New York winters bring frigid temperatures plus plenty of dangerous precipitation, including ice, freezing rain, snow, and sleet. Parking lots and sidewalks can be particularly dangerous in the winter months. You may not notice a sheet of ice on the surface until you’ve already lost your footing and slipped on ice.
Once you start to go down, there’s not much you can do.
If you slipped on ice at your workplace, you’re not alone. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 42,480 workplace injuries in 2014 happened because of ice, snow, or sleet.
When you fall on ice, you may end up with anything from minor bruising to a broke bone or even a head injury. Some fall injuries are life-threatening.
Your next steps are crucial to a fast recovery. Getting necessary medical treatment can minimize the long-term effects of the fall. You may also qualify for financial compensation depending on the circumstances of the fall.
Read our guide for dealing with icy falls to determine what you should do next.
The extent of slip and fall injuries can vary depending on where you fall and how you land.
Your age and physical condition can also play a role. If you’re older and have less bone density, you may be at a higher risk for a fracture.
A minor fall may just leave you bruised and sore. The pain should go away in a few days, and you won’t likely need extensive medical treatment.
But it’s still a good idea to get check out by a doctor to be safe. There may be hidden issues that you don’t notice immediately.
Fractured bones can happen when you hit the ground hard. Many people break their wrists in falls because they try to catch themselves.
But you can fracture any bone when you fall, depending on which body parts hit the ground. You could fracture your leg, arm, hip, back, or skull.
If you land on your buttocks, you could experience a compression fracture in your back. That happens when your spine takes the force of the fall.
If you fracture your skull or spine, you may have an extensive recovery time after the fall. Spinal cord injuries are also a possibility. if the injury involves your back or neck.
Any type of fracture takes weeks to heal. Being in a cast may interfere with your work duties and your day-to-day tasks.
Dislocations can also happen when you fall. You might dislocate your hip, shoulder, or other joints when you land.
A dislocation happens when a sudden impact pushes your joint out of its normal position. You can’t use the joint until it’s returned to its normal position. You may have lingering pain while the joint recovers.
Another serious injury risk is a traumatic brain injury. If your head hits the ground or a nearby structure, it can cause brain damage. Some brain injuries are minor, and others are life-altering.
The obvious effect of falling on ice is the immediate injury. You’ll likely feel the pain from the injury, but you’ll also experience other effects.
Receiving treatment for the injury results in medical bills. Even with health insurance, you’ll likely have copays and coinsurance to pay.
If you have a serious injury that requires setting a broken bone, having X-rays, spending time in the hospital, or going to therapy, your bills add up even more.
Another financial burden is missed time at work if the injury is severe. If you have sick leave, it should cover your time off. But if you have a serious injury that requires a long recovery, you may run out of leave before you’re ready to return to work.
Long-term effects of the injury can interfere with your daily activities or your work duties. Some injuries may cause long-term or permanent changes to your mobility.
Say you tear a ligament in your knee when you fall. You may have pain or decreased mobility in the joint. If you suffer a spinal injury, you may have a significant decrease in mobility or even paralysis.
A fall on the ice doesn’t seem serious, but it can be life-changing if the injuries are severe.
Can you file an insurance claim against for an icy fall to cover your costs? That depends on the circumstances.
You need proof that your fall was someone else’s fault for a regular liability insurance claim.
First, you need to make sure you fell on your company’s property. Does your employer actually own the property where you fell?
If the city or another business owns the parking lot where you fell, your company’s workers’ compensation policy likely won’t cover your injuries.
Next, the weather conditions are a factor. To be held liable for your injuries, your employer has to be negligent.
If it’s still snowing, sleeting, or otherwise precipitating, the company likely won’t be held liable. It’s not reasonable to expect your employer to keep the sidewalks and parking lots clear when freezing rain is still falling.
Even if the precipitation stopped, it may be too soon to expect them to clear it. Freshly fallen snow or ice may not be covered.
The fall may be covered under your company’s workers’ compensation policy. In that case, you don’t have to prove liability to have the fall covered. But the area where you fell will need to be owned by or controlled by your employer for the workers’ compensation to cover it.
It’s worth trying to file a workers’ compensation claim to get your medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs covered.
Unless you’re severely injured, your first instinct may be to hop up and get out of there. It can be embarrassing to fall.
But don’t rush away yet. Documenting the circumstances of the fall is very important to your case if you can file an insurance claim.
