Property Owners Must Take Care of Fallen Leaves on Walking Surfaces or Risk Liability
Unkept Leaves Can Create Slip, Trip, and Fall Injuries This Season
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports show same-level slips, trips, and falls send about one million people to the emergency room each year. And this time of year, poorly maintained walkways and parking lots can be damaged with cracks and potholes covered by fallen autumn leaves, mixed with excess water and debris.
Fallen leaves can create an injury prone scene when left to gather and blow across walking surfaces among wet, cooler temperatures. Surfaces become slick and problem areas like cracks in blacktop or holes in parking lots become covered and masked to anyone walking by making slips, trips and falls one of the top causes of unintentional injury this season. Business and residential owners, as well as state and local municipality leaders, have a responsibility to prevent and clear this debris. Negligence from managing cluttered or slick walkways and parking lots can lead to major injuries such as:
- Back and spinal cord injuries. The impact to the body in a slip-and-fall accident can fracture vertebrae or cause slipped or herniated discs, which cause significant pain and limit mobility and can lead to paralysis and other neurologic and sensory impairments.
- Head Injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and cause 40 percent of all TBIs in the United States that require emergency room treatment or hospitalization or lead to death.
- Hip fractures. More than 95 percent of broken hips are suffered in falls. A hip fracture typically requires surgery and hospitalization as well as extensive rehabilitation. One in five hip fracturepatients die within a year of their injury.
- Shoulder injuries. A slip-and-fall accident may result in a shoulder dislocation or an injury known as a “brachial plexus injury.” These painful injuries are treated with surgery followed by physical therapy to rehabilitate the injured limb and joint.
- Sprains and fractures. The impact of twisting a knee or ankle or landing on the ground while falling can break bones. The most common fractures suffered in falls are of the hip, spine, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand or wrist.
While every slippery surface cannot be avoided, we can try our best by doing simple things like allowing more time to walk somewhere and watch the ground in the direction we are headed. If beginning to slip, try not to put all the pressure on hands or wrists to break a fall. Wrist fractures are the most common injury seen by medical professionals during winter months.
Slip and fall accidents are also a leading cause of brain injury. The warning signs of a brain injury can vary from person to person and are dependent upon the severity. Here are distinct symptoms to look for:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty thinking or speaking
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of consciousness for any amount of time
- Memory loss
- Mood swings
- Slurred speech
Understanding the signs and symptoms of a brain injury can ensure recovery more quickly. Seek medical support if you or a loved one experience any injury symptoms after a slip, trip, or fall.
Property Owners Must Clear Safe Paths
In several Indiana communities, city ordinances require homeowners and businesses to clear the sidewalks in front of and adjacent to their properties. If you do see an unsafe walkway condition let the responsible party know immediately to prevent others from falling and injuring themselves. If you are the person responsible for the prevention and removal of debris and trip hazards on a property, be sure to perform regular maintenance to any damaged concrete where blowing leaves could gather to prevent falls and injuries that could ultimately cause damage to others.
Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your premises liability or slip and fall accident claim with years of experience and proven results. Call the law firm of Wagner Reese today at (888) 204-8440 or request a free consultation by submitting our online form.