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Nursing Home Fall Lawyer
Attorneys for Patients Seriously Injured or Killed in Falls
Nursing home residents are obviously at greater risk of falls than the average senior. Many elderly residents have dementia or other memory deficiencies and have more difficulty getting around if they can at all.
Other residents might be immobile or have limited mobility and still desire to move around without assistance. The rate of falls in older adults is understandably high.
Elderly nursing home and assisted living residents are at a fall risk in any nursing home, even those that provide the highest level of care. The risks increase exponentially when the level of oversight and care falls, as it does in a substandard nursing home.
The skilled nursing home facility or assisted living facility could be legally responsible for an accident if a loved one falls when unsupervised.
Fall accident victims harmed at long-term care facilities should speak to a personal injury attorney to discuss obtaining financial compensation to resolve their legal case.
A Nursing Home Fall Injury Attorney Can Help
The nursing home abuse attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center, LLC will talk with you about your particular elder abuse case. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 for a free case evaluation about your loved one's fall injury case.
Let us handle your injury claim or civil lawsuit to ensure you, or a loved one, get maximum compensation for your damages.
Our team of nursing home negligence lawyers, carefully examines the liability aspects of your case to ensure that all avenues of recovery are pursued.
After we've established liability, we examine the damages portion of the slip and fall case to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses for past and future care
- Pain and suffering
- Physical therapy
- Out of pocket expenses
- Loss of quality of life
In the case of a fatal nursing home fall, our legal team will pursue a wrongful death claim against the nursing home facility to recover compensation for a family member's loss of financial and emotional support from a loved one.
As with all of our nursing home injury cases, we handle nursing home fall cases on a contingency fee basis where we only receive a legal fee when we are successful in obtaining a recovery for your loved one.
Statistics on Nursing Home Falls Injuries & Death
Falls are a direct cause of death for nearly 2,000 nursing homes and assisted living patients each year. Generally, up to twenty percent of falls result in a nursing home injury, although many are minor. Two to six percent of falls will cause some type of fracture, such as hip fractures.
Falls are generally not an isolated occurrence among nursing home residents. Often, the patient will fall multiple times due to the nursing home staff's negligence. Those who do fall will fall on average nearly three times each year.
Falling is often the result of understaffing, lack of supervision and nursing home staff not following an established standard of care. Many falls go unreported.
Many times, an older adult will fall and get up on their own and not report it. Alternatively, nursing homes might not follow proper federal regulations to report a fall (nursing home negligence).
Consequences of Falls in Nursing Homes
Even if a resident does not die due to the fall, it will likely have many long-term consequences if they are injured. If a patient suffers a fracture or head injuries (traumatic brain injury) in a fall, it will further lessen whatever mobility they previously had. When a resident is further immobilized, it impacts their overall health.
Residents who can no longer ambulate will see their general strength decline, and they will become frailer without being able to exercise their muscles. Simultaneously, residents who are immobilized are at a greater risk of developing bedsores that can lead to infections.
Other fall-related injuries sustained by nursing home patients include:
- Subdural hematoma (brain bleed)
- Fractured bones
- Hip fractures
- Femur fractures
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Causes of Falls in Nursing Home Residents
When a resident falls, it can be caused by several predicates. The resident's physical condition could cause a fall. The patient might suffer from muscle weakness or issues with their gait.
They might be attempting to get out of bed or their wheelchair to walk when they are no longer able to do so. Finally, the medications that they are taking might cause them to become disoriented and lose their balance.
Falls are not just caused by the resident's health and balance problems. Many falls involving severe injury cases are the fault of the skilled nursing home in some way. Some nursing facilities have various hazards that increase the chance that the resident might fall.
For example, nursing homes could be poorly designed or constructed such that there is a physical impediment to free movement. Alternatively, there could be low lighting or incorrect bed height.
Finally, falls might even be caused by a temporary condition such as a wet floor in the building.
Inadequate patient supervision by home staff is a significant cause of fall accidents. Many nursing facilities simply do not have enough nurses and CNAs to provide the appropriate care for their residents.
In most instances, this is a deliberate strategy to minimize staffing expenses and maximize profits. When residents are left unsupervised or are not adequately cared for, they will tend to try to move around on their own when they should not.
For example, a resident might need assistance in using the bathroom but could try to get up and go on their own when the necessary help takes too long to arrive.
Lastly, many slip and fall accidents in nursing homes are related to traditional factors such as liquids on the floors, clutter and staff failing to warn patients of fall risks in the area.
How Should Long-Term Care Facilities Handle Fall Risk Patients?Skilled nursing facilities are always required to assess the resident's fall risk and how they can prevent falls. The nursing staff should assess your loved one's mobility when first relocating into the facility and need to be updated regularly or as the patient's needs change.
Specific interventions should be added to the plan of care to prevent falls is at high risk for falling, some homes will place restraints on a resident who is at a high risk of falls. Intervention plans might involve therapy to help a resident get stronger or walk better.
Other plans include extra help and monitoring of the patient. Fall intervention plans require extra staff attention to tend to the resident's medical condition.
Many nursing homes and assisted living centers cannot or will not devote the staff necessary to implement these interventions adequately. In any event, nursing facilities simply cannot ignore the risk that a particular resident might fall as it is against Federal and State laws.
The fall intervention plan is also not a static thing. If a resident does fall, the plan must be reevaluated. If any changes are necessary, then the plan must be changed accordingly. This helps to prevent a personal injury for the elderly person.
This process must occur each time that a resident has a fall. A pattern of falling should mean that progressively more measures are implemented to prevent future falls.
Why Falls Are a Type of Nursing Home Abuse
The terms 'nursing home abuse' and 'nursing home neglect' frequently get tossed around by attorneys and families who have loved ones who have been mistreated in nursing homes.
While these terms may be somewhat vague and without much specific meaning, at the end of the day they generally refer to a patient that suffered injuries due to staff not doing their job.
In this sense, nursing home fall cases can be a type of abuse, because when closely examined, the majority of cases will reveal that a patient suffered an injury or died in a fall that could have been prevented.
Furthermore, many nursing home staff members fail to document falls in a patient's medical chart resulting in antiquated patient charts and outdated care plans.
If loved ones have suffered a fall in a nursing center, contact our nursing home abuse lawyers today for a free case evaluation.
Nursing Home Fall Injury FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions raised by families who have loved ones who have suffered a fall in a long term care facility such as a nursing home or assisted living facility.
We appreciate that you may have additional questions after reviewing these questions. Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with a top-rated lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and options.
Where Do Most Falls Occur in Nursing Homes?
According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), Over 1.5 million men and women living in American nursing facilities fall every year, suffering severe consequences.
The common risk factors that increased potential risk for falls in a nursing home and assisted living facility, especially among the frail, include:
- Low lighting areas
- Unstable furniture
- Uneven floors
- The wet surfaces
- Cluttered areas
- Ineffective wheelchairs with non-functioning breaks
- Unstable bed wheels
- Inaccessible personal items
- Challenges with putting on and using shoes and clothing
- Improper footwear
Additionally, understaffing and the staff failing to supervise could cause patients to fall in nursing homes in their rooms, bathrooms, common areas, and outdoors.
Can a Nursing Home Patient Die in a Fall?
Yes, even a short fall to the ground could be catastrophic for the elderly. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) statistics, twenty-five percent of all individuals in the U.S. over sixty-four years old fall at least one time every year.
Many fall-related deaths among the elderly involve traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and hip fractures. Some survivors of fall injuries residing in a long-term care nursing homes will develop catheter-associated UTIs (urinary tract infections), sepsis (blood infection), pneumonia, Clostridium difficile, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
All these conditions could be fatal.
What Should Nursing Home Staff Do If a Patient Falls?
The nursing staff should take appropriate measures when a resident falls, including checking their blood pressure, pulse, and breathing. If the resident is unconscious, there is no pulse, or they are not breathing, call 911 and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
Do not move or lift the resident from the floor. Instead, wait for emergency medical technicians to arrive. In the meantime, check the resident for any injuries that might involve fractures, broken bones, bruises, scrapes, contusions, and cuts.
Avoid raising the resident's head to look for any back or neck injury. Allow the medical technicians to use a backboard and neck brace to transport the resident to the emergency room to undergo x-rays and diagnostic testing to determine their condition.
How Can We Prevent Nursing Home Falls?
According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), the nursing staff could prevent a resident's fall and avoid the severe risks of long-term medical and health consequences.
The medical team should utilize preventative fall measures that include:
- Identifying those at high risk for falling, including residents with overall weakness, gait disturbances, impaired vision, incontinence, cardiovascular disease, and previous falls
- Assess the resident to identify contributing fall factors that might include confusion, mental disturbance, and mobility issues
- Train the staff accepted protocols on how to move the resident from the wheelchair to the toilet, chair, or bed
- Discontinue administering any unnecessary drugs and monitor current medications while reevaluating the use of any prescribed tranquilizers or sedatives
- Continuously assess the resident's environment to identify any hazards like cluttered areas, crowded corridors, debris in the hallways, or slippery floors
- Ensure that every patient wears proper shoes and avoid any pants or long robes that hang below the resident's ankle
In addition to keeping the environment clean and clutter-free, nursing facilities should also evaluate each patient's fall risk and create a care plan that adapts as the needs of the patients change.
