Walking on snow or ice when it’s cold outside can be an difficult endeavor. Thousands of people suffer serious injuries every year because they lose their footing in icy or slippery conditions. Whether they occur in the workplace, at home, or anywhere else, winter slip and fall accidents are all-too-common.
Ice-related Slip & Fall Injury Causes & Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 1 million Americans are injured, and 17,000 people die, as a result of slip and fall injuries every year. According to one study, slip and fall injury rates increase significantly as temperatures decline, with most injuries resulting from contact with outside services.
About half of all people injured in slip and fall injuries are walking on level ground when they slip. These types of injuries are also a significant danger to seniors. About one out of every three people age 65 or older will fall each year.
Slip and fall injuries in cold and icy conditions tend to occur because of one of two main reasons. First, slippery surfaces caused by melting snow, slush, sleet, or ice can make walking, and even standing, much more dangerous. Second, the repeated thawing and freezing of ice and water can cause walking surfaces to buckle and crack. These impediments often go unnoticed when concealed under snow or ice, making them all the more dangerous.
Ice-related Slip & Fall Injury Types
Slip and fall injuries caused by icy conditions can cause a range of injuries. Like other slip and fall accidents, these injuries can range in severity, and typically fall into one of several categories.
Muscle Sprains and Ligament Strains – Also known as pulled or torn muscles, muscle sprains and ligament strains occur when muscle tissue or tendons are stretched too far and suffer damage as a result. Ankle injuries are the most common, but other commonly sprained areas include the lower back, the hamstring muscle, and wrists. Strains and sprains are categorized by degree, with first degree being the mildest, second degree being moderate, and third degree being severe. Mild injuries commonly result in little more than pain and swelling, while more significant injuries can result in lifetime disability and loss of movement.
Herniated Discs – A herniated disc, sometimes called a ruptured or slipped disc, can also result from a slip and fall injury. Most herniated discs affect the lower back, but all areas of the spine are subject to these types of injuries. In a herniated disc injury, the soft disc separating spinal vertebra become damaged. That damage can be minor or severe, but even minor injuries can cause significant pain. People who suffer lower back injuries can often mistake muscle and ligament injuries in the lower back area for herniated discs.
Compression Fractures – For seniors who suffer slip and fall injuries in icy weather, one of the most common injuries suffered is the compression fracture. Compression fractures occur to the vertebrae, and like other broken bones, are very painful. Seniors with osteoporosis are most at risk for developing a compression fracture. Though relatively uncommon, spinal cord and nerve damage are possible in severe cases. Such damage can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury due to icy conditions, and you believe negligence is involved, do not hesitate to consult a local personal injury attorney right away.