Falling can completely derail your day and, in some cases, your life. Whether you slip on wet flooring as you try to navigate your way around a store or suffer a fall because of faulty stairs, serious injuries can occur in the most mundane places. Sometimes, you may immediately recognize that you have sustained serious injuries. However, in many cases, you may not realize the extent of the damage.
How do you know that you need medical treatment following a fall? When should you treat it as a serious accident, and when can you brush yourself off and move on?
For the most part, if you suffer a fall at all, you should always report it to the facility where the fall occurred so that you can create a record of the accident. Even if you think you did not suffer serious injuries when you get up after the accident, you may later discover that you sustained more significant injuries than you thought.
If you show these signs of potential injury, you should seek medical treatment immediately:
1. You have ongoing pain.
Any time you hit the ground unexpectedly, you may experience an immediate flare of pain. Sometimes, that pain may remain minor. Other times, you may find yourself dealing with much more severe pain. If the pain does not resolve quickly, or if pain shows up after the adrenaline from the accident wears off, you should pursue medical attention. You could have broken bones, a sprain or strain, or a muscular injury.
Back pain can occur after even a minor fall, especially if you already have underlying conditions. However, if you experience increased back or neck pain, seek medical attention and a full evaluation to ensure you have not suffered more serious injury than you think.
2. You experience sudden, sharp pain.
Broken bones and other serious injuries often involve sudden, sharp pain. You may notice that even light pressure or movement of an affected limb or body part causes pain. If you notice sharp signs of pain, you should always seek medical attention immediately.
In the case of broken bones, you may notice other signs of injury: a limb that seems out of shape, for example, or bone piercing or pressing against the skin. However, not all broken bones include visible symptoms, especially if you have cracked a bone. Furthermore, broken bones like hips may not seem evident outwardly but may still cause substantial pain.3. You have obvious swelling anywhere on your body.
Swelling often indicates injury, and you should pay close attention to any signs of swelling or disfigurement. Sometimes, swelling could indicate a broken bone. Other times, it could indicate a serious sprain or strain. You may not notice swelling when you first get up off the ground after a fall, but you may see that swelling increase throughout the day, often becoming increasingly painful. You may also notice swelling when you first wake up the following day.
4. You have signs of a head injury.
If you hit your head during a fall, you should always seek medical attention promptly. While some signs of a head injury may make themselves evident immediately, in cases of minor brain injury, you may not immediately show signs that someone else can identify.
Signs of brain injury can vary depending on the extent of the injury.
#1. Blurred vision, tunnel vision, or other visual changes
Frequently, head injuries result in vision changes. Some victims notice blurred vision, while others have tunnel vision. If you have any visual changes after hitting your head in a fall, you should immediately seek medical attention, even if those symptoms seem to resolve. A medical professional can let you know if you have sustained severe injuries.
#2. Ringing in your ears
In addition to causing visual changes, head injuries may disrupt your hearing. You may notice your ears ringing or find it more difficult than usual to hear. If you have ongoing changes to your hearing, just like in the case of disturbed vision, you should let a medical professional evaluate you.
Head injuries do not necessarily always cause headaches. The brain itself does not have pain receptors, which means that you may not notice symptoms of brain injury as pain. However, some types of head trauma can cause a headache, including an ongoing headache. You may also feel pressure in your head, resulting from brain swelling.
#4. Dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance
If you suffer from dizziness or vertigo after hitting your head in a fall, it could indicate that you sustained a severe head injury. Ongoing dizziness and vertigo should receive prompt medical attention.
#5. Confusion or disorientation
If you feel disoriented, confused, or catch yourself forgetting things you would normally remember, it could indicate that you sustained head trauma in your fall. See a doctor to discuss any cognitive symptoms so that you can receive a full medical evaluation as soon as possible.
5. You have new back pain.
An estimated 8 percent of adults suffer from chronic back pain. If you do not notice changes in your usual pain following your fall, you may not need to receive a new medical evaluation, though you may want your doctor to look into your injuries.
On the other hand, if you suffer from an increase in back pain, or you did not suffer from back pain in the past, but you do after the accident, you should pursue medical attention as soon as possible. Back pain could indicate an injury ranging from whiplash or muscle strain to a herniated disc. A doctor can identify the cause of your back pain and provide you with strategies that can help you minimize further pain and injury.
