symptoms of a strain or sprain include:
- Pain that gets worse when you move
- Muscle cramping or spasms (sudden uncontrollable muscle contractions)
- Decreased function and/or range of motion of the joint (difficulty walking, bending forward or sideways, or standing straight)
A sprain often occurs after a fall or sudden twist, or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position. All of these conditions stretch one or more ligaments beyond their normal range of movement, causing injury.
How are back sprains and strains diagnosed?
Mild strains and sprains can usually be diagnosed based on medical history—including a review of the symptoms and how the injury occurred—and a physical examination by a healthcare provider. In cases of more severe strains and sprains, especially when there is weakness or loss of function, an X-ray may be taken to rule out a fracture or broken bone or herniated disc bulge as the cause of the back pain.
Head injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. An object that goes through brain tissue, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull, also can cause traumatic brain injury.
Trauma to the head can cause several types of head and brain injuries, also called traumatic brain injury (TBI). Problems from head injury include:
Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. More-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death.
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later. It is very important to seek immediate treatment if you have suffered any type of head injury, especially if it may be a TBE.
- Skull fracture A skull fracture is a crack or break in one of the skull’s bones. In some cases, the skull is dented inward so that fragments of shattered bone are pressed against the surface of the brain. This is called a depressed skull fracture. In most cases, a skull fracture causes a bruise (contusion) on the surface of the brain under the fracture.
- Epidural hematoma This is a very serious form of bleeding that happens when one of the blood vessels under the skull is torn during an injury. Usually, the skull is fractured as well. As the injured vessel bleeds, blood collects in the space between the skull and the dura, the outermost of the three membranes that cover the brain. This collection of blood is called a hematoma. The hematoma can expand within the skull and press on the brain, causing death.
- Concussion If there are any symptoms of confusion, memory impairment or loss of consciousness after traumatic brain injury, the injury is called a “concussion.” Symptoms of a concussion can include not having memory of the minutes immediately before the injury, temporarily losing consciousness, or having vomiting, dizziness, coordination problems, confusion, ringing in the ears, sleepiness or seizures. Head trauma can cause swelling inside the brain and a potentially deadly increase in pressure inside the skull.
Each year, head injuries result in more than 2 million emergency department visits in the United States, with more than 72,000 deaths. An additional 80,000 to 210,000 people with moderate or severe head injuries become disabled or require extended hospital care.
What to do after a Slip and Fall Injury
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
- Medical treatment: Seek immediate medical care upon your injury. It is very important that you are treated right away for your injuries. Research shows that how soon a patient with a spinal cord injury begins rehabilitation and treatment has a tremendous impact on the effectiveness of recovery.
- Report the accident and Notify your employer: Notify your employer of your injury immediately upon your injury.
- File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Document everything: It is very important that you document everything related to your injury including the date, time and place. It is good practice to put everything in writing.
- Decline to give any statements to workplace or property manager. Statements can be used against you in a proceeding.
- Call an Attorney: Before making any statements to your manager call California Work Injury Law Center. We will protect your rights and ensure that you are getting the treatment and necessary representation.
Getting Legal Help from a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
If you have potentially been the victim of a slip and fall accident you need proper representation immediately. The sooner you file your claim the sooner you can get medical treatment. Give us a call and let us get you the care you need right away.
When to Hire a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
Whenever you injure yourself at work or doing work related activities it is very important that you speak with an attorney. California Work Injury Law Center will let you know if you have a case, what your rights are and will help you get any medical care that you may require.
Establishing Fault For Your Slip and Fall
California has a no-fault workers compensation system, benefiting both employees and employers. There is no need to establish fault for your slip and fall. Workers cannot sue their employers in court, and in return, employees do not have to prove that their employer was at fault for the injury–just that the injury was work-related.
Can Prove All Losses Caused By Your Slip and Fall
It is important to prove all the losses caused by your slip and fall injury. At California Work Injury Law Center, we can help prove all losses, such as wage loss, medical treatment and permanent impairment. At California Work Injury Law Center we take the time to listen to your case and always put your best interest first. By listening intently with a sympathetic ear we are able to expertly establish losses in your case.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim with a Slip and Fall Injury Lawyer
If your injury occurred during work or work-related activities, you are eligible to file a Workers Compensation claim. California Work Injury Law Center will file a claim on your behalf and fight for your rights. It is important that you have proper representation. California Work Injury Law Center has years of experience and knowledge, having worked on both sides, defense and now as a plaintiff’s attorney. Knowing both sides of workers compensation law has allowed us to successfully represent our clients for many years.
Slip and Fall Injury FAQs
How Much compensation can i receive for a slip and fall injury?
The amount of your settlement depends on a number of factors such as the severity of the injury, the length of time you worked at the employer, and the extent of the negligence on the part of the employer. Having proper representation in very important, California Work Injury Law Center has the expertise to negotiate on your behalf to maximize your settlement and take care of your current as well as future medical care.
How Much time do I have to file a workers' comp claim on a slip and fall injury?
You have 1 year from the time of the incident to file a claim for Workers Compensation. California Work Injury Law Center will file your claim on a timely basis and defend your rights.