Understanding Nursing Home Falls
In many cases, serious falls either put people in extended-term care facilities, or they keep them there much longer than anticipated. Falls account for 40 percent of nursing home admissions, and 60 percent of these residents fall while at the facility. The result is often the same. Many of these victims suffer severe wounds like head and spinal injuries. As a result, most older adults can never live independently again after they fall.
In addition to the medical bills, fall victims must deal with emotional injuries. Fear often comes into play here. Many fall victims are so afraid of falling again that they become immobile. As a result, their muscles deteriorate, increasing the risk of future falls. Then, the downward spiral continues.
Due to the nature of these injuries, an Orlando personal injury attorney can obtain significant compensation for victims. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney obtains justice for these families.
What Causes Nursing Home Falls?
Some combination of nursing home understaffing and resident medical conditions usually causes nursing home falls in Hillsborough County.
The over-65 population has grown at unheard of rates over the past several decades, and the over-85 population has grown even faster. Unfortunately, in many cases, nursing home staff levels have not kept pace with this growth.
Just before the elderly population boom began, Medicaid changed its reimbursement levels and policies. As a result, many nursing homes are cash-strapped, as Medicaid is the financial lifeblood for most such facilities. When businesses trim costs, they almost always start with payroll, because that’s usually the largest line item.
As a result, many nursing homes are dangerously understaffed. That’s especially true on weekends and other low-census periods. So, many residents are basically unsupervised. There is no one to keep them out of construction areas or take care of simple maintenance matters, like burned-out lights.
Moreover, almost all nursing home residents have pre-existing health conditions. Otherwise, they would probably not be there in the first place.
Some conditions, like Age-related Macular Degeneration, increase the risk of a fall. AMD impairs straight-ahead vision as well as balance.
Other conditions increase the risk of serious injury. These conditions could be a chronic illness, like osteoarthritis, or a prior fall injury.
Legally, these victims are entitled to full compensation. The eggshell skull rule protects these individuals and prevents negligent actors from profiting because of a victim’s medical misfortunes.
Legal Responsibility in Florida
Nursing home owners are usually responsible for fall injuries. Typically, nursing home residents are invitees. Under Florida law, an “invitee” is a person who responds to a direct or indirect invitation and who benefits the landowner in some way.
On a related note, nursing home visitors are probably invitees as well. Although they do not directly benefit the owner, they cheer up residents. Residential happiness clearly benefits nursing home owners.
If the victim was an invitee, the owner had a duty of reasonable care. This duty includes ensuring safety and also inspecting the premises.
Additional damages may be available in premises liability claims if the owner intentionally disregarded a known risk.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
Nursing home owners must take steps to prevent resident falls. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon slip and fall attorney, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).