A Lancaster County slip and fall accident usually occurs because a property owner doesn’t take care of his or her building, leading to the development of hazardous conditions like crumbling stairs or broken support railings.  Everyone knows that falling can hurt you – but did you also know that falls rank as the number one cause of two common, potentially fatal injuries?

Slip and Fall Accidents Responsible for 95% of Hip Fractures in Seniors

Anyone can be seriously injured by a slip and fall accident.  However, due to factors like diminished bone density, poor balance, and impaired vision, older adults – defined by the CDC as individuals aged 65 and up – are at greatly increased risk.  According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental falls send at least 2.5 million older adults to U.S. emergency departments every year.

About 10% of these older adults – approximately 250,000 people – are hospitalized specifically for hip fractures.  In fact, accidental falls are responsible for nearly all hip fractures in the elderly U.S. population: over 95% of all reported cases.  Women are disproportionately affected due to having lower bone density than men, suffering hip fractures at about three times the rate of their male counterparts.

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It’s obvious that hip fractures are painful to live with and costly to treat, with a full hip replacement in Pennsylvania racking up expenses ranging anywhere from about $19,500 to about $25,700.  But what many people don’t realize is that hip fractures also significantly increase the risk of death, particularly within the first year after the injury.

This fact was confirmed by a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation in 2010.  After analyzing over 750 patients aged 60 and up, researchers conducting the study arrived at some alarming conclusions:

“In usual care, the reported one-year mortality after sustaining a hip fracture has been estimated to be 14% to 58%.  The relative risk of mortality in the elderly patient population increases 4% per year…  Women sustaining a hip fracture had a five-fold increase and men almost an eight-fold increase in relative likelihood of death within the first three months [of a hip fracture].”

Another, more recent study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research even calculated the average years of life lost because of a broken hip:

“On average, the hip fracture contributed to 0.9 years of life lost in women and 2.7 years in men.  The potential years of life lost associated with the hip fracture was especially pronounced in older men (>75 years), with an average loss of 47% of the expected remaining lifetime.”

The problem is already widespread, as CDC statistics attest – and as the U.S. population continues to age, it’s only going to get bigger.

Accidental Falls Ranked #1 Cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in the U.S.

While every organ has an important function, no single component of the human body could be more crucial than the brain.  From managing involuntary physical functions to processing complex abstract data, the brain directs our every thought and activity, ensuring coordination between body systems and helping to maintain the internal conditions we need to live.

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While certain organs can be repaired, replaced, or even removed altogether, even minor physical damage to the brain can have catastrophic consequences, often depriving the victim of their independence, mobility, and even their pre-injury personality.  Depending on factors like its size, location, and severity, a traumatic brain injury or TBI can have the following impacts:

  • Loss of basic cognitive (thought-/perception-related) functions, such as learning, problem-solving, memorization, focus, and decision-making.
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating ideas clearly.
  • Loss of physical sensation, such as pressure or temperature.
  • Chronic pain and/or recurring migraines.
  • Difficulty balancing and moving around.
  • Urinary and/or fecal incontinence.
  • Auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions, similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • Severe depression, anxiety, insomnia, and changes to personality.
  • Increased risk of having a stroke or developing Alzheimer’s disease.

TBI can have numerous causes, most of which have nothing to do with falling – for instance, a truck or car accident.  However, according to the most recent CDC data available, falls were the number one cause of TBI in the United States from 2006 to 2010, accounting for 40.5% of all TBIs leading to hospitalization, emergency department visits, or death during that time period.  Certain segments of the population are at even higher risk, with falls causing about 55% of all TBIs in children up to age 14, and more than 80% of all TBIs in older adults.  (For comparison’s sake, the second leading cause of TBI from 2006 to 2010 – being struck by or against objects – accounted for just 15.5% of cases.)

Severely Injured and Not Sure If You Have a Case? Contact Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney Brent Wieand

If your parent fractured their hip after falling on someone else’s property, or if one of your loved ones sustained a traumatic brain injury, your family could have a right to compensation.  Call Berks County fall injury attorney Brent Wieand at (800) 481-5206 to set up a free, friendly, and completely confidential legal consultation today.

***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes.  It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice.***