Have you suffered a slip and fall hand or arm injury? Learn about common symptoms and how to make a claim for your damages.
Slip and fall accidents can injure us in a lot of different ways. While at first glance, a hand or arm injury may not seem as serious as a broken hip or traumatic brain injury, it can still have a significant effect on your life.
Losing the use of one or both hands or arms can be life-altering, even if it’s for a short time. Broken bones can stop you from working or taking care of your family. They can also interfere with basic functions like eating and bathing.
Most often, we suffer slip and fall injuries when a property owner fails to address a dangerous condition on their property. They don’t have to do this intentionally. Negligence and poor maintenance can make a property owner liable.
This article will take a look at the anatomy of your hand and arm, as well as the kind of injuries you can suffer from a slip and fall incident. We’ll also examine how to get fairly compensated, whether from an insurance claim or a court action.
How Slip and Fall Hand and Arm Injuries Happen
Injuries of your hands and arms after slipping and falling are fairly common. Slippery or cluttered floors often contribute to these accidents.
Poor maintenance of floors or walkways can create tripping hazards, as can ice or snow. Sometimes, even overly cleaned floors can present falling hazards, as with slick, over-waxed floors.
The trauma of a slip and fall can cause a variety of injuries all over your body. Broken arms, wrists, or hands are easy-to-imagine consequences of a fall. But these incidents can also cause more complicated injuries, like nerve damage.
Different Types of Hand/Arm Injuries
Sometimes a slip and fall accident can cause a hand or arm injury just by bad luck and how you hit the ground.
Hands and arms are uniquely vulnerable to serious injury because of our natural tendency to stretch out our hands and try to catch ourselves as we fall.
These injuries, known as “fallen onto an outstretched hand” or FOOSH injuries, are among the most common causes of fractures and other types of injuries to the hand, wrist, and arm.
Some common FOOSH injuries:
- Broken arm: Falling can cause you to break one of your three arm bones. These bones are the upper arm bone (humerus) and the two forearm bones (radius and ulna).
- Broken hand: The impact of a slip and fall can also break the tiny and delicate bones in your hand. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes that these fractures must be addressed as soon as possible. If a broken hand does not heal correctly, it can affect you for the rest of your life.
- Broken wrist: A fractured wrist presents increased risk of nerve damage, disability, and arthritis. You can also damage the ligaments in your wrist.
- Related injuries: FOOSH accidents may also hurt other parts of your body, like your shoulder. When seeking medical attention, make sure you are evaluated for rotator cuff injuries or fractures near your upper arm.
Fractures can either be simple (without breaking the skin) or compound (with an open wound, usually caused by bone breaking through the skin).
Symptoms of an arm, hand, or wrist injury may include:
- Tenderness or extreme pain that increases with pressure or attempts to move
- Obvious deformity or dislocation (e.g., your arm or wrist is bent in the wrong direction)
- Stiffness or inability to move your fingers or thumb
- Numbness in hands or fingers
Effects of a Hand/Arm Injury
Because you use your hands for so much in your everyday life, even small changes like nerve damage or loss of full use of your fingers can have a serious effect on your quality of life.
Some professions that require fine motor control may be rendered impossible by a hand or wrist injury, even long after that injury has healed. You may have constant pain or numbness, which can cause sleep deprivation, depression, and a host of related problems. You could also be unable to engage in basic activities of daily living, like buttoning up a shirt or washing your hair.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
But what if you already have a medical problem with your hand, arm or wrist? If you already suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome before you get injured, you may be wondering if you can still win a claim against the property owner who caused your slip and fall injury.
Fortunately, for personal injury cases in the United States, the answer is yes. This is known as the Eggshell Skull Rule.
Let’s say you are an office worker who has suffered with carpal tunnel syndrome for years. Last year, you had surgery to relieve your constant nerve pain, and that surgery was mostly a success. Now, you have slipped and fallen in a puddle of water that was carelessly left in a pet store aisle.
You instinctively try to catch yourself on your hands and suffer a FOOSH injury, breaking your wrist. The break aggravates your nerve issue, causing your old pain to not only come back, but get worse.
The property owner is still liable for your slip and fall even though you had pre-existing injuries that made you more vulnerable to nerve damage in your wrist. That includes the nerve pain that returned and increased as a result of your FOOSH injury.
Proving Your Hand/Arm Injury Claim
These premises liability cases will almost always be brought against the owner or manager of the property where you were injured. While you may eventually file a lawsuit, the first line of defense for the property owner will be their insurance company. In either case, you will need the evidence to prove your slip and fall claim.
The insurance adjuster or court will always need evidence of your medical care. This includes medical bills, opinions, and all other records regarding your injury.
Diagnostic test results are critical. Preferably, you will want test results and examination records from as close to the time of the injury as possible. An X-ray taken during an emergency room visit immediately after an accident will help give an insurance adjuster or jury a clear picture of how you felt immediately after you were injured.
Some common diagnostic tests for hand and arm injuries are:
- CT scan
- Range-of-motion tests/physical examination
Later records showing the necessity for nerve studies, surgery, physical therapy or other medical treatment are also important.
Arm and hand injuries also impact victims’ work and daily lives in a significant way. If your injury affects your ability to work, get witness statements and workplace reports about that disability. If you now miss out on family and recreational activities, collect witness statements and photos to that effect.
Though evidence about your medical condition is vital, do not forget to collect evidence about the accident itself, or the scene of the accident. Pictures, videos or other evidence of the hazardous condition that caused your injury will be important to your claim.
Slip and Fall Hand and Arm Injury Claim Values
Even though most personal injury cases settle out of court, that doesn’t mean that you can afford to skimp on evidence. Regardless of whether you are interested in a lawsuit, get all the information from your doctors that you can. It may persuade an insurance adjuster to see your claim in a more accurate light.
If you don’t have good evidence, you’re not going to get much money for your claim. In that case, don’t expect to get more than $10,000. You’ll probably get even less.
Assuming you have the evidence you need, the value of your claim will largely depend on the treatment necessary for your injury. Non-surgical treatment of a broken arm may cost around $2,500 — expensive, but relatively speaking, not very much. A surgery for a compound fracture could cost more than $15,000. Wrist surgery can cost around $20,000. Hand surgery can cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
Make sure that you also ask for your lost wages and any other amounts you have lost due to your injury. Together, these amounts will be known as your economic damages.
Pain and suffering is also a part of the value of your claim. Add one to two times your treatment costs and other economic damages. In the example of a broken wrist needing surgery, the total claim could be between $80,000 and $120,000.
Arm and hand injuries resulting in permanent pain and disability may lead to litigation and potentially higher compensation. For example, a jury in Gwinnet County, Georgia awarded $2.79 million to a woman who sustained severe wrist injuries from a slip and fall in a Kroger supermarket. The award was upheld on appeal.
Take Control of Your Injury
You might not think about how much you rely on your hands and arms until you have an accident that stops you from using them. When that happens, it’s vital that you get compensated so that you can move on with your life with as little disruption as possible.
If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall accident that resulted in a hand or arm injury, it’s important that you speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact a qualified lawyer in your state today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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