When we move our elderly loved ones into a nursing home, we put our faith in the staff and administration of the home to ensure our loved one’s safety. Sadly, all too often, this faith is undermined by nursing home neglect. For instance, a high rate of slip and fall injuries at a given facility is cause for concern.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that residents in nursing homes fall at twice the rate (50-75%) of elders who live independently or with family. In the most extreme cases, accidental falls can result in death. For people 75 and over, falls are the most common cause of accidental death. Most of these accidents could be prevented by attentive nursing home staff and precautionary measures enacted on the premises. Nursing home neglect is punishable by law; if your loved one was injured in a fall because of a negligent nursing home, you have the right to file an injury lawsuit to seek compensation.
Why Are Falls So Common in Nursing Homes?
Why are falls so common in nursing homes? Many factors that cause these accidents have to do with the effects of old age. As we age, we tend to lose balance and coordination. Additionally, people in nursing homes may be on various medications that could cause disorientation or dizziness. However, it is not just the general effects of old age that cause nursing home falls. The pervasive spreading of nursing home neglect and abuse across the country is an indicator that the rate of nursing home falls will continue to rise.
The age of nursing home residents is also a contributing factor in the severity of these accidents. While a person of any age could suffer a serious injury after a fall, people 65 and older are more likely to suffer long-term injuries and take longer to recover from their accident. As a result, a fall can affect the victim’s life for weeks or months.
Common Injuries Due to Falls in Nursing Homes
People over 65 may suffer a range of injuries due to a fall. For example, falls may result in broken bones, hip injuries, head trauma, and emotional distress. While these are the most common results of fall accidents, there may be additional consequences for your loved one’s accident. Whatever injuries they suffer as a result of nursing home neglect can and should be fully compensated.
Broken or fractured bones (particularly wrists and ankles) are among the most common injuries people over 65 suffer in a fall. People struggling with conditions like osteoporosis are also more at risk for these injuries. Recently, an 88-year-old woman who suffered a broken leg in her nursing home sued the facility, eventually settling her case for $175,000.
95% of the time, hip injuries are caused by a fall. A broken hip may require hip replacement surgery and long-term rehabilitation. For example, a 90+-year-old woman broke her hip in a fall after negligent staff left her unattended; she was awarded over $260,000 to account for her medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
Some of the most severe injuries caused by a fall are head injuries. The CDC reports that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries for people over 65. Because of the severity of head injuries, settlements for these cases tend to be, on average, higher than other injury cases. For example, an 83-year-old nursing home resident who fractured her skull after falling during a transfer by staff took her case to trial. The judge and jury ruled in her favor and awarded her $500,000.
Persistent Fear of Falling
In many cases, an older person who has suffered severe injuries from a fall may develop an intense fear of falling. This is a serious matter because it may result in decreased activity over time, which could result in an overall decline in physical health. This lasting fear is a form of emotional distress, generally included in pain and suffering damages. Because it is difficult to quantify these losses, compensation varies greatly. However, in general, the more a nursing home resident has suffered after a fall, the more they are eligible to claim in damages.
How To Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes
Slip and fall accidents are preventable with the right precautions. Because older adults are particularly at risk for falls, it is important that you have a conversation with the nursing home to ensure the safety of your loved one. If you have a family member in a nursing home, there are items you can provide or ask for that will help protect your loved one from a potential fall. For example, ensuring your loved one has proper non-slip footwear is an easy, relatively inexpensive fall deterrent. Additionally, you have the right to inquire with the nursing home about implementing specific safety measures, including handrails, flooring, unobstructed walkways, and wheelchair accessibility. These simple changes can protect your loved one from a potentially dangerous fall.
Federal Regulation on Nursing Home Falls
Multiple federal regulations exist to prevent injuries in nursing homes (such as slip and fall accidents). For example, Title 42 of the Federal Code of Regulations requires that nursing home facilities:
Conduct periodic, standardized assessments of residents’ functional capabilities.
Ensure residents have a hazard-free environment in all spaces on the premises.
Provide residents with any necessary assistance devices to prevent accidents.
Provide each resident with adequate supervision to ensure their safety.
If a fall occurs because a nursing home fails to abide by any of the above regulations, the nursing home and/or staff are considered to be in violation of federal law and will be regarded as legally and financially liable for resident injuries resulting from this negligence.
How To Recover Compensation for Damages
In a personal injury lawsuit, victims and their families have the right to seek two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic losses cover any costs your family has faced as a result of your loved one’s fall. For example, you may have paid various medical bills in order to provide your loved one with the treatment they require. In addition to these tangible costs, you have the right to seek fair compensation for losses your loved one has faced that are more difficult to quantify. These non-economic damages can include pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
To recover financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses after a fall caused by nursing home neglect, your attorney will review the details of your case to evaluate the best strategy. Depending on the circumstances, your nursing home injury claim may be settled outside of court or may go to trial. Settling your claim in financial settlement negotiations may be the best option for your family. However, if your representative is unable to come to a fair agreement with the nursing home, you have the right to take your case to court. If the judge and jury rule in your favor, the nursing home will be required to pay the full cost of your family’s losses (and potentially additional punitive damages).
Find the Best Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer for Your Case
If your loved one has suffered a fall due to nursing home neglect, you need a qualified attorney to help you win the justice your family deserves. Expertise.com helps connect people with qualified professionals across the country. By using our concierge service, you can save time and let us do the work of finding an experienced nursing home injury attorney for you. Call 848-BookPro today to find a practicing personal injury lawyer in your area.
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