The seven year old child who took a 35-foot fall from a ski lift at Blue Hills in late January understandably drew significant attention. The fall was dramatic, the victim was a child, and many people witnessed the incident. The boy reportedly sustained a head injury, but it was later reported that he was expected to make a full recovery.
Unfortunately, falls can have serious consequences. That’s true even when they are from a short distance, or even on the same level. In fact, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), the number of fall related fatalities in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2000, the NSC reported 13,322 fatal falls. In 2019, that number had climbed to 39,443 — nearly triple the 2000 figure.
Who is Most at Risk of Serious Fall Injuries and Fatality?
While anyone can be seriously injured, or even killed, in a fall, certain groups are at greater risk than others.
Older Americans are the Highest-Risk Demographic
The demographic that is at the greatest risk of serious injury or death from a fall is people over the age of 65.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in 2018 revealed that the rate of older Americans dying from falls had increased by 31% across a 10 year period. That increase is reflected in more than half of U.S. states, including Massachusetts. The increase in fall related fatalities was greatest among the oldest Americans – – those aged 85 and older. The next largest increase was among those aged 75 to 84. Though the increase among those aged 65 to 74 was smaller, it was steady across the study period.
Some Occupations are at Special Risk for Fall-Related Injuries
While older Americans who are more frail and potentially less steady on their feet are at the greatest risk as a demographic, certain activities also significantly increase the risk of serious injury or death from a fall. One of the most significant factors is occupation.
Falls are one of the most common causes of serious injury and death in the workplace. A fall can happen while working in a grocery store, walking through the break room at a call center, or in just about any other work environment. However, the construction industry presents a particular risk of fall related injuries and fatalities. In fact, this risk is so serious that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is promoting a nationwide event to encourage employers to talk to workers in the construction industry about fall prevention measures. Some of the greatest risks in that industry involved falls from ladders or scaffolding.
What to do if You’ve Been Injured in a Fall
Of course, the first step after any injury is to seek appropriate medical attention. If your fall injury is serious, requiring significant medical treatment and impacting daily activities or your ability to work, it may be in your best interest to speak to a personal injury attorney in your area. Whether you may be entitled to compensation, and what type of compensation may be available, will depend on the circumstances of the fall.
For example, those who suffer fall-related injuries at work are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Those benefits not only cover medical expenses, but also provide replacement income if the injured employee is unable to work. Depending on the circumstances, additional compensation may also be available from third parties.
Outside the work context, the owner or occupant of the property where a fall-related injury takes place may be responsible. For example, a nursing home resident who falls because a floor was slippery or because he or she wasn’t properly supervised may be entitled to compensation from the facility. Similarly, a shopper who is injured after slipping on an unmarked, wet floor in a retail shop may be entitled to compensation from the shop owner.
Every case is different, and the best way to get accurate information about your options after a fall-related injury is to speak with a local personal injury attorney. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, you can schedule a free consultation with attorney Kevin P. Broderick. Just call 978-459-1792 or fill out the contact form on this site.
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