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MATA Member 2017 - Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys
AV Kenneth I. Kolpan 2016
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Brain Injuries from Slip and Falls

According to the Brain Injury Association of America,, twenty-eight (28%) percent of brain injuries are caused by falls. Brain injuries may result from the direct blow to the head as when a person strikes their head against a curb, sidewalk or any hard object. Despite the relatively small distance the head travels during a slip and fall leading to a head strike, the fact that the brain is contained within a very hard vault (skull) with sharp ridges, the short distance can lead to a devastating brain injury.  Prior to impact, the brain, made of a gelatin like material, and the skull travel at different speeds.  When the skull strikes the curb or other hard object, the brain continues to move within the skull bouncing off the sharp ridges tearing and shearing brain axons.  One of Attorney Kolpan's slip and fall cases demonstrated the phenomenon.  A woman was working in a call center where a contractor was replacing carpeting on a cement floor.  The woman stepped over the rolled up carpeting, her foot slipped on the glue (which was extremely slippery before it hardened) send her in to the air.  Her head struck the concrete and, according to an eyewitness, sounded like a gun shot.  Tragically, the woman suffered a significant and life long brain injury and never returned to work for the rest of her life.

Brain injuries may also occur due to brain swelling from edema or bleeding or noxious gases such as carbon monoxide or inappropriate use of anesthesia, known as atraumatic or non traumatic brain injury. Medical evaluation may include a clinical evaluation and diagnostic tests to rule out an increase or potential increase in intracranial pressure. Intra cranial pressure (ICP) monitoring, medications and/or surgery may be used to address intra cranial pressure issues.

A recent case which our office handled is an example of the brain injury that may result from a rise in intra cranial pressure: a client in a health facility was left unattended in the bathroom even though he was at risk for falls due to balance problems. The facility was aware of his condition but he was allowed to remain in the bathroom unsupervised. He was found later on the bathroom floor unconscious and subsequently died. Our office obtained a settlement for his family.

Referral to well qualified brain injury rehabilitation specialists is crucial to the person's recovery, especially in the acute stages of rehabilitation.  Not all physicians, hospitals or neurologists specialize in the treatment and evaluation of those with brain injuries. Those who do have the necessary resources to help the patient and their family cope with the potentially life long impact of the brain injury.  Proper treatment can address cognitive and physical issues which can impact one's return to work, sports and family.  Early treatment can guide the person with the brain injury as how best to return to the activities they participated in prior to the incident causing the brain injury.  

We invite you read more about brain injury litigation here on our website. For further information, you may contact our office online or call us at 617.426.2558.