The majority of fatal injuries caused by trauma in the United States are caused by motor vehicle accidents, firearms, and falls. While auto accidents have long been the leading cause of trauma-related deaths, new data shows that falls are on pace to overtake car accidents as the top cause of fatalities. This data should be a wake-up call to nursing homes as well as to public places that will increasingly be catering to an older clientele.
Falls are already far too common and cause thousands of deaths every year. As baby boomers age, they become at greater risk of a fall because of balance issues and decreasing vision. Slip and fall accident lawyers in Delaware Valley know that the risk of serious injury for older people also increases because seniors often have frailer bodies and brittle bones, which means they are more likely to experience a broken hip or other more serious injury from a fall. To protect seniors and to avoid the potential for increased liability, nursing homes need to institute better fall protection methods and public places need to prepare to make their facilities more accommodating to seniors.
Fall Injuries Becoming the Top Cause of Death
There has been a dramatic shift in recent years related to the percentage of deaths caused by falls versus the percentage of deaths caused by auto accidents. In 2002, falls caused six deaths for every 100,000 people while car accidents caused 16 deaths. By 2010, car accidents were causing 12 deaths for every 100,000 people while falls were causing nine.
The decrease in deaths caused by car accidents may be largely explained by better in-vehicle safety devices and by a strong focus on accident prevention. While the research did not specifically look at the reason that deaths due to falls were on the rise, the aging population and the increased fragility of fall victims were cited as possible explanations.
The dramatic change suggests the urgency of taking more steps to prevent falls. As Pain Medicine News reports, the rate of deaths due to falls increased 46 percent over just eight years. Those who should pay special attention to this data include:
- Nursing homes: The CDC reports that 1,800 senior residents of nursing homes die annually because of fall injuries. Nursing homes could be held liable for falls caused by neglect or abuse. Staff should be properly trained in fall protection and homes should be designed to reduce the risk of falls among seniors who may have balance and mobility issues.
- Stores, restaurants and hotels: Consolidated Floor Safety reports that falls are the leading cause of injuries that take place in hotels, stores and restaurants annually. Public places that open their doors to customers need to ensure they do not allow hazards such as slippery floors or broken stair railings to cause their patrons to fall.
- Employers: The NFSI indicates that falls cause around 16 percent of work-injury claims and 26-percent workers’ compensation expenses. While employers cannot be sued for on-the-job accidents, they still have a responsibility to ensure a safe workplace and try to protect their employees from being hurt in a fall.
If everyone does their part to reduce the risk of falls, deaths due to trauma could decline and the public as a whole could be significantly safer.
Flager & Associates represents clients throughout the Delaware Valley. Call 215-953-5200 today to schedule your free consultation.