Slip and Fall Head Injury Claims: What You Need To Know

Learn about common head injuries from slip and fall accidents. You deserve compensation for damages caused by negligent property owners.

Head injuries can be some of the most dangerous and lethal injuries. Slip and fall head injuries can cause concussions, spinal cord injuries, and serious brain damage.

These injuries are not only crippling and life-threatening, but they can also destroy your family’s security and livelihood.

Slip and fall injuries usually happen because a property owner or renter negligently fails to fix a dangerous situation. Even when an injury is not intentional, the owner must still compensate you. In the case of a head injury, the physical and emotional damages can be serious and last a lifetime.

If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall head injury, read on to learn about how these accidents affect the body. This article will also examine how to get fair compensation for your losses. We’ll also look at when legal action may be necessary.

How Slip and Fall Head Injuries Happen

Diagram of the human brain

Slip and fall accidents can happen in a variety of ways. You might slip in a store, restaurant, or hotel due to a wet, slippery floor, especially on rainy or snowy days.

A facility may have failed to put down rugs or pads to absorb the water on the floor, further adding to the hazard.

Or, uneven sidewalks, cords on the floor, and poorly maintained stairs can all cause slips, trips and falls.

What these situations all have in common is the existence of a hazard, or opportunity to slip or trip and cause a serious head injury. These injuries frequently cause death and disability in both adults and small children.

Due to their developing brains, small children are particularly vulnerable to head injuries. Falls are the most common non-fatal injury in this age group, with 2.8 million children treated for these injuries in emergency rooms each year.

Older adults are at the highest risk of suffering from slip and fall injuries. More than one in three adults over the age of 65 fall annually. Aging people often have physical conditions that can contribute to a fall. They may also have sensory problems that make hazards more of a threat. Medications can also magnify the risk of hazards for seniors.

Different Types of Head Injuries

Diagram of different types of head injuries

Head trauma can cause injuries ranging from a minor bruise on the face to life-threatening brain injuries.

Here are some common head injuries from slipping and falling:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): a blow to the head that ranges from a mild concussion to severe permanent brain damage
  • Skull fracture: broken bones in your head
  • Intracranial hematoma (ICH): a blood clot or bruise in or around the brain tissue, typically caused by a TBI when blood vessels break
  • Secondary brain injury: brain swelling after a TBI
  • Spinal cord injury: an impact that damages the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal

Symptoms of head trauma may be immediately apparent after a victim has fallen, like profuse bleeding from the head or face, or may develop in the hours or days after a fall.

Symptoms of head trauma might include:

  • Fluid leaking from the ears or nose
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds or more
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Black-and-blue discoloration of the undereye or behind the ears
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Slurred speech
  • Not breathing
  • Loss of balance

Call 911 to ask for an ambulance if a head injury is suspected. Don’t move the victim unless you need to, and refrain from moving their neck. Have the victim lie down and keep their head and shoulders elevated until the ambulance arrives.

Attempt to stop bleeding by applying pressure with sterile gauze or a clean cloth, but avoid pressure to the skull if there might be a fracture. If the patient is not breathing, coughing or moving, begin CPR.

Effects of a Head Injury

The effects of TBI or other head injuries range from mild to disastrous and life-altering. On the milder end, the patient might experience a few days of headaches and dizziness. More severe symptoms include coma, seizures, loss of body control, and behavioral changes.

Severe head injury claims should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure the best outcome for the victim or their family.  

You don’t need to have the most extreme symptoms for a slip and fall head injury to profoundly affect your life. Concussions, for example, can have lasting effects on brain function and concentration. This can affect your ability to work in certain professions or focus on daily tasks.

Repeated concussions can also cause repetitive head injury syndrome. This results in serious memory problems and dementia-like symptoms even years after the injury.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

The property owner is only responsible for the injury you suffered because of their negligence. But, if your health is such that the head injury you suffered causes you much more damage than it would most people, the property owner is still responsible for that increased damage.

