As the country’s population ages, falls are becoming a more common cause of unintentional death in the United States. Recently, these injuries surpassed motor vehicle collisions and became the second leading cause of injury-related death in the country.
Anyone can sustain a serious fall at any time. However, older adults are more susceptible to these injuries. Many of these individuals have gait disorders. So, when they trip, they usually fall. Moreover, many older adults have osteoarthritis and other pre-existing conditions which magnify their injuries.
In a serious injury case, like a spine injury, the medical bills alone could exceed $4 million. Because so much money is at stake, insurance company lawyers do what it takes to reduce or deny compensation in these cases. So, victims need a Lexington personal injury attorney to obtain the financial compensation, and justice, they deserve.
Head injuries are among the most common wounds in these cases. These serious injuries could come from one of two causes.
Many victims fall and hit their heads on solid ground. There is no cartilage or other padding around or near the skull. Therefore, this bone bears the entire brunt of the trauma impact. The skull can only take so much force.
Frequently, the motion of a fall, as opposed to the trauma impact, causes a brain injury. When people fall and land hard, even if they don’t land on their heads, their brains repeatedly slam against the insides of their skulls. The resulting brain swelling and bleeding usually requires immediate intervention.
Unfortunately for victims, this immediate intervention often doesn’t happen. Initial head injury symptoms include disorientation and confusion. Doctors frequently ascribe these symptoms to early-onset dementia or shock from the accident. These victims usually don’t receive proper treatment until they show advanced symptoms, like personality changes and severe headaches. At that point, their injuries are much more difficult to treat.
Other physical injuries include broken bones and exsanguination (excessive blood loss). Doctors must frequently use metal screws or plates to set broken bones. As a result, the victim often permanently loses at least some mobility, especially if the victim breaks a hip or leg bone. As for blood loss, the aforementioned motion also causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs have no protective skin layer, they often bleed profusely.
Many older victims never fully recover from these physical injuries. Half of victims over 65 cannot live independently after a fall.
The emotional injuries could be even worse. Frequently, older people are so afraid of a repeat fall that they rarely get out. As a result, their muscles atrophy, leaving them more vulnerable to a subsequent fall.
The medical bills associated with these serious injuries are usually staggering. If victims fall away from home, compensation for these expenses is available, if the property owner had a legal duty and knew about the hazard which caused the fall.
As for the legal duty, most fall victims are invitees in Kentucky. These individuals have direct permission (a dinner invitation) or indirect permission (an “open” sign) to be on the property. Furthermore, their presence benefits the owner. That benefit could be a financial benefit, like a retail purchase, or a noneconomic benefit, like social interaction.
If the victim was an invitee, the owner had a duty of reasonable care to prevent falls and other injuries. That’s one of the most intense legal responsibilities in Kentucky law.
A few other people are licensees or trespassers. Licensees, like guests of hotel guests, have permission to be on the property, but there is no benefit to the owner. Trespassers, like burglars, don’t even have permission to be there. Owners usually have a limited or nonexistent legal duty in these situations.
Additionally, victim/plaintiffs must prove knowledge of the wet spot on the floor, large sidewalk crack, or other hazard which caused the fall. This proof could be:
- Direct: Any direct evidence of actual knowledge usually surfaces during a lawsuit’s discovery process. During discovery, both sides exchange information about their claims and defenses.
- Circumstantial: Victim/plaintiffs may also use the time-notice rule to establish constructive knowledge (should have known). Basically, the longer the hazard existed, the easier it is to prove constructive knowledge.
Victim/plaintiffs must establish knowledge, and any other facts, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Unintentional falls often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers