Obtaining Compensation for Nursing Home Falls
Falls are the dark side of increased physical activity among older people. Since the 1990s, the number of fatal elderly falls has increased 60 percent. As a result, falls are one of the leading causes of nursing home admissions. Sadly, most residents who go to nursing homes to recover from falls sustain another such injury, usually due to the nursing home’s negligence. Vulnerable individuals, like elderly people, are entitled to special protection under the law.
As a result, a Carlsbad personal injury lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The nursing home owner, which is usually an out-of-state holding company, is financially responsible for damages. This fact adds an additional lawyer of complexity to an already intricate matter.
Building a Case
To build a case, an Oceanside personal injury lawyer starts with the cause of the fall. Multiple factors often combine to cause a fall.
Usually, property hazards, like wet spots on sidewalks or loose handrails, substantially cause falls. The victim’s pre-existing condition, such as poor eyesight, often contributes to these incidents. Generally, substantial cause is all that matters.
Generally, property owners have a duty of care to address and remove property hazards. The following factors apply:
- Property location,
- Type of business,
- Likelihood of serious injury,
- Cost to contain the hazard,
- Landowner’s knowledge of the hazard, and
- Extent of owner’s control.
All these factors point to a high duty of care in nursing home fall claims. Long-term care facilities are filled with vulnerable victims, the owner has exclusive control over common areas, and fall hazards are inexpensive to address.
The medical evidence is almost as important. These documents contain diagnosis, treatment, and other basic information. These documents often don’t contain treatment notes that indicate the victim’s pain level or predictions for future medical care. To obtain such data, attorneys usually work with independent doctors who review the medical records and eyewitnesses who see how a fall affects a person.
This evidence usually helps an attorney determine a claim’s settlement value, which is basically like the asking price of a new car. Once that value is in place, meaningful settlement negotiations can begin.
Insurance companies use legal defenses to chip away at the settlement value. Standard defenses in fall claims usually aren’t effective in nursing home fall cases.
Comparative fault might be the most common defense. Quite simply, an insurance company lawyer argues the victim didn’t watch where s/he was going. So, the nursing home owner isn’t legally responsible for damages.
Most older adults have gait and vision issues. Since they shuffle their feet when they walk, when they stumble, they cannot regain their balance. Furthermore, many older people cannot see hazards, like a wet floor, that other people could spot. That’s especially true if the room or outside area was dark.
Assumption of the risk is an offshoot of comparative fault. Many owners think if they display a “Caution Wet Floor” or other warning sign, they aren’t responsible for damages. However, this defense only applies if the victim could see the sign. As mentioned, vision issues often make older adults unable to see such signs.
Connect With a Tough-Minded San Diego County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oceanside, contact the Pursley Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.