In many instances, yes.
Nursing homes have a duty to protect residents from injury. Residents who have known ambulatory issues (such as difficulty walking, fainting, or moving from a bed to a wheelchair, etc.) should not be left to walk or to move from a bed unattended. Residents with these types of conditions often should be required to use a wheelchair, and staff should always assist in transfers to and from a wheelchair.
When nursing homes fail to comply with these measures, or if there is another condition that causes a resident to trip or fall (such as slick floors or cords that present a tripping hazard), the nursing home may be liable.
The Dangers of Slips and Falls in Nursing Homes
Slips and falls can cause serious health consequences for victims of any age; however, they can be especially devastating for the elderly. Around 36 million older adults fall each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths and countless serious injuries, including (but not limited to):
- Broken or Fractured Bones
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Lacerations and Contusions
Unfortunately, falls are common in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Approximately half of the 1.6 million individuals living in nursing home facilities sustain a fall each year, many of whom sustain debilitating injuries.
When a nursing home resident is injured in a fall, a victim and their family may have a right to pursue compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, other damages, and (if a death results), for the loss of a loved one.
If a family member has been injured in nursing home or long-term care facility, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home fall lawyer to learn about your legal options for seeking justice and financial compensation.
How Much Does an Experienced Nursing Home Fall Lawyer Cost?
At Friedlander and Mosher, P.C., we represent injury victims on a contingency fee basis, meaning we never charge a fee unless we successfully recover compensation through a settlement or jury award. Further, we advance litigation costs and expenses while litigation is ongoing, meaning you needn’t worry about coming out of pocket for court expenses and other fees.
Do Nursing Homes Have A Duty to Protect Residents from Falls?
Long-term care facilities are required to perform comprehensive, interdisciplinary assessments (or “IA”) of all new residents, those who have suffered major medical events (such as strokes), and periodically of all residents to identify risk factors that can contribute to or cause significant injuries (including falls).
Part of the IA includes an assessment concerning a resident’s mobility and balance. If mobility issues are identified, the care plan for the resident must include accommodations to reduce the risk of falling.
What Nursing Home Fall Safeguards May Be Developed?
Although intrinsic factors such as chronic medical conditions and age-related changes cannot be eliminated, they can be managed in a manner to reduce the likelihood of falling. Typical safeguards that may be implemented in a resident’s care plan may include:
- Environmental Modification. Environmental modification includes identifying an remedying conditions that may pose a fall risk, such as poor lighting, wet areas, clutter, uneven floors, and other factors that can contribute to slipping, tripping, or falling.
- Client Education. The clinical guidelines recommend that patients at an increased risk of falling should be educated on falls and fall prevention intervention to increase safety awareness. As an example, it is important for a resident to understand why they are at a high risk of injury if they attempt to move from a bed to a wheel chair unaided so that they will not try to make such a move without staff assistance.
- Periodic Assessments. Every patient should be assessed on admission and after a fall or other significant medical event, as identifying those at risk for falls is critical in order to develop interventions and potentially preventing future falls.
- Strength training can be utilized as a component of a fall intervention program.
- Medication Reviews. Medical personnel should conduct periodic medication reviews, as many long-term care residents take multiple medications, which can place them at increased risk for falls.
- Mobility Restrictions. Mobility restrictions may be implemented for residents at an increased risk of falling. For example, a patient may only be allowed to walk when accompanied by staff.
Can I Sue After a Nursing Home Fall in New York?
Yes, if it appears that the nursing home or staff were negligent. To prevail, it must be shows that a nursing home failed to carry out a duty it owed to the resident, and that this negligence resulted in the fall.
For example, if nursing home personnel fail to answer a resident’s call for assistance, resulting in a frail, unsteady patient attempting to walk unaided and falling, the nursing home may be liable for the resulting injuries. As another example, if a facility does not conduct an initial or follow-on IA and a resident falls, it may be liable for failing to identify and/or implement appropriate safeguards.
As nursing home fall attorneys with decades of experience, we can assess the facts of your case and assist in identifying all potentially liable parties, as this provides the most significant chances of securing maximum compensation.
What Are Common Causes of Nursing Home Falls in New York?
There are numerous ways that nursing home neglect or negligence could result in a fall, including:
- Failing to Conduct an Interdisciplinary Assessment – this is required to determine what residents require assistance or wheelchairs
- Failing to Implement Fall Safeguards Outlined in an IA – sometimes an IA has been developed which might, for instance, require that a resident always receive assistance when moving from a bed to a wheelchair. Negligence can then occur when the nursing home staff does not provide the required assistance.
- Lack of Supervision – those who are in wheelchairs should be supervised so that any required assistance can be promptly provided.
- Slick or Uneven Floors – just as in commercial facilities, recently washed floors, floors that have spills, or uneven floors all present slip and fall hazards for those who are ordinarily able to walk unaccompanied.
- Exposed Cords and Other Tripping Hazards – any such hazards need to be identified and rectified before injury occurs.
- Improperly Trained Staff – not training staff on how to move a resident to or from a wheelchair, or how to assist a resident who may be allowed to walk with assistance.
Understaffing – often residents are injured because they are frustrated and impatient when staff are not available to help them, especially if they want to use the restroom or to move to or from a wheelchair.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Nursing Home Fall in New York?
Under New York Law, injury victims typically have three years from the date of a fall to file a claim, which is referred to as the statute of limitations. Failure to file by this deadline can result in a claim being barred.
Schedule a Free Consultation with A Nursing Home Fall Injury Lawyer Today.
If a loved one fell in a nursing home and suffered injuries, we invite you to call us for a free case evaluation. If you are considering filing a claim, it is critical to begin planning for legal action as soon as you suspect deficient care has been administered. At Friedlander and Mosher, P.C., we can build your case from the start, with the goal of seeking maximum compensation for your loved one’s injuries (or for your family, if your loved one died).
We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no fee for our services unless we are successful in recovering compensation through a settlement offer or jury award.
Call today for a free consultation to learn about your legal options for seeking maximum legal compensation.
 Keep on Your Feet – Preventing Older Adult Falls, CDC, Keep on Your Feet— https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html .
 The Falls Management Program: A Quality Improvement Initiative for Nursing Facilities, AHRQ, https://www.ahrq.gov/patient-safety/settings/long-term-care/resource/injuries/fallspx/man1.html.