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Watch your step! Accidents can happen when least expected. Especially when you are on a ladder, beware of your every footing. In the blink of an eye, your life can take an unexpected turn, leaving you battling not only with physical injuries but also the resonating question—can I sue for the fall from ladder injuries?
In this blog, we plummet deep into the details of a fall from ladder, possible injuries and if you can proceed with a slip and fall lawsuit to get reparation.
Fall from Ladder Statistics
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 160 people lost their lives in ladder-related incidents in 2020. Among these, more than 100 fatalities were linked to movable ladders. Approximately 22,710 non-fatal injuries had the primary cause involving ladders. Fall from ladders is one of the leading causes of fatalities in construction-related jobs.
As per the statistical data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2001-2010, around 81% of the fatal fall injuries among the construction workers involved a ladder. In 2011, around 110 fatal injuries and 34,000 non-fatal injuries were treated in the emergency rooms.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a study on the people injured after falling from the ladder from January 1993 to December 1995. Among the 59 patients included in the study, 36 percent fractures, 27 percent sprains, 24 percent contusion, 10 percent laceration, 3 percent abrasion, and 2 percent subdural hematoma were identified. 79% of the people were injured due to improper ladder placement or overreaching.
The data from the American Ladder Institute shows that among the 500,000 ladder-related injuries treated in the hospitals annually, around 300 turns out to be fatal.
Causes of Fall from Ladders
The most common causes of fall from ladders include human errors, and manufacturing defects. Maintaining the ladders in proper usable condition also matters in minimizing the fatalities and injuries. The most identified causes of ladder injuries are as follows:
- Defective ladders: Ladders with manufacturing defects like loose or damaged rungs make them dangerous.
- Damaged rungs: Ladders not maintained with care may get damaged in time, like the corroded iron makes the rungs weak and unfit to hold weights.
- Ladders placed on uneven floor: Non-fixed ladders placed on soggy and uneven grounds lead to falls.
- Inappropriate ladder type: Choosing the wrong ladders for work also adds its share in leading to falls. Short ladders to work at heights makes one lose the balance and fall. Exceeding the weight limit of the ladders may break the rungs.
- Leaning away from the ladder or overreaching to work: Leaning away from the ladder to reach overhead can make the ladder lose its foothold and slip from its position.
- Improperly secured ladders: Failing to secure the ladders properly to firm or non-slippery surfaces can make the ladder move out of its position.
- Not maintaining three points of contact: while on the ladder, human body should have three points of contact with the ladder, like two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand at the ladder. When you miss even one of the contacts, you may increase the risk of fall.
- Standing on the top rung to work: Never stand on the last two rungs of the ladders. Standing on the top rung makes you lose at least one of your contact with the ladder.
- Missing the stepping on the bottom rung: While climbing down, failing to step on the bottom rung can end in a fall.
- Inappropriately extended ladders: Ladder not extended and locked properly may slip from its place and fall.
Fall from Ladder Injuries
Most fall from ladder incidents result in one or the other kind of injury. The height and injuries do not have any connection. Let’s see the most common outcomes of a fall from ladder.
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spine injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Internal injuries
- Loss of consciousness
According to an analysis done on 168,227 injured people by the NCBI, children and elderly were injured the most from falling from ladder. The analytic study unveiled the most common fractures sustained by the people.
- Lower extremity fractures- 27.3%
- Spine fractures- 24.9%
- Rib fractures- 23.1%
- Upper extremity fractures- 20.1%
- Pelvic fractures- 10.3%.
The study also reveals the following data:
- In- hospital mortality rate- 1.8%
- Intensive care unit admission rate (overall)- 21.5%
- Intensive care unit admission rate (elderly)- 29.1%
- Elderly patients discharged without health services- 50.8%
- Elderly discharged to nursing homes- 16.5%
- People sent to rehabilitation centers- 15.2%
The American Ladder Institute observed the National Ladder Safety Month in March 2023. Its aim is to reduce the number of ladder-related accidents and use of ladders at home and workplaces with utmost safety.
Remember the following while using a ladder:
- Position the ladder on a solid and even ground
- Ensure that the ladder is in good and usable condition
- Select the right size and type of ladder for your work
- Only one person must climb up the ladder at a time
- Avoid using the ladder in front of doors
- Use slip-resistant foot wear to get foot-grip
- Never overreach to work while standing on ladders
- Make sure the ladder is extended and locked properly
- Remember to have three contacts with the ladder
- Avoid carrying tools or objects while climbing on to the ladder
Slip and Fall Lawsuits
All slip and fall lawsuits on ladder-related incidents do not fall under premises liability. Ladder Injury lawsuits can be pursued under different categories, depending on the circumstances of the accidents.
Defective Ladders- Product Liability
If the defective ladder led to the injury, product liability claim can be pursued against the ladder manufacturer, distributor or the seller of the ladder. The plaintiff should prove that the defendants’ negligence in manufacturing or selling the ladder led to the harm of the victim.
