Having a slip and fall accident is so common in older people that one-third of all Americans experience this type of injury after the age of 65. Hip fractures, which are also extremely common among the elderly, are caused by a slip and fall accident in 95 percent of cases.
Sadly, it takes older people more time to heal from serious injuries. Just the fact that someone over age 65 has fallen once increases the chances of it happening again.
An Underreported Problem
When seniors fall and hurt themselves, they are often hesitant to let anyone know. They’re afraid their doctor or family will pressure them to move into an assisted living facility or nursing home, which to them means losing more independence than they already have. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only half of older people who experience an injury from a fall report it to their doctor. That makes the number of cases doctors do know about even more alarming.
Among all senior citizens, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries. In 2013, the last year the CDC reported statistics on the problem, 2.5 million people over age 65 visited hospital emergency rooms due to injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident. Of these, nearly 735,000 required hospitalization.
Even when the person who falls is not seriously injured, the incident may cause them to limit their normal daily activities due to fear of having another fall in the future.
How Seniors and Caregivers Can Limit the Risk of a Slip and Fall Accident
Older Americans, concerned family members, professional caregivers and business owners can reduce the likelihood of a serious accident by taking the following precautions:
- Eliminate all area and throw rugs from the premises
- Install handrails in the bathroom and in common walkways
- Check for tripping hazards frequently and pick them up right away
- Make sure electrical and telephone cords are tucked away safely
- Put in a non-slip mat in the bathtub
- Ensure that all spills are cleaned up immediately
- Exercise even more caution on stairways, elevators, ramps, uneven surfaces, areas with no security guard present, and any area with a high amount of foot traffic
Unfortunately, someone can follow all of these precautions and still receive a serious injury due to the negligence of another person or place of business. In these situations, the injured person may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit due to premises liability. That means that the owner of the property where the senior citizen slipped and fell had a duty to keep the area safe but failed in that duty. In severe cases of negligence, he or she may be able to collect punitive damages as well.