If you slip and fall in a store, parking lot, or neighbor’s walkway, the first thing you’re probably going to feel (besides the pain!) is embarrassment. No one wants to be looked at as the clumsy person who ends up on their rear end all the time, and this might lead you to do some foolish things like ignoring the severity of injuries. Many people try to walk them off in an effort to be tough or hurry away before anyone sees them.
These things are natural emotional reactions, but they are definitely not smart. The damage that you sustain from a fall can be incredibly serious. According the state of New York, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for people who are 45 years and older. In many cases, you might not know how bad it is until you get a medical professional to examine you.
Falls can be especially dangerous – and embarrassing – for seniors, who may already be self-conscious about the way their bodies are deteriorating as they age. So what should you do if you experience a spill?
Steps to Take After a Fall
Stay down and assess the damage
For most of us, the first instinct we have after falling is to spring back up, but sometimes that can make things worse. Before attempting to get to your feet, look around and see if you notice any serious damage. If nothing is apparent, gently move your appendages to make sure there hasn’t been a break, sprain, or other injury. Don’t push yourself! If you see real damage or are experiencing significant pain, stay on the ground and call for help.
Find a sturdy object
When pulling yourself up after a fall, ideally you want assistance so that you’re putting as little pressure on your body as possible. If someone isn’t around to help you to your feet, the next best thing is to locate a sturdy object within reach and use it to pull yourself up. In situations where this isn’t possible, attempt to lift yourself onto your elbow or hands, or roll onto your hands and knees before standing completely.
Document the evidence
This is one far too few of us think about after the shock of a fall, but if you slipped because someone was negligent and it ends up leading to serious problems and high medical bills, you’re going to regret not having proof that someone else caused your fall. These cases can be hard to prove, so you want as much ammunition as possible. People who have smartphones with them should take lots of pictures so that you can show what caused the fall and document injuries immediately. You should also try to get a hold of any security tapes that are available just in case your accident was caught on camera and you can use that as evidence, too.
See a doctor
Because so many different, bad things can happen to our bodies in a fall, it’s important that you get in to see a doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes you might not even know that you’re suffering from a problem like back pain until days later, and by then, it may be harder to prove that it’s related to the fall. Moreover, doctors can help you find and treat issues before they get worse and require extra treatment and rehab.
Remember, just because you’re embarrassed or don’t think there’s anything wrong with you after a fall doesn’t mean that problems won’t surface later. But if you take care of yourself right from the beginning and solicit the advice of an experienced legal professional, you’re far less likely to suffer from bigger problems – and costs – later.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”