UPDATED: FEBRUARY 24, 2020
Every winter season, we receive many inquiries about and handle “slip and fall” cases. These cases typically involve someone slipping on snow or ice due to a commercial property owner’s failure to adequately provide a safe walking area.
Some of the injuries from these falls are horrific leading to catastrophic injuries and deaths, while other injuries can be relatively minor.
As noted in a recent NY Times article, “According to paratroopers, stunt professionals, physical therapists and martial arts instructors, there is indeed a “right way” to fall — and it can save you a lot of grief if you know how to do it.”
Obviously, property owners should be responsible and take care of their property where pedestrians walk. Since we know that’s not always the case, here are some pointers to help minimize your injury if you happen to fall.
Protect your head. Tuck your head as you’re falling because you don’t want your head hitting the ground if you can help it.
Try to avoid falling onto outstretched hands or your knees. Try to bend your elbows and knees in and fall on the fleshiest parts of your body, like buttocks, shoulder, or thigh.
Many martial artists routinely practice falling to minimize the impact on the body. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (which I and my brother / partner practice religiously), “break-falls” are part of every class. You literally fall back to the ground, keep your head up, round your body, and more-or-less just go with it, by keeping your body relaxed. For those feeling up to it, here’s a pretty good YouTube video about how to properly “break fall.”
Michael Raff, Esq.