Nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide valuable services to aging elderly residents. As part of their services, these facilities and their employees have legal obligations to take reasonable measures that keep residents safe, healthy, and free from harm that could and should be prevented. Unfortunately, preventable injuries still occur in nursing homes across the country – including many that result from slips, trips, and falls that should never have happened in the first place.
Although older Americans face considerable risks when it comes to falls, nursing homes and other assisted living service providers have a legal duty to manage those risks. They also have obligations to ensure preventable hazards don’t subject residents to injuries caused by slipping, tripping, or falling. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for damages victims suffer through personal injury claims.
At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our Cleveland personal injury lawyers have extensive experience advocating for victims and families following abuse, neglect, and preventable injuries in nursing homes across Ohio. If you or your loved one have been injured in a nursing home anywhere in the state, our legal team is prepared to review your case and discuss how we can help protect your right to financial compensation.
Slip & Fall Risks Among the Elderly
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults (age 65 and older) face considerable risks when it comes to slips and falls. In fact, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal and fatal injuries suffered by elderly Americans – with one in four older Americans suffering from a fall each year, and nearly 3 million of them requiring emergency medical attention for their injuries.
Given these risks, health care providers – including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in-home health care services – must take measures to protect the elderly through careful assessments and the development of individualized care plans. These plans must assess a resident’s fall risks according to a number of factors, including their age, physical or mental disabilities, and any medications they take that can compromise their balance.
Managing Risks & Preventing Injuries
Based on risks assessments, care plans can be tailored to the unique needs of residents. Such care plans may consist of various measures to ensure residents have the assistance they need and that facilities are free from potential dangers, including plans and policies that cover:
- The use of specialized medical devices or equipment (walkers, mobility aids, wheelchairs, etc.)
- Addressing and fixing potential hazards (i.e. wet or uneven floors, open holes, exposed cords and tripping hazards, lack of sufficient lighting, and more)
- Supervision and assistance with movement (from one location to another, from bed to chair, etc.)
- Properly installing, positioning, and using stabilization devices, guard rails, and grab bars
- Ensuring beds, chairs, and other amenities are adjusted to a safe height
Is a Nursing Home Liable for Slip and Fall Accidents?
Not all falls result from a nursing home facility’s negligence, which is why determining liability depends on the unique facts and circumstances involved, as well as investigations into whether nursing homes or employees failed in some way to provide a safe environment. These failures may involve:
- Failing to fix hazards staff of nursing homes knew or should have known about.
- A lack of staff or properly trained staff.
- Failure to devise and implement an individualized care plan to manage risks
- Failure to use proper techniques when moving residents
- Failure to assess and monitor medications
By determining an underlying cause, our legal team can pursue compensation for damages – including a victim’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, and more – by illustrating a nursing home’s failure to uphold its legal obligations. Remember, nursing homes and the insurance companies that insure them are businesses that want to protect their bottom line – which means they often fight these claims aggressively to pay victims as little as possible, if anything at all. To level the playing field, you can work with experienced lawyers who know how to establish the legal elements of a successful claim.
To learn more about your right to compensation after a nursing home injury caused by a slip and fall accident or any other negligent or wrongful acts, contact us for a FREE consultation. Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP proudly serves clients across the state of Ohio.