Nursing home litigation requires the expertise of an attorney familiar with issues faced by elderly residents in long-term care facilities. A slip and fall injury in a nursing home involves vastly different facts, causes and legal analysis than an ordinary slip and fall case. In a nursing home lawsuit, your choice of attorney can make a crucial difference in whether or not the litigation is successful.
Falls in nursing homes are all too common and pose a continuing threat to the life and health of elderly residents. Attorneys experienced in nursing home litigation know that slip and fall investigations may go well beyond questions of whether the floor was wet or the lighting was dim. Often, to determine whether the facility is negligent, lawyers must carefully review the nursing home’s practices and procedures, especially as they relate to individual residents.
Upon admission to a nursing home, every resident undergoes a full risk assessment. The resident’s fall history is a critical aspect of this evaluation. Therefore, in determining whether a nursing home is liable for injuries caused by a resident’s fall, the initial inquiry might focus on whether the facility staff knew that the resident was more likely to experience a fall. It is the responsibility of nursing home staff to prevent falls and their resulting injuries. Failing to do so can be nursing home neglect or negligence.
Accordingly, once the resident’s risk assessment is completed, staff must develop a comprehensive care plan that highlights the resident’s risk of falling and strategies for addressing it. Details of the plan must be communicated to staff and properly implemented. The plan must also be regularly reviewed to see if it is being followed and whether it is in need of revision.
Fall prevention strategies may include handrails, proper bed positioning, and an individualized toileting program. To alert nurses when the resident gets up, a chair or bed alarm can be vital. Restraints, on the other hand, tend to increase the likelihood of falling. Regular exercise can help to improve a resident’s mobility, but activity programs must be carefully tailored to individual abilities.
How Nursing Home Falls Happen
Many nursing home falls occur because of preventable hazards like slippery floors, poor lighting, improperly adjusted beds and poorly maintained wheelchairs. In addition, a resident’s functioning might be impaired by over-medication, improperly fitted shoes and lack of walking aids such as walkers or handrails.
Nursing home hallways and common areas should be well-lit and have easy access to handrails. Carpeting that is tightly woven will help to avert slips and falls. Bathrooms should be equipped with raised toilet seats, grab bars, and non-skid flooring. Staffing levels must be adequate, allowing for quick response to calls for assistance.
Choosing An Attorney
If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit because a loved one has been injured by falling in a nursing home, your choice of attorney is important. Consulting a lawyer whose experience is limited to ordinary slip and fall cases is not sufficient. Nursing home cases require the expertise of a lawyer well-acquainted with facility practices such as risk assessments and comprehensive care plans. It is also essential that the lawyer be familiar with the conditions and hazards that can contribute to nursing home slip and fall injuries.