Slip-and-fall injuries are the most common type of nursing home injury. More than half of all residents fall every year. These incidents usually cause serious or permanent physical and emotional wounds.
Due to age or infirmity, almost all nursing home residents are physically vulnerable. As a result, wounds like head injuries and broken bones are especially hard to recover from. Additionally, falls have emotional effects. Many of these victims are so afraid of a repeat fall that they essentially become prisoners in their own rooms.
Because of these emotional and physical injuries, a St. Louis personal injury attorney can obtain needed compensation for families. Additionally, legal action typically brings justice and closure. These things are often more important than financial compensation.
What Causes Elderly Falls?
As mentioned, many older adults have pre-existing conditions that increase the severity of their injuries. Frequently, other pre-existing conditions increase the risk of a fall.
Many long-term care facility residents struggle with Age-related Macular Degeneration. AMD blurs the straight-ahead vision that people need for balance. Many times, the symptoms are almost unnoticeable except in certain stressful situations. As a result, many of these individuals do not know their vision is impaired until it is too late.
Other residents suffer from gait disorders. Shuffling feet is the most common symptom. When younger people lose their balance, they can usually recover before falling. But when older people lose their balance, they usually fall.
Common nursing home fall hazards include sidewalk cracks, loose handrails, and construction areas.
Is the Nursing Home Owner Responsible for Injuries?
Yes, if the nursing home owner had a legal duty and knew about the hazard which caused the fall.
To determine legal duty, Missouri law divides victims into three categories based on a common law classification system:
- Invitee (permission to be on the property and benefit to the owner),
- Licensee (permission but no benefit), and
- Trespasser (no permission and no benefit).
Nursing home residents are clearly invitees. They have specific permission to be in the facility and they create an economic benefit. As a result, the nursing home owner has a duty of reasonable care. That’s one of the highest duties in Missouri law.
Owners are only responsible for nursing home fall injuries if they knew, or should have known, about the wet spot or other hazard which caused the fall. Direct evidence of actual knowledge includes “smoking guns” like property inspection reports. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually involves the time-notice principle.
Nursing home fall victims are normally entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Louis, contact Schultz & Myers, Personal Injury Lawyers. We routinely handle matters in Jefferson County and nearby jurisdictions.