6. You suffer any severe laceration.
Depending on why your fall occurred and the scene of the accident, you may come into contact with various sharp objects that could lead to lacerations. Serious lacerations may require immediate medical attention to stop the flow of blood. Have a doctor evaluate serious lacerations to reduce the risk of infection. In some cases, you may need a tetanus shot or other treatment. Furthermore, prompt medical treatment can help reduce scarring.
7. You suffer from stomach pain after your accident.
Stomach pain may feel unconnected to a fall, especially if you landed on another part of the body. However, stomach pain could indicate internal damage, including serious internal bleeding.
Furthermore, stomach pain could include referred pain from elsewhere in the body. If you find yourself suffering from stomach pain after a fall, do not attempt to wait it out. Instead, seek immediate medical attention. Tell the doctor about the source of your pain and the fall.
8. Your accident led to substantial bruising.
Sometimes, you may walk away from a fall, feeling that you likely did not suffer serious injury, but discover later that you have substantial bruising. In some cases, bruising can just indicate a high level of trauma, including a few broken blood vessels.
However, bruising could also indicate other, more severe injuries, including sprains and strains or internal bleeding. While mild bruising might go unnoticed, if you do have more serious bruising, make sure you have a medical professional evaluate your injuries and rule out any more serious symptoms.
9. You have any limitations in movement.
After a fall, you may expect a little stiffness. However, if soreness restricts your movement, see a medical professional. Stiffness should resolve quickly with stretching and moving around. If you cannot work out that stiffness, get a doctor to evaluate you. Furthermore, if you have stiffness after the accident, it could indicate a more serious injury, and a doctor should look further into it.
You should also see a doctor immediately if you have limitations in movement due to pain, including pain from bruising or an unexpected source. Keep in mind that not all injuries will show themselves immediately, so if you wake up the morning after a fall suffering from serious pain or struggling with movement limitations, you may need to see your doctor.
Some injuries, including broken hips or other broken bones in the legs, spinal injuries, or back injuries may also make it difficult to move immediately after the accident. You may find it difficult to get up at all. If you have pain or notice mobility limitations, you may need to call for an ambulance.
10. You do not feel “right” in any way.
Medical care professionals exist to provide peace of mind when it comes to your medical needs, including caring for your injuries after a fall. If you have suffered any trauma in a fall, and you feel “off” or uncertain, you should have a medical care professional evaluate you as soon as possible. A medical evaluation can provide peace of mind and identify any injuries that you might have missed in your initial assessment, making you feel more confident, overall, about your care moving forward.
When Should You Seek Medical Treatment After a Fall?
Medical treatment can prove critical to your ability to file a personal injury claim after a fall. Not only that, medical treatment helps ensure that you have the care you need to recover as much as possible from your injuries.
When should you seek medical treatment?
If You Notice Symptoms Immediately
If you notice symptoms immediately after your fall, see a medical care provider immediately. Sometimes, in the case of acute injuries, you may need to bring in an ambulance to help you get to the nearest hospital. After minor injuries, you may want to rely on a friend or family member’s transportation to avoid ambulance fees.
Judge your injuries carefully. In some cases, moving could worsen your injuries, extending your recovery time and leading to more severe consequences. If you think you may worsen your injuries by moving, summon an ambulance.
If You Do Not Have Clear Symptoms
Sometimes, you may fall, but not notice immediate symptoms of injury. You may assume that you did not suffer serious injury and get up and go about your day as usual, especially if you already had other things to do. Even if you do not have clear injury symptoms, however, if you have a hard fall, get a professional medical evaluation right away. If you do have serious injuries, you do not want to risk those injuries going untreated.
If You Notice Symptoms Later
You assumed, after your fall, that you had not suffered serious injuries. Later, however, symptoms start to creep in. Now what? If you start to notice symptoms after the fall, even minor ones, get a medical evaluation as soon as you can.
Some injuries, including back injuries and head injuries, may show symptoms long after the initial accident. Seek medical attention as soon as you can to make it easier to prove when your injuries took place. You may also find that seeking medical attention as soon as you notice symptoms can decrease their overall impact and lead to a better recovery.
A Lawyer Can Help After Your Fall
If you suffer a fall accident due to another party’s negligence, you may have the right to a personal injury claim. Whether you notice injury symptoms immediately after a fall or symptoms appear shortly after your accident, contact a slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you learn more about your right to compensation, from whether you have the right to file a personal injury claim to how to maximize your ability to recover the compensation you deserve.