When we place an elderly loved one in a nursing home we do it mainly because he or she cannot be safely and properly cared for at home. We expect the nursing home staff to carefully evaluate the needs of each individual resident, to develop a specific and comprehensive care plan, and to make sure that the plan is implemented and revised as needed. One of the nursing home’s major responsibilities is to prevent each resident from sustaining an injury by falling.
Ordinary slip and fall claims are brought against property owners who fail to maintain safe premises or who place an object or substance on the property which causes a person to injure himself by slipping and falling. In such cases, the key task of the personal injury lawyer is to determine the condition, object or substance that caused the fall. Nursing home slip and fall cases are far more complicated.
Special Considerations For Nursing Home Slip And Fall Claims
Attorneys who handle slip and fall claims against a nursing home must be aware that elderly people are especially vulnerable to serious injury by falling. The lawyer must also be skilled at analyzing all possible causes of the fall, including the actions, or the failure to take action, by the nursing home staff. In traditional slip and fall cases, failure to show the specific defect, object or substance on the property that caused the fall will, most likely, terminate the case unsuccessfully. In contrast, a nursing home’s liability in such claims may stem from a variety of factors, many of which are not readily observable or understood.
According the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 16,000 people die each year as a result of falling. Close to 2 million are treated in emergency rooms for slip and fall injuries. Falls are the second greatest cause of accidental death in persons 65 to 84 and the leading cause of accidental death for those 85 and older. For most senior citizens, a fall can be devastating. Osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, can heighten the risk of serious fractures, especially hip fractures that can be fatal or severely disabling. In addition to broken bones, an elderly person who falls may suffer critical or fatal damage to the brain or spinal cord.
In nursing homes, more than 60 percent of residents will fall at some point during their stay. Some of them will experience repeated falls. At times, a fall can be easily prevented-by properly drying wet or slippery floors, installing good lighting, fixing holes or other defects on the property, maintaining wheelchairs and bed rails, and following safety procedures when transferring residents from beds to wheelchairs. At other times, the cause of the fall is harder to pinpoint. An attorney who is knowledgeable about nursing home injuries will know to look for other ways in which the facility and staff may have been negligent, especially in terms of how they address the particular needs of individual residents.
Consult An Attorney
A nursing home slip and fall case is different from any other claim in which an individual sustains an injury by falling. To understand the rights of a loved one who has been hurt by a fall in a nursing home, it is important to consult an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in this type of claim.