The Basics of Slip and Fall Back Injury Claims

Learn about types and causes of slip and fall back injuries. Find out what your claim might be worth and what you need to win your case.

Along with car accidents, one of the most common types of personal injury claims in the United States is the slip and fall injury. ¹

In a slip and fall claim, the property owner was usually negligent in some way. Perhaps they failed to mop up a puddle of water in the middle of the floor, and someone slips.

Slip and fall injuries are a type of premises liability claim, because they happen when a person is hurt on the property of another.

Back injuries are among the most serious and difficult of injuries that can come about as a result of a slip and fall accident. These injuries can range from sprains and strains, to herniated discs, broken bones or spinal cord injuries. Serious back injuries are painful and can destroy your way of life.

If you’re the victim of a slip and fall, get the facts about back injuries and learn what you can do to get fair compensation for your losses.

How Slip-and-Fall Back Injuries Happen

X-ray result of a person with a spinal injury

Slip and fall back injuries can happen when a business owner or private resident fails to maintain their property in a safe way.

For example, lots of slip and fall accidents happen in hotels. Many people pass through a hotel lobby in a day. Lobbies might have fountains that can leak onto floors. Or, hotel guests may be drinking in the lobby and spill a beverage.

Either way, there is a puddle on the floor. If it’s not cleaned up within a reasonable amount of time, a person walking through that lobby can slip and fall.

Slipping in a puddle of liquid is a common cause of slip and fall back injuries, but it is far from the only cause. Some property owners or businesses may ignore other kinds of unsafe conditions, like merchandise in aisles, ice and snow, tattered rugs, and more.

Accidents don’t just happen at retail or commercial businesses. A city’s failure to maintain its sidewalks can lead to a slip and fall. A homeowner may fail to repair broken porch steps, creating a hazard. If someone in charge of a property fails to take common-sense precautions, it can result in you hurting your back.

Common Types of Back Injuries

The violent impact from a slip and fall can cause damage to any part of your back.

The back is divided into five sections: 

  • Cervical – Neck
  • Thoracic – Roughly from shoulders to waist
  • Lumbar – Lower back
  • Sacrum – Tailbone
  • Coccyx – Tip of the tailbone

Muscles and tendons keep your spine aligned. The bones of the spine, called vertebrae, start below the skull and continue down to your tailbone.

The spinal cord runs through a canal in the vertebrae. Bundles of nerves run from the spinal cord to every part of your body.
spinal cord cross-section

Cushions between your vertebrae, called intervertebral discs, keep the bones from rubbing together and protect the all-important spinal cord and nerves.

Muscle strain and trauma can lead to soft tissue injuries, even if nothing is broken. Though soft tissue injuries (like sprains or other injuries to tendons and ligaments) may be seen as “less serious” by some, they can be very painful and difficult to treat.

A violent impact can also rupture an intervertebral disc and cause pain that radiates to other parts of the body from nerve damage. This nerve damage can require complicated, expensive and risky disc surgery.

A hard fall can also cause a spinal fracture, meaning a fracture of the bones in your spine, more commonly known as a broken back. While most spinal fractures can be treated with medication, braces, and physical therapy, more serious breaks may need surgical repair.

Similarly, acute spinal cord injuries can also happen as a result of a slip and fall. In the most serious cases, spinal fractures squeeze or tear the spinal cord, causing paralysis below the waist or even the neck. Spinal cord injuries can be catastrophic and life-threatening.

Serious slip and fall injuries are high-dollar claims that should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney to protect the victim’s interests.  

No matter the severity of your slip and fall injury, it will have an effect on your life. Maybe you can’t work in the same job that you had before the accident. Worse, if you have suffered a disability, you may not be able to work at all. You may not even be able to live your life in the same way as before.

When considering your slip and fall claim, think about all of the impacts that your injury has had on your life. Even the small things, like not being able to take a walk on the beach because of constant pain, are important. You deserve to be compensated for all your damages, including pain and suffering.

How To Prove Your Injury Claim

The human spine with the name and description of all sites

Whether or not your claim goes to court, you must gather evidence to support your back injury claim.

The most important parts of injury claim evidence are your medical bills and records. No insurance company will compensate you if you never had treatment for your injury. The more information you have about your condition, the better.

You should be compensated for the full cost of all reasonable diagnostic tests and treatments.

You might be treated by more than one type of doctor, like your family doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, and a neurologist.

Diagnostic studies may include one or more: 

  • X-rays
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Nerve Conduction Study

If you have a pre-existing back condition or an old injury, you’ll need to show that your current pain and limitations are directly caused by the slip and fall.

Many times, insurance adjusters or courts will want an expert opinion about your injury. You or your attorney can ask your doctors for a letter or report about your back injury treatment plan and prognosis.

In addition to your medical evidence, gather evidence about how your back injury has affected your quality of life. Pain and suffering is more difficult to quantify, but is a critical part of how your injury has affected your life.

Finally, get evidence showing how your injury has affected your work. Attendance records, performance reviews, and a wage statement from your employer will show the economic consequences of your injury and its intangible effects on your everyday life.

Back Injury Claim Values

Injured woman consulting a lawyer

Most slip and fall cases, including back injury claims, settle out of court. You should always prepare, though, as if your case was going to court.

Preparing for court includes seeking prompt medical treatment, following your doctor’s orders, and collecting high-quality evidence.

Keep in mind that having hard evidence to support your claim is the key to  winning a case with a value of $10,000 or more.

Most injuries will not be so life-altering as to merit a higher than five or six-figure payout. Total damages (medical and non-medical) associated with herniated disc treatment, for example, can run between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on the scope of your injuries.

If you suffer a slip and fall back injury that leaves you paralyzed or partially disabled, you probably won’t get the full value of your claim without filing a lawsuit. However, court cases for severe injuries caused by a negligent business can return verdicts in favor of the victim ranging into millions of dollars.

A sudden slip and fall accident can have serious consequences on your life for months or even years. No matter what, your number one priority must be to obtain the medical care you need and mitigate the effect of the injury on your life.

Once you have done that, you will want to be fully compensated for your losses. Even if you’re inclined to handle your own injury claim, you owe it to yourself to see what a slip and fall attorney can do for you. There’s no obligation, and most attorneys offer free consultations for injury victims.

Matthew Carter, Esq. has been a licensed attorney since 2004. He’s admitted to practice law in California and Nevada, where he was awarded the Martindale.com rating of AV – Preeminent. Matthew has successfully handled a variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases, as well as trials, appeals, and evidentiary hearings throughout state and federal... Read More >>