Help! … I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Find My Lawyer’s Phone Number!

Help! … I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Find My Lawyer’s Phone Number!

“Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” has become part of our regular lexicon these days. This is because, as we all know, the population in general is getting older and living longer than ever before. Along with a longer life span comes the ever-increasing danger and risk of falling, with resultant personal injuries.

There are many reasons for the fact that, the older we get, the more likelihood that we’ll take a spill. There are reasons for biology, anatomy, physiology and even the plain old laws of physics. Experts tell us that the skeletal structure and the physics of walking mean that we are at ever-present risk of falling! Thanks to the sensitivity of the nerves on the bottom of our feet, signals are sent to our brain to keep us upright, whether we are moving or keeping still.

Falls, then, can occur due to the shortcomings and failures of our own physical bodies. Adding to the risk, however, are any number of exterior factors. Objects on the ground immediately come to mind; even environmental conditions can add to the danger of taking a tumble like Humpty Dumpty.

Some of the more common triggers causing falls include: inadequate lighting; scampering dogs or other pets; potholes; loose debris in unexpected places; dangling cords; food or beverages spilled but not cleaned up; loose carpets (a big danger to seniors!); thresholds; loose stairs; untreated snow and ice; I’m sure you can add your own to this list. It makes you think that we shouldn’t even leave the house in the morning!

The consequences of a fall can range from the embarrassing, to the ridiculous, to the debilitating. Hey, the Three Stooges became rich and famous at it! …as did Bugs Bunny!

On a more somber note, a serious spill, at any age, young or old, can be life changing for the victim of the fall, as well as for his loved ones. A spill that puts you on crutches, lands you in a wheelchair, or in a hospital bed or rehab facility, can have immediate and long term personal, family, and financial effect.

The victim may be unable to continue working; might lose his income, therefore; unable to keep up with regular living expenses, never mind major medical bills. Even family ties and relationships can suffer from the effects of serious falls.

Legally speaking, we might group injures from falls under the general heading of personal injuries. Someone who falls due to the fault of someone else, be it negligent or intentional, will be inclined to sit down with his attorney. After all, this is America, the most litigious nation on the Earth. If you do consult with a lawyer, one of the first issues you and he will need to address is that of statutes of limitation. These statutes are laws which set the time period by which a lawsuit for a personal injury must be filed with the appropriate court. Two or three years to file a suit is a common statute of limitations time period across the nation. Your attorney will know, or will do the research to find out, what the statute of limitations is for your jurisdiction where you suffered the injury.

Like many things in law (and maybe in life as well) it’s easy to state the concept of a statute of limitations in words but might be more of a sticky wicket to figure out in practice. So, for example, if the statute gives you two years to sue but you’re in a coma for two years, how does that play into the statutory time period? What if one doctor opines that your injury is not from your fall; the period comes and goes and along comes doctor number two who has a contrary opinion, saying your injury was, in fact, from your spill; now what? What if your injury from the fall is latent and doesn’t manifest itself until after the time to file suit has passed? What if you didn’t sue in time because the injury was so minor (or so you thought) and then worsens and becomes major in nature? What if you had a preexisting injury where you fell and didn’t realize until it’s too late that you suffered a new injury? …and do you sue when you fell or when you realized you were injured?

Ahh, the wonderful, mysterious entanglements of the law. They keep us lawyers up at night.

It’s Winter in New England. Snow, sleet, ice, salt, sand, potholes, debris, road construction, sunset at 4 PM. Be careful, folks, we wouldn’t want you to fall.

PS …but if you do, make sure you have my phone number with you.




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