As soon as temperatures dip below the freezing point, ice begins to form, coating sidewalks, walkways and roads. When the ice isn’t cleared away, the chances of someone slipping on it – even when they tread carefully – significantly increase.

Ice differs from other slippery surfaces in that it’s not always clearly visible – think black ice appearing as damp patches on a dark road. When an individual slips on ice, they fall fast to the ground, which offers no support. Because of these factors, a slip and fall injury on ice can become particularly dangerous for the following reasons.

1. How You Fall

Parking lot with snowWhat happens when someone slips on ice? Due to the surface’s slickness, there is a chance that you’ll fall down at a faster speed. Then, you’ll hit a hard surface – usually asphalt covered in a layer of ice – that doesn’t bounce back. Typically, individuals hit the ground on their hips or bottom; when this occurs, the force from hitting the pavement rapidly passes through the areas of your body with the least amount of resistance.

2. How It Affects Your Body

For slips and falls on ice, two of the most common injuries are extremely concerning: broken bones and head trauma. Even when the fall doesn’t seem that serious, your body can experience significant trauma. Specifically, the force knocks your pelvis out of position, often to the point that it’s rotated and twisted at an angle. In response, your spine has to adjust. As a result of these factors, an injury might not be immediately apparent, but your body could be experiencing soft tissue and joint damage that, without medical attention, becomes worse over time.

At the same time, when such force passes through your pelvis and spine, there’s a chance you could blow out a spinal disc, leading to what’s known as a herniated, ruptured or bulging disc. The area around it could also become strained; as the fall affects muscles deep in your lower back, an acute back injury may emerge.

These injuries, whether they’re readily apparent or not, often require a combination of surgery, injections, medications and physical therapy to correct.

While your back, spine and head are the most vulnerable areas, falls, depending upon how you hit the ground, can also affects other parts of your body. Your arms, elbows, shoulders and or wrists may break or fracture if you fall directly on any of these body parts.

Although you can tell when a bone is broken right away, many injuries from falling on ice are not so easy to spot. In fact, damage can go unnoticed for years! Because a fall could create a soft tissue, muscle or joint injury that never fully heals, it’s recommended that you see a medical professional immediately after the fall, even if your body seems fine.

3. Serious Injuries for Certain Individuals

The elderly and individuals predisposed to osteoporosis and broken bones often experience more serious injuries when falling on ice. While the chance of breaking a bone increases, this type of fall also has potential to result in the following:

  • Bleeding on the brain.
  • Other internal bruising and bleeding risks, especially if you take a blood thinner like Warfarin, Clopidogrel or even aspirin.

As a result of these risks, anyone living with these conditions or taking the above medications should get immediate medical attention after a fall.

4. Lack of Visibility

What’s worse than attempting to walk over a slippery surface? Being surprised by black ice. Black ice can form when precipitation, melted ice or snow freezes over. On sidewalks and roads, it looks fairly unassuming – just a wet patch. You might not be wearing proper footwear or taking the necessary safety precautions, so slipping and falling onto the pavement often comes out of nowhere.

Visible ice or not, building owners have a duty to patrons and clients walking on their sidewalk to keep the area free and clear of slip hazards. When you’ve been being careful in winter weather, only to fall and sustain an injury from slippery pavement, you may have a claim to pursue. Contact the slip and fall lawyers at Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers today.