Accidental falls accounted for 36,338 deaths in the United States in 2017, the last year for which complete statistics are available. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding an accidental fall, you may be entitled to compensation for personal injuries or wrongful death caused by an accidental fall.
Construction site falls occur for a number of reasons, including improperly guarded floor hole openings, lack of safety railings and failure to use lanyards. OSHA requirements address many workplace fall hazards. Unfortunately, most workplace accidents are subject to the Workers’ Compensation laws in your state. These laws typically bar personal injury or wrongful death claims arising out of a workplace accident when the cause of the injury or death is the negligence of your own employer, boss, coworker or yourself. In some states, “intentional torts” can be brought against an employer who consciously disregards safety requirements and subjects an employee to a known hazard. Consult an experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer in your area to determine the applicable law.
In most states, when a workplace fall is caused by the acts of a third party, such as the employee of another contractor, you can recover for personal injury or wrongful death from that third party. Likewise, if the injury or fatality is caused by a defective product or piece of equipment, such as a broken lanyard or defective scaffolding, the manufacturer, supplier or assembler of the defective equipment can be held liable.
Accidental falls also occur as a result of alcohol consumption on another’s premises. These falls can result in severe injuries, such as paralysis, quadriplegia, traumatic brain injury and serious orthopedic injuries. These injuries can be disabling and carry life-long costs. Often, when an individual under the influence of alcohol suffers injuries from an accidental fall, it is difficult to recover. In some states, the courts allow a jury to apportion fault between the injury victim and the owner of the premises if a defect or a hazard on the premises contributed to the injury. This is called contributory negligence or comparative fault. Again, you must consult with an experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer to determine whether contributory negligence acts as a bar to your claim in your state.
Accidental falls also occur during the course of numerous recreational activities. Typically, state law bars injuries that occur as a result of recreational activities. However, in some limited circumstances, compensation may be recovered for injuries sustained from an accidental fall during recreational activities when there is a known but hidden hazard that the premises owner failed to repair or warn others about. Premises owners owe a duty to individuals who are lawfully invited upon their premises to protect them against known but hidden hazards and dangers on the property.
Finally, accidental falls frequently occur in the setting of nursing homes and hospitals where people who are at high risk of falling are under the protective care of a nurse or other medical professional. Nursing home neglect is a common cause of falls. When elderly patients fall and sustain a broken hip, they are at a statistically higher risk of dying within the next year. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH can marshall forth the proof needed to show that a fractured hip contributed to the patient’s premature death.
Thanks to Mishkind & Kulwicki for their insight into personal injury claims and accidental falls.