Treatment should always come first if you’re severely injured or are in severe pain. If you can hold off for a few minutes, take some notes.
If anyone else is around, get their names and contact information. If they’re your coworkers, you may already know how to get in touch with them. If not, you’ll want their contact information, so they can back up your story later.
If police or paramedics show up at the scene, ask for a copy of the reports they complete.
Photograph the area to show that the area is icy. Weather conditions change quickly, so the ice may not last long. It’s best if you can get pictures immediately or ask someone else to take photos if you need to seek medical attention quickly.
Holding onto your shoes and clothing can also come in handy. It can prove that you were wearing appropriate clothing if the insurance company tries to blame you for the fall.
Write down all the details you can remember about the incident, including the date and time. Record the conditions at the time, especially if the ice wasn’t fresh. If your employer didn’t clear the snow and ice that fell two days ago, this shows that they didn’t handle their responsibility to keep their employees safe.
Medical treatment is always a priority, especially if you suspect a serious injury. Delaying your treatment after falling can make an injury worse or make your recovery take longer.
Seeing a doctor is also important if you plan to file a claim against your employer. It shows that you were responsible and sought care right away. It also shows that the fall injury was severe enough to need medical care.
Severe injuries may require a trip to the ER. In some cases, you may need to call an ambulance to transport you.
Other injuries may only require a trip to urgent care or to your regular care provider.
When you seek medical care, explain the accident completely to the injury doctor. Mention all of the pain and symptoms you feel, even if they seem insignificant.
Your doctor needs a full understanding of what’s happening. A little dizziness may not seem like much to you, but your doctor may be concerned about a head injury.
Ask your doctor for a copy of the medical reports. Read over the report to make sure everything is documented accurately.
If you file a workers’ comp claim, those documents can make or break your case. If anything is inaccurate, it can hurt your case.
Keep all copies of the medical documentation and anything you receive from the insurance company for your records. Refer to them if you have questions about the claims process.
Your doctor prescribes medications and decides on therapies to best support your healing. It’s important for you to complete everything your doctor recommends.
Even if you start feeling better, continue with the treatment. Say your doctor recommends physical therapy to speed your healing, but the injury starts feeling better sooner than expected.
You might decide to stop your physical therapy sessions early. If your injury isn’t fully healed, you may start noticing pain again, or you may reinjure yourself. You may end up in therapy longer than originally expected.
Follow all recommendations for limitations the doctor determines are necessary. Your doctor may say you need to be on light duty at work or avoid certain activities.
Pushing yourself before you’re medically cleared could make your injury worse. You may aggravate it or cause further damage to the tissues.
Failing to listen to your doctor may require more medical care. That adds up to more medical bills.
You may find you need treatments that are a lot more intense. Instead of only need physical therapy for a slightly torn ligament, you may now need surgery if the ligament tears completely.
If you file an insurance claim for workers’ compensation, skipping treatments can hurt your chances.
The insurance company may say you didn’t do your part to get healthy. They could blame you for the more severe injuries since you didn’t do what your doctor recommended. This could cause a rejection of your claim.
You may not feel the full effects of your injuries immediately. Some aches and pains develop after 24 hours or longer. If you notice new symptoms after your doctor’s appointment, call the office or go back for another exam.
If your initial symptoms get worse instead of better, touch base with your doctor.
Your physician may schedule a follow-up exam even if your symptoms don’t get worse. Always go to those additional appointments. They can be important if you file a claim.
You have 30 days from the time of your slip and fall to file a workers’ compensation claim in New York. You need to submit a formal written notice about the claim. The requirements in other states may vary.
Even though you have 30 days, you should file the claim as soon as possible. The claims process can take several weeks to complete, so the sooner you submit, the faster you can get your claim paid if it’s approved.
You also make your claim look necessary when you file right away. If you wait, the insurance company may wonder why you didn’t file immediately.
If you’re seriously injured, it may not be possible to file immediately. Complete the process as soon as possible.
If your claim is denied, consider hiring a workers’ comp lawyer to help fight the denial. Attorneys who specialize in this area know what types of strategies the insurance companies use to get out of paying you. They also know how to fight back on your behalf.
Even if your initial claim is denied, you can appeal the decision.
If you slipped on ice at work, the priority is getting the medical treatment you need. Then focus on documenting what happened, so you have evidence if you file a claim for your fall injuries.
Take care of your icy fall injuries immediately. Call 1-800-897-8440 to find an experienced doctor today to treat your fall injuries before you pursue an insurance claim.
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