Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council. They account for nearly nine million visits to emergency rooms every year.
Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
Falls Are Costly, And Can Be Very Serious
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
- Each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of the total.
Effects After a Fall
Many falls do not cause injuries, but one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.
- Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
- Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
- Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.
Causes of a Fall
Research has identified many conditions, or risk factors, that contribute to falling. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Home hazards or dangers such as
- broken or uneven steps,
- throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
- no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
If you have been seriously hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, you should seek experienced legal help. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other losses caused by the slip and fall.
Reyes Browne Reilley is a Dallas, Texas, based Martindale-Hubbell AV-Rated personal injury law firm. Our Dallas premises liability lawyers have a nearly combined 100 years experience representing plaintiffs in personal injury, business, and dangerous prescription drug & device litigation.