Most of the time when you slip and fall, you just laugh at yourself, look at your bruised knee and move on. But some falls can cause serious head injuries, ranging from mild concussions to more life-altering brain injuries. Slip, trip and fall victims should carefully assess if anyone is responsible for their falls and meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss possible compensation.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Inside our skulls, fluid surrounds our brains, acting as a cushion to prevent the brain from making contact with the insides of our skulls. However, any jarring motion can potentially cause the brain to contact the skull anyway. You can also suffer a traumatic brain injury if an object penetrates the skull, such as a bullet or metal stake. Depending on the severity of the jolt to your head, you might suffer from mild or more severe brain injuries.
Symptoms of Brain Trauma
A mild brain injury, such as a concussion, generally will not threaten your life, though you should certainly have a doctor look at it. Common symptoms of mild trauma include:
- Headaches that worsen
- Inability to wake up
- Numbness in their fingers and toes
- Slurred speech
- Unusual behavior, such as combativeness
- Brief loss of consciousness (for a few seconds or minutes)
- Sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too much or too little
- Sensitivity to sound or light
- Blurred vision or other sensory problems such as ringing in the ears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Victims who suffer moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries frequently experience the same symptoms as those of moderate brain trauma. However, they also may face other symptoms, such as:
If you suffered a blow to a head and experience any of these symptoms—immediately or within a few days—see a medical professional who can diagnose you.
Slipping and Falling
Many times, you can break your fall with your arms or hands and avoid any hard blow to the head. However, it’s always possible that you’ll hurt yourself when you fall, such as in the following situations:
- You trip over a crack in the sidewalk and slam your head into a fire hydrant or against a tree
- You fall in a store and knock your head against a shelf of countertop
- You fall in someone’s home and knock your head against a table or chair
- You slip on a wet floor and land straight on your back, unable to break your fall with your hands or arms
Any of these accidents might lead to a severe enough blow to your head that a traumatic brain injury will result. Your recovery may depend on immediate medical attention.
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries
Your treatment will depend on the severity of the injury and the injured parts of the brain. If you suffered a mild concussion, then your doctor will probably prescribe bed rest so that you don’t jolt your head again. For pain management, you might use over-the-counter drugs (like ibuprofen or Advil), or your doctor might approve a prescription painkiller. All in all, a mild concussion typically resolves itself after seven to 10 days.
More severe brain trauma will require more intensive therapies. Specific parts of the brain control specific behaviors, such as speech or emotional control, and any injury to those parts of the brain will damage your motor skills and behaviors accordingly. Victims with traumatic brain injuries often need the following therapies:
- Occupational therapy, so that they can return to their jobs—or to any job at all
- Speech and language therapy to help them communicate
- Physical therapy to retain motor skills, such as the ability to walk
- Psychiatric therapy, so they can maintain their social support network and personal relationships
About half of all victims with severe traumatic brain injuries will need surgeries to repair bruised brain tissue (called a “contusion”) or to repair ruptured blood vessels. Some disabilities will respond to the appropriate therapy, but many victims might suffer from disabilities for the rest of their lives, which can interfere with their memory and ability to communicate.
When Can You Seek Legal Representation?
It’s easy to fall, especially as we get older. However, you can only sue the companies or people who were in some way responsible for the fall. Depending on the situation, this might mean that the owner of the premises must find hazards and fix them or at the very least warn you of them. Landowners can fall short of their duties in many ways:
- A store owner mops down floors but doesn’t put up cones or other signs warning customers about the wet floors
- A landlord doesn’t check the stairs in his building, which become loose and dangerous
- A homeowner doesn’t replace loose tile or floorboards, and a guest trips as a result
The key to a successful negligence lawsuit: proving that the premises owner knew or should have known about the hazard. Owners can’t put their heads in the sand and try to ignore problems. Instead, when they invite people onto their properties, they accept responsibility for ensuring that their properties remain free of hidden defects.
Things are different if you slip and fall when you didn’t have permission to go onto someone’s property. Landlords only owe trespassers a duty not to harm them intentionally—except in cases involving children, in which case they must place warnings and take reasonable measures to keep children away from any dangers on their properties.
Traumatic brain injuries result in expensive treatments, rendering some people unable to work and in intense pain. Slip and fall victims can typically receive financial compensation from the party at fault for:
- Current medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation services
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Loss of companionship
The amount you may receive will depend on the severity of your injuries, whether you followed your doctor’s orders, and whether the negligent party has insurance. Contact us for a free case evaluation to understand the type of compensation to which North Dakota or Minnesota laws may entitle you.