How Long Does It Take for an Elderly Person to Recover from Nursing Home Falls?
Many nursing home residents will require weeks or months of rehabilitation to fully recover after fall injuries that might involve a hip fracture or dislocated joint injury. If surgery is required, the patient will likely require extensive rehabilitation after their hospital discharge that could last six weeks or longer.
During the recovery phase, the elderly patient will likely require physical therapy, adaptive equipment, including shower benches, to allow sitting during showering and handrails to assist those with balance issues. The patient will likely undergo physical and occupational therapy to regain their functional ability to walk without assistance.
Elderly senior citizens with cognitive and memory problems might require ongoing assistance and supervision. Any surgical procedure might cause postoperative delirium, making their cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, or dementia significantly worse.
Sample Nursing Home Fall Injuries & Wrongful Death Lawsuits & Settlements
As mentioned above, even if the resident falls on their own, nursing facilities can be found liable for the injuries that have been caused by the incident. Specifically, specific contributing factors will be added to a civil lawsuit if the accident was caused by a lack of staff member supervision or preventable hazard.
Here are some examples where skilled nursing facilities have been successfully sued for fall injuries and fatalities:
Elder Abuse Jury Verdict for $29.1 million in California
A seventy-nine-year-old female resident with Alzheimer's disease was involved in a slip and fall in a nursing home and broke her hip. It took the California nursing home eight days to diagnose a fractured hip that resulted from the fall.
By that time, the resident had developed infected bedsores. The family members took legal action against the nursing home and filed a lawsuit alleging the facility failed to implement fall prevention measures. Jurors found that the facility failed to provide adequate staffing to prevent the resident's nursing home falls.
The jury awarded the victim compensatory damages and assessed punitive damages of $28 million against the facility.
Nursing Home Neglect Jury Verdict for $214,500 in Texas
The nursing home resident was assessed as a high risk of falls in large part due to balance issues. The resident suffered five falls over two months.
Several of those falls involved the resident hitting their head and suffering an injury.
The resident died from an intracranial hemorrhage that was a result of the final fall. The resident's family argued that the care plan should have been updated with interventions to prevent falls, and it was not and that any updated instructions were not conveyed to the nurse.
Negligent Nursing Home Fall Prevention Settlement for $300,000 in Pennsylvania
A nursing home resident with Parkinson's disease suffered many nursing home falls that caused further internal bleeding injuries and broken bones that ultimately contributed to his death. These falls occurred after he was moved to the dementia wing of the nursing home.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming that the Pennsylvania nursing home was aware that the resident was a high fall risk when he was moved to the dementia wing. The document states that nursing employees failed to implement proper measures given the decedent's history of falls.
The nursing home did not follow care standards or update that care plan when the resident continued to fall.
Wrongful Death Recovery for $350,000 in Massachusetts
The nursing staff transferred an elderly resident requiring that two caregivers participate while moving the "total-care patient." However, only one caregiver was involved in moving the resident when the incident occurred. The resident fell and suffered an eye injury, resulting in a loss of eyesight and extensive medical care with associated medical bills.
The injury diminished the resident's quality of life by debilitating the resident's eyesight and requiring the use of an eye shield. The resident died several months later.
Nursing Home Injury Settlement for $300,000 in New York
The elderly plaintiff fell from her bed at the nursing home, causing a hip fracture. The resident had previously suffered a broken hip from which they were recovering at the facility.
The nursing home had policies about fall prevention, but the nursing home neglect lawsuit alleged that they were not followed. The family claimed that the nursing home failed to position their loved one's bed at a proper height, which in part caused the fall at the home. Also, the bed rails allegedly did not cover the entire bed. For more information on New York nursing homes, look here.
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Has Your Family Member Been Injured in a Fall at a Nursing Home? Speak to an Attorney Now
Did your loved one or family member fall at a nursing home and suffer a serious injury or die from the accident? Speak with our nursing home abuse attorneys during a free consultation.
Our nursing home slip and fall lawyers will provide information and legal advice on your actionable legal claim against the facility. We can protect your legal rights and serve as your advocate throughout the entire litigation process.
Call our law firm at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free) today to schedule a free consultation. All discussions with our personal injury lawyers about your loved one remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
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