Key Points of This Article
- Property owners, as well as state and local municipality managers, have a responsibility to prevent slick walkways and clear snow and ice from areas used by customers, tenants and the public.
- In premises liability cases, property owners are held responsible for financial damages due to an injury that occurred on their property.
- Negligence from managing winter walkways and storefronts can lead to lasting slip and fall injuries which impact a person’s ability to work.
- Most Kentucky city ordinances require property owners to keep sidewalks clear of ice and snow buildups.
This winter, Kentucky businesses, residential and commercial property owners will be responsible for many slips and falls caused by snow, ice and water that has been left to settle in doorways, and on top of stairs, sidewalks, and driveways. Children and the elderly are most prone to slip and fall injuries that can sometimes lead to disability, paralysis, and even death. Here is a list of winter’s most common slip and fall injuries.
#1 Soft Tissue Injuries, Cuts and Abrasions
Cuts, abrasions, road rash, gashes, and deep bleeding wounds which require stitches are most recognized by emergency department personnel assisting slip and fall accident victims. These injuries typically happen after a sharp blow to the head or body by the ground, a laceration, or when the body collides with an obstruction. Severe swelling or infection may present within hours or days after a soft tissue injury, and scarring is almost inevitable.
#2 Contusions and Serious Head Injuries
A contusion is a bruise caused by a direct blow that crushes and cracks underlying muscle and tissue without breaking the skin. A contusion can result from a person’s head being slammed onto the ground, into a door, or even onto an object during their fall. A hemorrhage can quickly follow and cause life-threatening brain damage.
Traumatic brain injuries can create serious long-term effects and disability that will require life-altering decisions to be made by individuals and their families. Treatment and recovery may require full-time home-health assistance, physical rehabilitation, and expensive surgeries.
#3 Whiplash and Neck Sprain
The head and neck can be easily injured during a fall, causing whiplash-type-injuries and unnatural movements to the spine which cause damage, friction and tension throughout the entire body. More serious whiplash injuries spark changes to occur throughout the structures in and surrounding the neck and shoulders, causing chronic headaches and debilitating pain. Whiplash injuries often require extended therapies and a recovery time of six to nine months.
#4 Spinal Cord Injuries
Fall-related injuries to the spinal cord can cause different types of mobility impairments, depending on the areas of the spine affected. For those with severe spinal cord traumas caused by a slip and fall, a loss of function to certain parts of their body may arise and limit the use of their neck, arms, legs, torso, or hands properly. For many, life will never be the same, and unfortunately, any type of daily tasks may become impossible to perform without assistance.
#5 Broken Bones
Depending on how a person falls, breaking a bone (fracture) can be incredibly common. Broken hip bones and tailbones can be painful injuries and require a long recovery along with fractured legs, knees, and ankles. Arms, elbows, and wrists are also more prevalent to break if the person uses their hands in an attempt to brace a fall. The right diagnosis and treatment, including sometimes surgery, will depend on the specific bone that was fractured and the type of fracture.
#6 Facial Fractures
Facial fractures are broken bones anywhere on the face. The main types of facial fractures related to slip and falls can include a broken orbit, cracked cheekbone, forehead injuries, and a broken upper and lower jaw. Some symptoms such as pain, swelling, nosebleeds, problems with eyesight, restricted jaw movement, and bruising and swelling can be related to facial fractures. Permanent disfigurement is possible.
The responsibility to keep a property safe is known as a duty of care for property owners. For those who are part of a tenant-landlord agreement, it’s important to be specific about when and where the snow needs to be shoveled and how icy areas will be managed. If you pass through an area that is slick and not safe, be sure to report these spots to property managers or business owners to lessen the chance of others being seriously hurt in a preventable slip and fall accident.
What to Do If You Become Injured in a Slip and Fall
If you were injured in a winter slip and fall accident, visit with a doctor as soon as possible, especially if you suspect a head trauma. Call 911 if it is a serious injury that requires immediate help. If the fall was the result of someone else’s negligence and you wish to pursue a premise liability claim or seek disability because you can no longer work due to your injury, you will need a medical professional to document your diagnosis.
When you are ready, seek the expertise of an experienced premise liability lawyer to help prove that the owner or manager of the property did not meet his or her duty of care to prevent your injuries.
Owensboro and Madisonville Personal Injury Lawyers — No Recovery, No Fee
If you become injured due to another’s negligence from clearing or creating a safe pathway, the attorneys at Rhoads & Rhoads will be at your side to ensure you are cared for in the best way possible. Having decades of winning experience helping families throughout Western Kentucky, trust that we are here for you and can take care of your case.
Call us at 888-709-9329 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with one of our Madisonville or Owensboro personal injury attorneys.