With their personal care and medical assistance needs growing by the day, our parents or grandparents are going to require additional help fulfilling them. A nursing home can provide our beloved seniors that service, and more.
Once they’re in a nursing home, we can be sure that our loved ones are taken care of and are safe. However, that view could change if they suffer a fall while in the nursing home and sustain injuries, including life-threatening ones.
Given how their mobility and balance decline as they get older, seniors are more prone to slipping and falling, regardless of whether they’re in a nursing home setting or not.
However, if an elderly loved one slips and falls in a nursing home and suffers an injury or dies, should you consult personal injury attorneys and file a case against the said skilled nursing facility?
How Common Are Slips And Falls In Nursing Homes?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegs the number of elderly nursing home residents dying from falls at 1,800 a year.
Given the level of trust that families of residents place on the capability of nursing homes to take good care of their loved ones, that figure provided by the CDC can be a cause for alarm.
Other findings by the CDC about falls in nursing homes include:
- Nursing home residents 65 and older make up 20% of deaths from falls
- A typical nursing home with at least a hundred beds reports 100 to 200 falls every year
- Between 50 to 75% of nursing home residents fall each year
- A nursing home resident suffers 2.6 falls on average per year
- Residents no longer able to walk account for 35% of fall injuries
- Serious injuries occur in 10% to 20% of nursing home falls, with fractures making up 2% to 6%
When A Nursing Home Fall Can Lead To A Lawsuit
Because of their deteriorating mobility and sense of balance, the simple act of standing up, sitting down, or walking constantly puts elderly nursing home residents at high risk for slipping and falling accidents.
A fall can seriously hurt younger people. You can only imagine how it is for seniors. They could experience a fall that doesn’t appear to be that bad, and still suffer a fracture or endure severe complications.
In all likelihood, victims of a nursing home fall will experience a lot of pain and suffering, affecting their quality of life radically. The resident and their families will also have to shoulder the additional burden of medical treatment and rehabilitation for their injuries.
And if you believe that your elderly loved one’s slip and fall accident happened because of a nursing home’s negligence, you can hold the facility or the care provider liable for it.
What Constitutes Nursing Home Negligence
We live in a country where customers can sue shop owners if they suffer an injury caused by a slip and fall accident within their store’s premises. Tenants can do the same thing to their landlords. Residents or their families can also sue nursing homes for that.
The key word here, however, is negligence. It is the primary responsibility and obligation of a nursing home to ensure the safety of its residents from falls and other accidents. Failure to take measures that will prevent such mishaps among its residents may constitute negligence on their part, and that makes for a strong liability lawsuit against them.
Among the things that may be construed as negligence on the part of the nursing home are:
- Failure to apply proper care techniques leading to the accident
- Lack or absence of supervision
- Failure to reassess a resident’s mobility
- Lack of handrails, grab bars, and other safety fixtures
- Failure to address wet floors, exposed electrical cords, defective flooring, and other hazards
- Hiring unqualified staff
- Failing to provide employees with adequate training
- Poor lighting conditions
- No appropriate care plan for residents at significant risk of falling
- No resident access to assistant call buttons to immediately alert staff in case of a fall
- Not employing enough people to ensure proper monitoring of residents
- Overmedication or undermedication
- Failing to assist a resident who needs help getting to a chair or a bed
If You Suspect An Unreported Fall
The CDC report on nursing home falls also reveals that many falls go unreported, and understandably so. Nursing homes know that each slip and fall accident within their premises opens them up to liability lawsuits. It’s even possible that some nursing homes who report such falls downplay the severity of the accident in their report to protect themselves from potential legal consequences.
When visiting your loved one in a nursing home, always make it a point to check for signs of bruises, abrasions, and fractures. It will also help if you check his or her chart regularly. And if your loved one informs you about a slip and fall accident that occurred days or weeks ago, don’t hesitate to investigate his or her claim.
Steps To Take When Suing A Nursing Home For A Slip And Fall Accident
If you believe that the negligence of a nursing home directly contributed to the slip and fall accident that injured your elderly loved one, consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against them.
Once you’ve decided to sue, make sure that you request a copy of your loved one’s medical chart and all records of the incident. If the nursing home administered medications and treatment to address the injury, secure paperwork on it, too.
With a personal injury lawsuit, you can ask for damages, both economic and non-economic. You can seek compensation for medical expenses for the treatment and rehabilitation of the injury caused by the fall, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, and mental or emotional distress.
To make sure that the case you intend to build against a nursing home is strong, get the services of an experienced slip and fall attorney, whose expertise in the field increases the chances of just compensation for your elderly loved one.
About the Author:
Andrea Williams is the Community Manager at The Law Offices of Alcock & Associates P.C., a premier law group in Arizona that provides legal services to clients involved in Personal Injury, DUI, Immigration and Criminal cases. She enjoys cooking, reading books and playing minigolf with her friends and family in her spare time.
We can Help! Our local advisors can help your family make a confident decision about senior living.