This legal doctrine is known as the “Eggshell Skull Rule” or the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. The rule stands for the idea that if the injured victim was more fragile than the average person, they might suffer more severe harm. The fact that the person was more fragile or had pre-existing conditions does not relieve the at-fault party of liability for the accident.

The “Eggshell Skull Rule” is not just for head injuries. The same rule applies when an elderly or medically fragile person suffers a broken hip or any other kind of injury caused by someone else’s negligence.

In the context of a slip and fall head injury, the injured person may have suffered three concussions years ago. They slip in a puddle of water that the responsible party negligently left on their property. This fourth concussion rocks the person’s already-damaged brain and sends them into a coma.

In this case, the property owner would be responsible for the coma. This is true even if someone with a different medical history would not have suffered a coma from the fall.

Your attorney might use the eggshell skull rule to push back against the insurance adjuster who argues that you wouldn’t have been so severely injured if it weren’t for your age or pre-existing conditions.

Proving Your Head Injury Claim

MRI results

Slip and fall cases are premises liability claims. This means that your claim is against the owner or controller of the property where you were injured.

Regardless of whether you talk to an insurance adjuster or a court, you need to gather compelling evidence to support your slip and fall claim.

First, gather your treatment records. You’ll need medical bills and other documents showing your prognosis. This includes the results of tests and procedures showing the precise nature of your injury.

Some common diagnostic tests are:

Records showing the necessity for surgery, rehabilitation, or other treatment are also important.

Your primary care doctor is an excellent resource because they will be in the best position to tell an insurance adjuster or court about the effects your head injury has had on you.

Head injury patients are often treated by a neurologist. These doctors specialize in disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system. They will have the experience to create the best possible treatment plan and give you an accurate prognosis.

When talking with doctors, remember to discuss any prior head injuries you may have had and how those could be affecting you now. While a property owner is not responsible for past injuries, they are responsible if past injuries make your current injury more severe.

Remember also that, apart from medical evidence, you will also need to gather evidence about the accident itself. Pictures, videos, or other evidence of the hazardous condition that caused your injury will be important for both an insurance company and a court to consider.

Slip and Fall Head Injury Claim Values

Injured elderly man in a wheelchair being assisted by his nurse

Though the vast majority of claims settle out of court, severe, high-dollar injuries are more likely to proceed to litigation. In either case, you’ll need to gather strong evidence.

Work closely with your doctors to ensure that you are receiving the best treatment and getting the best information.

Having hard evidence is the top factor in being able to maximize your compensation. Without it, it’s unlikely that your claim will even get $10,000.

Assuming you have the evidence and your doctors backing you up, what can you expect to receive in a settlement or verdict for your head injury? There are numerous kinds and degrees of head injuries, so offering a general answer is very difficult.

Most cases will not be serious and will settle for an amount between $10,000 and $50,000.

The value of your case depends on the severity of your injury, its treatment, and whether an insurance adjuster believes you will sue. More serious injuries with better documentation will almost always get better offers.

Neurological surgery can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000. Related treatment may cost another $50,000. Assuming you have other treatment options and therapy as well, the medical costs for a head injury alone can easily exceed $250,000 in serious cases.

Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, will usually be calculated as one or two times your economic damages. For the above example, this could equal another $500,000.

In the case of catastrophic injuries that go to court, it’s possible to add three to five times your economic damages, maybe more. Wrongful death, paralysis, or permanent brain damage may get a jury verdict in the millions of dollars.

A recent example is the case of  Angela Willauer, who suffered a serious concussion and memory loss after a slip and fall in an icy parking lot. Willauer’s attorney settled her injury case for $2.15 million with the Town of Greenwich after a long court battle.

Take Care of Yourself After an Injury

Head injuries should always be taken seriously. If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall head injury, first take the needed steps to ensure safety and health, including getting appropriate medical attention. Then, contact a qualified personal injury attorney in your state for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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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 >>