If your loved one was injured in a fall at their nursing home residence, you may wonder what legal options you have. Clients call our attorneys to ask, can you sue for a fall in a nursing home in New York? The short answer is: yes. While each case is different and requires some investigation, if a fall takes place at a nursing home, it may be grounds for legal action.
Like all businesses, nursing homes are required to maintain their premises in a safe and professional manner. These facilities should always provide their residents with the devotion and attentiveness they deserve. However, this is not always the case, and thousands of our seniors suffer serious injuries each year as a result of failure of the facilities to follow minimum safety standards. Sometimes the families need to contact a lawyer to determine what to do after their elderly relative was injured in a fall at their nursing home.
Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes Can Lead to Falls
Over 1.5 million Americans live in nursing homes today. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect are too common. In fact, over 40% of those living in nursing homes have reportedly being abused, while more than 95% have reported neglect. In the Buffalo region specifically, 17 of the nearest 41 nursing homes have a federal ranking of 3 stars or below, while 9 are ranked as having 2 stars or below, meaning below average in terms of quality of care. The facilities are ranked from 1 to 5, with one being the lowest, and five being the highest, by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Instances of residents slipping and falling are especially common in nursing homes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that over 3 million people ages 65 and above are treated in emergency health departments as a result of fall injuries each year, while approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die annually as a direct result of slipping and falling. Thousands more suffer serious and disabling injuries with permanent suffering as a result.
Nursing Homes Should Have Fall Prevention Plans
Federal law requires that nursing homes “must be administered in a manner that enables it to use its resources effectively and efficiently to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident” (42 C.F.R §483.70). As such, all nursing homes should have a fall prevention plan created for its residents.
A fall prevention care plan at a nursing home is an essential plan where those involved in various specialized disciplines—including nurses, physical therapists, treating physicians, etc.—form a specific and disciplinary approach to maintain the safety of the building’s premises.
This plan should incorporate all of the potential risks that may lead to instances of nursing home residents slipping and falling. Such risks come from a multitude of factors, including a facility’s physical layout, lighting levels, floor plan, and the basic mobility patterns of the nursing home’s residents.
If your mother or father fell at a nursing home and you don’t know what caused the fall, the following may be helpful. To maintain a minimum level of care, regulations mandate that a comprehensive patient assessment be completed within 14 days of a resident’s admission. This assessment will provide indication of whether an individual is more or less at risk of falling. Should a nursing home resident be deemed more at-risk of falling, staff are required to develop an individualized care-taking plan. Once finalized, the individualized plan should be effectively relayed to all staff-members in charge of supporting the resident and reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it is sufficient to prevent future falls.
How Nursing Homes Should Take Action to Prevent Falls
Ideally, an individualized care plan will include a number of specified concerns that are in accordance with a resident’s needs. Such a nursing home fall prevention plan may include any of the following steps staff should take:
- Ensuring floors are clear of debris or loose objects
- Determining whether medications lead to lethargy, drowsiness, or other potentially dangerous side-effects
- Providing assistance with mobility
- Safely securing medical cords to nearby walls
- Requiring adequate lighting in areas where residents are more at-risk of falling
- Providing physical therapy programs to maintain strength
- Maintaining timed toileting schedules
- Installing bed alarms to alert caretakers of when a resident may be standing without required assistance
- Ensuring all rugs and carpeting are secured, in-place, and incapable of being tripped on
- Providing beds lower to the ground with floor pads and safety cushions in-place should a fall occur.
Certain nursing home patients should be deemed as having a much higher risk of slipping and falling than others — such as residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, those on prescription medication, and those with high or low blood pressure.
Successful application of an individualized care plan not only requires strong communication of the risk factors of slipping and falling, but also ongoing education for nursing home staff-members. Consequently, the development, implementation, and review of the individualized care plan is where the issue of legal liability arises. Data about citations of nursing homes that have failed to provide adequate and safe care is available online. You can also learn about ratings and citations of nursing homes in the Buffalo area from this list created by our team at Feroleto Law.
Even with certain hazards existing that may render a fall more likely, nursing home staff often fail to properly supervise or in their capacities as caretakers.
This is typically the result of a deviation from the resident’s fall-risk assessment, which requires continuous and individualized attention for each resident.
The Consequences of a Fall at a Nursing Home
You May Have Cause to Bring a Lawsuit Related to a Nursing Home Fall
Because age increases the likelihood of life-threatening injuries at a senior care facility, the consequences of a nursing home resident falling can be permanently damaging. The most common injuries include fractured hips, wrists, arms, or head trauma. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that of the 800,000 patients who are hospitalized each year because of a fall, at least 300,000 are hospitalized for hip fractures. Therefore, hip pads and protectors are often crucial to have in place in certain areas where falls are more likely to transpire.
If your loved one was injured, you may wonder if you can bring a lawsuit for a fall at a nursing home. The best way to know if you have a legal case is to ask our attorneys. You, as a child or grandchild of the nursing home patient, aren’t expected to be familiar with all risk factors. It may make sense to call our Buffalo nursing home abuse and negligence lawyer at Feroleto Law. Our attorney can often answer many of your questions, or potentially look further into the case of your loved one’s injuries from their fall at the nursing home.
How to Prove Negligence in a Nursing Home Fall Lawsuit
Researching Who is Liable in a Nursing Home Fall
If such an incident occurs, it should be determined whether the nursing home and its staff followed the appropriate standard of care while performing services for its residents. Sometimes the nursing home provides insufficient staffing for the workers to have enough time to provide proper care to our loved ones. This can be evaluated through evidence that may point to whether the nursing home company unreasonably put a resident at direct risk of injury from a fall. Then, at attorney can evaluate if such negligence caused their injuries.
To sue a nursing home for slips, trips, and falls, you must show that the nursing home is negligent and liable. To prove that negligence exists, it must be found that:
- he nursing home owed a duty to the resident
- he nursing home or its staff breached that duty as a result of negligent caretaking
- he breach of duty led to injuries sustained by the resident
- he injury resulted in a loss to the resident or a loved one
In a nursing home fall lawsuit, when nursing home negligence is proven, there will be a damage award and reimbursement for pain and suffering and medical or other expenses. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a resident’s loved one may be able to receive additional damages, including the costs for a funeral, other related expenses and permanent loss of companionship.
In a legal action for nursing home injuries, your legal team may provide various pieces of evidence to support a finding that the nursing home was negligent in its caretaking, including the nursing facility’s records and an independent evaluation from a medical expert. The testimony of a medical expert can show what proper procedures are called for in a given situation, and whether a deviation from those procedures was unreasonable and caused or contributed to a resident’s injuries.
What Do You Do When a Loved One Falls in a Nursing Home?
Your First Step Is Finding Legal Help
If your loved one fell in a nursing home, it is possible that negligence was the cause. You’ll need an experienced attorney on your side to fully research your case and determine if you can sue the nursing home for the fall. If you believe your loved one’s injuries in a fall were caused due to nursing home negligence, call the nursing home lawyers at Feroleto Law at 716-854-0700 for a confidential consultation. In addition to bringing to light what happened in the fall that caused your loved one’s injuries, you may well help prevent injuries to others at that nursing home in the future.
Attorney John Feroleto
Attorney John Feroleto understands the value of hard work. He is known in the community and by his peers for his willingness to work and go the extra mile. Other lawyers often ask John to handle their trial matters to maximize clients’ recovery. Trial lawyers know who the best trial lawyers are. He was also named Trial Attorney of the Year in 2012 by the Western New York Affiliate of New York State Trial Lawyers Association. [ Attorney Bio ]