The Science of Slipping and Tripping

The Science of Slipping and Tripping

Personal injury actions oftentimes involve the testimony of expert witnesses who have specialized knowledge in particular subjects. These experts can help plaintiffs meet their burden of having to prove that the forces applied by the defendant’s action (or inaction) caused or substantially contributed to the injury. Conversely, defendants may try to poke holes in the case by using experts to show that the forces were insufficient to cause the injury, or that the forces from some other event or activity better explain the injury. Both parties can benefit from experts qualified to analyze injury mechanics.

Experts in biomechanics study the structure and movement of the human body, and know how to apply engineering principles to the failure of biological tissue. Injury-related accident analysis examines the forces and speeds that are involved in how people move as well as the relationship between forces and injuries. While slips and trips tend to result in similar types of injuries, a thorough analysis of those injuries can lead a skilled biomechanical expert to answers on how exactly the person fell – and that can make all the difference in a successful personal injury lawsuit.

Important evidence in slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall cases is often lost due to frequent changes in floor coverings and floor maintenance.

Biomechanical experts can be critical in recreating an incident and establishing cause and effect. Such experts will work to gain an overall understanding of what happened, an understanding of the injuries sustained, and an understanding of the relationship between the accident and the injuries.

Injuries resulting from slip, trip, and fall accidents are not limited to a single region of the body and may include injuries to the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and head. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.5 million nonfatal falls were treated in emergency departments in 2013, and 25,500 older adults died from unintentional falls that year. Slips, trips, and falls also constitute the majority of general industry accidents – and they cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Further, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that floors and flooring materials contribute directly to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.

In a recent Georgia slip and fall case, a court ruled that an expert’s testimony was especially useful because of his past studies and his expertise involving the biomechanics of falling accidents. The plaintiff claimed she had tripped and fallen on an uneven portion of a concrete walkway connecting a bank and a parking lot. The expert found that even though the bank had ground down the section of the walkway where the accident happened, there was still three-fourths of an inch difference in elevation. The defendant sought to exclude the expert’s opinion. Citing the expert’s methodologies and qualifications, the court allowed the expert to testify that the walkway was a substantial tripping hazard, that no act or omission by the plaintiff caused her accident or injuries, and that her injuries were of a type that would be consistent with a trip and fall.

Our firm knows when to retain biomechanical experts and how best to use their talents in your case. If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have received an injury in a slip and fall or trip and fall, the Macon personal injury attorneys of the Mann Law Firm can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. Call us today at (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form.