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Is a Nursing Home Liable If Residents Slip and Fall?

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, when a resident in a nursing home falls, that facility may be held liable. Statistically, the average nursing home will report a couple hundred incidents of resident falls each year, while a substantial number probably go unreported. The risk of falling is much more common among senior citizens, so nursing home staff must be diligent about preventing these incidents.

If a fall does happen, the facility isn’t automatically at-fault. From a legal perspective, the nursing home facility and/or staff must have done something to contribute to the slip and fall, through either careless actions or negligence. 

Assessing Resident Risk

Nursing facilities have an obligation to their residents, and must assess the needs of each person at the time of their intake. A unique and individualized care plan must be set forth so the wellbeing and safety of that resident is protected. If a resident needs a walker, mobility aid, bars and rails to hold onto, toilet height adjusted, and installed cushioned surfaces, then this should be provided for them within a reasonable time frame after arriving into the facility. Nursing staff and doctors may evaluate the resident and their risk for falls based on several factors, including: 

  • Loss of balance and strength overall
  • Restricted mobility
  • Dementia
  • Poor vision
  • Medications that impair the senses

When prescribing medications to residents, nursing home doctors must consider the impact that it could have on the senior’s motor skills and senses. For instance, some prescriptions may cause side effects such as decreased reaction time, drowsiness, and dizziness. These three side effects alone can contribute to a slip and fall accident.

Slip and Falls and Liability

Even in the most skilled nursing facility, not every slip and fall can be prevented. And, not every fall will cause the resident significant harm either. In these instances where there was no injury and the facility wasn’t at-fault, a lawsuit is not unnecessary. However, if the care home or an employee failed to prevent a fall or acted negligently, then the facility may be held liable. Examples of situations that may qualify for a liability lawsuit against a nursing home include: 

  • Failing to modify a resident’s care plan when needed
  • Using improper lifting techniques
  • Failing to offer care that is described in the resident’s care plan
  • Hiring workers without a full background check who end up harming a resident
  • Failing to provide sufficient training to care staff, which led to a resident being injured 
  • Not having enough lighting in key areas, which prevented a resident from seeing debris on the floor, puddle of liquid, or other hazards
  • Staff failing to abide by protocols or the facility failing to enforce such rules

If any of the information above sounds like something either you or your senior loved one went through in a nursing home, then now is the time to consult with a nursing home lawyer in Harrisonburg, VA to see if you have a case for liability. Injured senior residents may be entitled to financial compensation for the slip and fall accident. 

Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and falls at nursing homes.