Slip-and-fall accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and they can change your life in the blink of an eye. People of all ages can suffer severe traumatic injuries in slip-and-fall accidents, and the recovery process can be slow, painful, and extremely expensive.
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Chicago and are wondering about your legal rights, this article provides an introduction to what you need to know. Here, you will find information about common injuries and their causes, and at the end we have provided a checklist for assessing your claim for financial compensation. Of course, there is no substitute for speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney, and for personalized legal advice about your situation, we encourage you to call us 24/7 at 888-625-6265 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
While slip-and-fall accidents can cause many different types of injuries, most of these injuries will fall into four broad categories. These include: (i) head injuries, (ii) back injuries, (iii) bone fractures, and (iv) soft tissue injuries. Each of these types of injuries results from certain specific causes inherent in slip-and-all accidents; and, within these categories, some specific injuries are more common than others. Some of the most-common injuries we see in slip-and-fall accident cases include:
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when a blow to the head or violent shaking of the body causes the brain to make impact with the skull. Although concussions are generally considered to be a “mild” form of TBI, recent scientific research has shed light on the serious and potentially long-term effects of concussions from falls and other types of traumatic accidents.
As explained by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS):
“A concussion is an injury to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal brain function. It usually is caused by a blow to the head. In many cases, there are no external signs of head trauma. Many people assume that concussions involve a loss of consciousness, but that is not true. In many cases, a person with a concussion never loses consciousness. . . .
“Even mild concussions should not be taken lightly. Neurosurgeons and other brain-injury experts emphasize that although some concussions are less serious than others, there is no such thing as a ‘minor concussion.’ In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. [However, a] second concussion soon after the first one does not have to be very strong for its effects to be permanently disabling or deadly.”
In a slip-and-fall accident, a person can sustain a concussion as result of hitting their head on the floor or another object, or as a result of their head moving suddenly and violently when their body hits the floor. Initial symptoms typically include severe headaches, confusion or difficultly focusing, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, ringing in the ears, and other cognitive impairments.
A herniated disc is a type of back injury that occurs when the soft jelly-like substance inside of a spinal disc escapes through a tear in the disc. These tears can easily result from the forces involved in a slip-and-fall accident, and many people who have been struggling with back pain prior to their fall will find that their symptoms are suddenly much worse. While hitting your back in a fall is one way to suffer a herniated disc, a direct impact is not necessary to cause this type of injury. Common symptoms include:
The cylindrical bones that separate the discs in your spine are called vertebrae. In a slip-and-fall accident, these vertebrae can crack, resulting in what is commonly known as a spinal fracture. The treatment options and long-term effects of spinal fractures vary widely depending upon the severity and location of the fracture, and the disabling effects of spinal fractures can range from chronic pain to partial or full paralysis. Other potential effects of spinal fractures include:
Bones other than vertebrae can break in slip-and-fall accidents as well. Depending upon how a person lands, bones in the hands, arms, feet, and legs can all easily break under the force of a fall, as can ribs, sit bones and other bones in the pelvis, and potentially even bones in the face or skull.
While modern medicine allows for treatment and full rehabilitation of many types of bone fractures, recovery can take time, and some people will still experience chronic pain and other lasting symptoms. When pursuing a slip-and-fall claim involving a broken bone (or any other serious traumatic injury), it is critical to ensure that you have a clear picture of the long-term effects of your injury.
Soft tissue injuries can be painful and debilitating, but they can also be difficult to diagnose. Swelling, bruising, skin discoloration, and loss of mobility (or pain with movement) are all common symptoms, and soft tissue injuries can range in severity from sprains and strains to complete tears requiring surgical repair. Due to the fact that soft tissue injuries often do not produce symptoms that are immediately apparent, after suffering a significant fall, it is important to seek medical attention regardless of how you feel and even if you are not exhibiting external symptoms of a traumatic injury.
If your injury is not listed above, does this mean that you are without legal rights? Absolutely not. These are simply some of the injuries we most often see among clients who have been injured in slip-and-fall accidents. If you have suffered any serious injury in any slip-and-fall accident in the Chicago area, we want to hear from you, and one of our personal injury attorneys will be happy to speak with you personally to determine if you have a claim for financial compensation.
So, you slipped and fell, you are in pain, and you want to find out if you are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. What do you need to know?
While it is possible to secure compensation for a slip-and-fall accident at home in some circumstances (i.e. if you fell due to a construction defect), most slip-and-fall cases involve claims against third-party property owners and businesses. This includes the owners of stores, restaurants, office buildings, medical facilities, entertainment venues, and educational institutions, among others.
To pursue a claim for compensation, you need to know where you fell. This does not necessarily mean that you need the specific street address, but you need to be able to provide your attorney with enough information so that he or she can identify the owner of the property or business.
If you were aware of the dangerous condition before you fell, the property owner may try to use this against you. This will not necessarily provide the property owner with a defense to liability, but it is certainly a factor to discuss with your attorney.
This may seem obvious; but, in order to seek compensation, you need to be able to show that you suffered your injuries as a result of the fall. If you already had back pain or a broken leg and your condition is no worse than it was before you fell, then you generally would not have a claim against the property owner.
In order to prove that your injuries are fall-related, you need to obtain a medical diagnosis. If you have not done so already, see a doctor promptly, and be sure to discuss the details of your fall (and your symptoms) with him or her in detail. The more information you provide your doctor, the better able he or she will be to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you have any evidence from the scene of the fall, such as photographs or your damaged clothes, be sure to keep these in a safe place until you can give them to your attorney.
Finally, in order to determine whether you have a claim (and, if so, how much you are entitled to recover), you need to discuss your case with a local premises liability attorney as soon as possible. At Malman Law, we offer free and confidential initial consultations, and we do not charge any fees or costs unless we win just compensation.
Were you injured in a slip-and-fall accident in Chicago? If so, we invite you to contact us to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced premises liability attorneys. To request an appointment, call us at 888-625-6265, or tell us how to reach you online and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.