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Head Injuries From a Slip and Fall in New York

Category: Personal Injury

Liability and Damages for Head Injuries From a Slip and Fall in New York

One of the most common causes of personal injuries in the United States is a slip, trip, and fall.  Although most people may assume that slip and falls or trip and falls only happen to toddlers and elderly individuals, that is not true.  According to statistics, there are approximately 8 million emergency department visits each year in the United States due to falls, with over 1 million of those visits attributed to just slip and falls.  Over 20% of those slip and falls occurred in the workplace and resulted in multiple days off work.  Even though most falls result in no injuries or minor injuries, falls are actually the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and the second leading cause of spinal cord injuries (SCIs).  Victims who suffer any personal injuries, especially head injuries from a slip and fall, should call our slip and fall lawyers in New York for help with their case.

Here at the O’Connor Law Firm, our catastrophic injury lawyers offer FREE consultations, no upfront costs, and our counsel fees are only paid after we recover compensation for you in a settlement, verdict, or another type of award.  We do this because we understand serious injuries like TBIs, SCIs, broken bones, torn muscles, and other disabling injuries can cause not only physical and emotional harm, but also financial harm to a victim and his or her family.  This is particularly true in slip and fall or trip and fall cases where some people may improperly minimize the seriousness of this type of accident, even though the injuries may be permanent.  If you or a loved one suffered any catastrophic injury such as a head injury from a slip and fall in New York, call our experienced slip and fall lawyers in New York for help.

Understanding Slip, Trip, and Fall Cases

Slip, trip, and fall cases are known as “premises liability” cases, or cases that involve the use, occupancy, or possession of real property such as a home, office, sidewalk, store, or other grounds.  Although generally synonymous, there is a difference between slip and falls, and trip and falls.  This difference is due to the mechanism causing the fall. 

In a slip and fall, an individual steps and loses balance when his or her foot slips, slides, shifts, or otherwise moves due to a lack of friction.  Examples of this type of fall include snow and ice, spills on store floors, leaky AC units, and other slippery conditions.  Many slip and falls cause injuries due to the actual slipping (i.e., torn ligaments in the knee or tib/fib fractures in the ankle) as well as due to the fall itself (i.e., head injuries after a slip and fall).

Whereas in trip and falls, an individual loses balance because of an object or defect that causes him or her to get stuck in, stumble over, or otherwise get caught on.  Examples of this type of fall include holes in the ground, uneven flooring, garbage or debris on the floor, or other defects.  Common injuries in a trip and fall include the same as slips, but also spiral fractures which can occur when the foot is caught in a defect and the body still falls—creating a corkscrew fracture that is incredibly painful and debilitating.

Liability in Slip, Trip, and Fall Cases in New York

Although the differences may appear minor between a slip and fall, and a trip and fall, it can have a bearing on liability.  Generally, the law governing premises liability cases is through the common law, or judge-made law.  Like most personal injury cases, premises liability cases are often based on negligence.  These types of cases are determined on whether a defendant’s conduct was reasonable, or if the defendant acted recklessly, carelessly, or unreasonably in causing foreseeable harm to a victim.

Historically, premises liability cases depended on the status of an entrant.  That meant that there was a different standard of reasonableness for a trespasser, social guest (friend or colleague to your house), or business invitee (customer at a store).  However, the Court of Appeals (the highest court in New York), did away with the classifications of an entrant in the case of Basso v Miller

This case from 1976 created the flexible standard that we use today.  It requires all landowners, possessors, or individuals with control over the premises to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances in maintaining the property.  What is reasonable will naturally evolve with the sentiment of the time and based on the public’s (juror’s) beliefs.

