Slip-and-fall accidents are extremely common, especially in restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Anywhere that liquids can be spilled or leaked is a prime environment for you to take a tumble and injure your knee. Because the knee is a critical joint for nearly every activity, recovering compensation that ensures you have what you need to fully recover is a priority.
Common Knee Injuries
While liquids can cause slip-and-fall accidents, uneven flooring or unsecured rugs can also send a person falling to the floor. The knee is very flexible, but it is not meant to move in certain ways or absorb significant impact. Your joints are critical to your current and future health, and injured hips and knees can drastically reduce your mobility and vitality.
Some common knee injuries that can affect you after a slip-and-fall include:
Lacerations and abrasions
The skin can be cut or suffer a rash. While this seems minor, if foreign objects such as glass, gravel, sand, or chemicals enter the damaged skin, you could suffer burns or infection.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) can be damaged if the knee is bent backward, twisted, or jerked from side to side. Invasive surgery is usually required, followed by a significant recovery time.
If you fall forward, you will often land on your hands and knees. The kneecap (patella) takes the brunt of this and can fracture, causing severe swelling and pain. Fractures usually require surgery.
The knee is easily sprained with sudden twisting, especially when it forces the joint out of its usual range of movement. Sprains can leave you with stiffness and swelling.
A torn meniscus can cause stiffness and limit your ability to extend your leg. These two C-shaped pieces of cartilage in the knee form a protective cushion between the shinbone and thighbone.
While this usually happens in high-impact accidents like car crashes, any slip-and-fall situation has the potential to force the thighbone out of alignment with the shinbone. Dislocated knees can result in nerve or blood vessel damage.
The muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding and attaching to the knee are easily torn or damaged by shearing forces or trauma. This can happen in mere seconds when you fall. You can suffer an immediate injury, but knee pain often appears or worsens later in many cases as the full scope of your damage is realized. Additionally, you can be left with lifelong pain and inflammation that you must treat and take care not to aggravate.
Knee Injury Treatment and Care
After a knee injury from a slip-and-fall, it’s critical to seek medical assistance immediately. Many stores may have first aid kits and personnel with some emergency training, but the best choice is to call 911 for help. Stay still and remain calm, taking photos of your injuries and the scene of the accident for documentation. When help arrives, follow their direction before moving or trying to walk. Many knee injuries can be severely worsened by trying to get up and leave the area.
After your initial assessment, you may be taken to the hospital or told to see your physician for a follow-up. If you go home and must wait to see a doctor, follow these steps to minimize the inflammation and damage:
- Avoid walking unless necessary.
- Rest your knee by sitting or lying down and placing a pillow underneath the joint.
- Keep the knee elevated.
- Apply ice packs to the knee to reduce inflammation.
- Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Once your doctor has treated you, follow all their recommendations for limiting movement and strengthening the knee. If surgery is needed, try to delegate any tasks or work to others so you can prepare for the operation and be able to rest afterward. Taking the appropriate amount of time to heal can mean the difference between returning to your normal use of your knee and a lifetime of recurring knee injury and pain.
Who Is At Fault for Your Knee Injury?
If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you likely have the basis of a strong personal injury claim against those responsible. If a store owner fails to recognize and repair a hazard, they have failed to provide a safe environment for their customers. Some ways this can happen are:
- Spilled liquids that aren’t cleaned up quickly
- Leaks from faulty equipment that isn’t repaired or maintained
- Broken or uneven flooring, such as tiles or bricks
- Unsecured rugs or carpets
- Insufficient lighting in a hall or bathroom
- Unsafe staircases or escalators
- Icy sidewalks in front of the premises
- Debris or potholes in parking lots
By gathering evidence such as photos, store camera video, witness statements, and medical records, you and an experienced slip-and-fall accident attorney may be able to demonstrate that the owner met the four elements of negligence. Proving these is required to successfully claim damages against the person at fault.
The four elements are:
- The store owner had a duty of care to their customers.
- They failed or breached that duty of care to you.
- You suffered injuries directly resulting from their failure.
- You incurred expenses related to your injuries.
You may file a claim against the owner’s insurance or initiate a lawsuit to recover your losses. These could include more than just your medical bills and lost wages. Your lawyer can advise you on seeking non-economic damages, such as for the pain and suffering you experience.
Don’t take chances with a knee injury after a slip-and-fall accident. Your livelihood and ability to enjoy life could be at stake.