- The defendants manufactured or sold a defective ladder
- The defendant owed a duty to the victim and breached the duty
- The victim sustained injury
- The defective ladder led to the harm
Workplace Accidents- Workers Comp
As per the CDC data, one fourth of the workplace injuries were related to ladders and three fourth of the construction-related injuries falls under falling from a ladder.
If a victim gets injured from a fall from ladder at the workplace, his injuries will be covered under worker’s compensation. In workers comp claims, the victim need not prove that the defendant or the employer was at fault.
To get the workers compensation benefits, the victim should file the claim within two years of his injury from ladder. The victim should provide the given details to file the claim:
- The name and address of the firm where he work
- Details of the witnesses at workplace when he fell down the ladder
- Information about the physician and the treatment he availed
- Report on his gross income
The victim can pursue a personal injury claim, if the employer or others intentionally harmed him.
The employer has the responsibility to keep the ladders in good condition. Ladders should be inspected periodically, repaired and protected from metal corrosion and replaced when needed. Failing to do so may land the employer in trouble. If a third party is responsible for the ladder maintenance, they can be sued for being negligent.
In the construction field, falling from ladder can occur from great heights too. Falling from the roof as the ladder slips out of place or falling from higher levels as the ladders kept in scaffolds fall down along with the collapsed scaffolds occur often. In such cases, depending the negligent defendant, the victim can pursue a slip and fall lawsuit under personal injury too.
Injured at Other Premises- Premises Liability
During holiday seasons, decorating the homes with lights becomes a part of the celebrations. Before getting on to a ladder or hiring someone to go up the ladder, ensure your ladder is strong and sturdy. Else, you will be in trouble.
If you have fallen from your ladder in your own property or due to your own negligence, you can’t sue anyone. However, if a person gets injured in your property while using your ladder, which is defective or under-maintained, you can be held liable. If the victim is an intruder or trespasser, you can’t be held liable for his injuries.
If the victim falls down the ladder and sustain injures in businesses premises, the land owners or business owners are liable for the injuries of the victim.
The property owners or the contractors owe the victim a duty. They are responsible to give him strong and flawless ladder and safety gear to work on heights. When they fail in their duty and contribute to your injuries, the victim can file a slip and fall lawsuit against them.
In a premise, if you fall from ladder due to your negligence, can you pursue a slip and fall lawsuit against the premises owner? Definitely! However, your compensation will be reduced as per the comparative negligence law followed in many states. Depending on the degree of your fault, you may get more or less reparation.
Know more about comparative negligence, which can affect the outcome of slip and fall lawsuit, from the given snippet.
Slip and Fall Lawsuits Settlements
A plaintiff working as a construction worker, fell down a ladder during his descend. One of the rungs in the ladder broke and the plaintiff fell on his back, injuring his lumbar discs. For his multiple lumbar disc herniation, he had to undergo extensive therapies, pain medications, lumbar fusion surgeries and spinal disc implants. He filed a lawsuit alleging that the defendants failed to provide a proper ladder and safety gear for the him to work with. He claimed for the present and future medical expenses and lost earnings. The defendants settled the case for a slip and fall settlement worth$4,000,000 just before the trial.
The plaintiff, who was doing independent roofing work for a company, was compelled to go up a ladder to fix the water hose that run along the roof. There was not enough room for him to properly open the A-type step ladder and the surface where the ladder had to be placed was uneven. He had to keep the ladder leaned against the wall and when he was about to reach the top, the ladder shook and fell down leading him to plummet head down onto the concrete floor. The fall from around 19 feet made him lose consciousness.
The plaintiff sustained fractures to his left arm and hip, post-concussion syndrome, persisting headaches, emotional distress, lumbar disc herniation and many fainting episodes thereafter. He had undergone an open reduction-internal fixation procedure on his arm, lumbar disc procedures, and frequent epidural injections. Since the pain did not subside, he had to get a spinal cord stimulator to control his pain.
The plaintiff pursued a slip and fall lawsuit against his employer. Considering the depth and severity of his injuries and the aftermath, the defendants consented for a settlement of more than $5,000,000 during mediation.
A young electrician fell down a ladder while installing electrical conduits on a private property. He was asked to fix the festive lights on the roof by the owner. While working on the ladder, the rung of the ladder broke and he fell down the ladder injuring both his ankles and feet. He had to undergo multiple surgeries on his feet and unable to do his work for a long time. His slip and fall lawsuit won him around $3 million.
To wrap up,
When ascending a ladder, be prudent in each step taken, ensuring the equipment is in optimal working condition. In the event of a fall, promptly seek consultation with a medical professional. Certain injuries may not manifest immediately due to the initial surge of adrenaline, rendering it imperative to address potential harm without delay.
Delay in seeking medical attention can exacerbate the situation and potentially hinder the establishment of a clear connection between the injuries sustained and the fall from ladder incident. Engage the specialized assistance of a ladder injury attorney to fortify your claim.