Examples of some conduct that is unreasonable and allows for compensation in a slip, trip, and fall include the following:

  • Not shoveling snow or treating ice on a sidewalk or stairs after several hours
  • Creating uneven flooring or stairs
  • Not fixing defects in flooring, tiling, stairs, or other walking surfaces
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Leaky AC units and refrigeration units
  • Using excessive amounts of soap or wax on flooring
  • Grocery store produce on the floor (wet leaves or crushed grapes)
  • Tracked in rainwater or melted snow in a store
  • Rotted floorboards or decks
  • Bunched up mats or carpets
  • Wires exposed on flooring or across walkways
  • Broken or cracked concrete, and
  • Other types of defects or hazards on the floor that could cause a person to slip, trip, and fall.

Head Injuries From a Slip and Fall 

While there are many different causes of slip, trip, and falls, head injuries are one of the most serious types of personal injuries.  This includes not just a bumped head or facial laceration, but also more serious head injuries such as a traumatic brain injury.  Falls are the leading cause of head injuries in not just young children and elderly individuals, but also in workers and other individuals.  That means that everyone is suspectable to head injuries in a fall.

There are many different types of head injuries that could occur due to a fall, including the following:

  • Concussions
  • Diffuse axonal TBIs
  • Skull fractures
  • Coup-contrecoup TBIs
  • Brain bleeds
  • Cranial nerve injuries
  • Significant lacerations or disfigurements (including loss of hair or visible scars in hairline)
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Whiplash and neck injuries
  • Orbital blowout fractures
  • Hematomas on the head or on the brain
  • Temporomandibular joint injuries (TMJ)
  • Penetrating brain injuries
  • Contusions
  • Intracranial hematomas (also known as ICH)
  • Broken jaw, and
  • Other catastrophic personal injuries that may result in permanent, disabling, or catastrophic injuries to an innocent person.

Compensation for a Head Injury in a New York Personal Injury Accident

Just as there are many different types of head injuries, there are also many different types of damages that a victim and his or her family may recover in a personal injury action.  The term “damages” is a measure of relief that a party in a lawsuit may obtain from the other party.  In personal injury cases, damages are typically monetary compensation for either economic or non-economic losses. 

The difference between economic and non-economic losses is whether the loss can be reasonably calculated, such as lost wages or medical bills (economic damages).  Or whether the losses are based on emotional harm such as pain and suffering—a factor that is subjective to the victim.

Some of the most common types of compensation that a victim suffering a head injury from a slip and fall in New York could recover include the following:

  • Past pain and suffering – emotional harm from the date of the accident to the date of payment
  • Future pain and suffering – estimated emotional harm from the date of payment for the rest of the individual’s expected life
  • Medical bills – both past and future
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost earnings – if unable to earn the same salary or pay due to head injuries, the difference between the older pay and the new pay, multiplied by the number of working years left before retirement (i.e., if making $70,000 before the accident and now only making $20,000 due to your injuries, and you had 20 years before your retirement, the amount could be $50,000 multiplied by 20 years, minus taxes and social security, but adjusted for inflation)
  • Modifications to a home or vehicle
  • Medication costs
  • Nursing case and assistance
  • Punitive damages – in rare and egregious cases of gross negligence that is morally reprehensible
  • Loss of consortium – relations with a spouse, but also general society and affection from everyday interactions with loved ones such as siblings, children, parents, and other close family members
  • Wrongful death damages from a head injury after a slip and fall, and
  • Other damages that were caused in a slip, trip, and fall accident in New York.

Did You Suffer a Head Injury From a Slip and Fall in New York?  Call Our Slip and Fall Lawyer for Help Today

Here at O’Connor Law, we handle head injuries, TBIs, fractures, and other serious or catastrophic injury cases throughout the State of New York, particularly right here in Staten Island, Brooklyn, New York City, The Bronx, Queens, Long Island, and in surrounding areas.  If you have suffered any serious or catastrophic personal injuries in a slip and fall accident in New York, call to schedule your FREE consultation with our bodily injury lawyers by dialing (718) 948-3500 or using our “Contact Us” box available here.  We are here to help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve after a slip, trip, and fall.