Florida Nursing Abuse Attorneys Fighting for Victims of Preventable Falls
State and Federal laws protect fall-risk patients and require nursing homes and hospitals to use fall prevention measures. Failing to prevent falls is a form of patient neglect and the results can be devastating.
Falls in Nursing Homes and Hospitals
Patient’s prone to falling present a serious risk for injuring themselves. A patient may be a fall risk due to their dementia, their inability to walk on their own, due to a recent surgery or because they are dependent on a wheelchair or walker to get around. Hospitals and nursing homes are legally required to know which of their patients are fall risks, and are also legally required to put in fall preventions to stop falls from happening. If your family member suffered a severe injury following a fall inside a nursing home or hospital, you are probably asking yourself, should the fall have happened? Do I have a potential negligence claim against the nursing home or hospital for allowing my loved one to fall?
Every patient fall case against a nursing home, hospital or A.L.F. involves the same tug of war:
Was the patient’s fall preventable? Or was the patient’s fall unavoidable and unpredictable?
If the fall was preventable, the family may bring a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault facility. If the fall was an unforeseeable and unpreventable event, there will not be liability against the nursing home. To make this determination, we will go over some common questions and answers we regularly encounter in patient fall lawsuits versus hospitals and nursing homes. Want to ask a specific facility fall question to our qualified patient fall attorneys? Call us now at 1-844-253-8919 for your free fall claim evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Regarding Falls in Nursing Homes and Hospitals
Are nursing home falls and hospital falls preventable?
Yes, many falls in nursing homes, ALFs and hospitals can be prevented through fall preventative measures. These facilities are required by law to assess each patient for fall risk and to formulate a patient fall plan of care, to prevent falls in the resident.
How are patient fall injuries prevented?
There are several patient fall interventions available to nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities and private duty aides. We outline fall preventative techniques available inside nursing homes and hospitals.
Fall Prevention Options:
- Increased supervision (15 minute checks)
- Explanation: Nurses will round in the patient’s room every 15 minutes to monitor the high fall risk patient. This can be done in conjunction with a toileting schedule.
- Increased supervision (15 minute checks)
- Falling Star Stickers
- Explanation: Patients at risk for falls have star stickers placed on their door, on their wheelchair and over their bed. This identifies the resident as a high fall risk to facility nurses, who in turn, will monitor the patient more closely.
- Low Bed
- Explanation: Placing the bed in the lowest position helps minimize injury if the patient falls out of bed.
- Floor mats
- Explanation: Having soft floor mats next to the patient’s bed helps minimize injury if the patient falls out of bed. A floor mat may also be anti-slip, so the patient does not fall while standing.
- Gait Belt
- Explanation: A gait belt is a device used to safely move a patient. The gait belt helps support the patient during transfers and is used often in physical therapy. The extra support prevents the weakened patient from falling.
- Bed Alarm
- Explanation: A bed alarm is a sensor pad that is usually placed underneath the patient’s mattress. If the patient tries to get out of bed, the bed alarm goes off and nursing can intervene before the patient falls. Bed alarms are especially effective in patients with dementia who forget their limitations.
- Chair alarm
- Explanation: Tab alarms work like bed alarms. Tab chair alarms clip onto the patient while they are in their wheelchair. If the patient tries to get up without assistance, the tab alarm will beep and the facility staff can stop the patient from getting up and falling.
- Toileting Schedule
- Explanation: At risk patients fall when they try to get out of bed or their wheelchair alone. The primary reason at risk patients try to get up is when they must use the bathroom. Nurses should identify fall risk patients and implement a toileting schedule, so the patient is never faced with urgency.
- Room Near Nursing
- Explanation: Fall risk residents should be placed close to the nurse’s station, so that they receive increased supervision to prevent future falls.
- Explanation: Handrails may be placed in the bathroom or along the wall to assist with ambulation.
- Bed rails
- Explanation: Bedrails can be used to keep a confused patient in the bed. This prevents the resident from falling out of bed.
- Falling Star Stickers
Was my mom’s fall preventable?
- This is the ultimate question. The answer boils down to a number of factors, including:
- Was the patient deemed a fall risk?
- If so, what did the facility do to prevent falls?
- Did the patient suffer falls before this fall?
- If so, what did the facility do differently to prevent future falls?
- What fall preventative options does the facility use?
- Of those options, which did the facility employ to prevent falls in this specific patient?
- Was the patient deemed a fall risk?
- As a family member of the fall victim, these are not questions you can answer. To get the answers to these questions, you will need to consult with our nursing home fall attorneys who can gather your loved one’s medical records and obtain the facility’s policies and procedures on fall prevention. Our lawyers are happy to discuss your case with you for free. Call us now at 1-844-253-8919.
Old people fall, so how serious can a nursing home fall be?
Patient falls are the #1 cause of death and serious injury in the elderly. Facilities must employ fall prevention methods to ensure patients do not suffer preventable falls.
How do I know if my family member’s fall could have been prevented?
You have to look at the totality of the circumstances that surround your loved one’s fall injury. Did they trip on something that should not have been there? Were they a known fall risk? If so, what did the facility do to prevent falls and/or reduce injury from falls? Sometimes, the fall itself may not have been prevented, but the injury from the expected fall could have been reduced greatly.
Is it worth bringing a patient fall lawsuit against the nursing home or hospital?
It might be, depending on the injury and the liability associated with the nursing home fall. As we discussed above, determining whether a fall was preventable requires an expert to look at the specific case, as well as the risk factors associated with falls. The expert will look at the totality of the circumstances, and not just the single fall in a vacuum. If the patient suffered two falls the month before the subject fall and the facility did not change the care plan, the liability against the facility will be stronger.Damage-wise, nursing home and hospital falls require significant injury to warrant the bringing of a costly malpractice claim. In other words, if the patient fell but was not seriously injured, our law firm would likely pass on the claim. The most common damages we see in facility fall lawsuits are:
- Broken bones, like hip fractures and femur fractures
- Subdural hematoma and brain bleeds
- Wrongful death (fall or accident being listed on the death certificate)
Following a patient fall, you are probably faced with one of the above grave diagnoses. Many elderly fall victims die from the trauma. So what is the point of bringing a lawsuit if it won’t bring the deceased back to life or un-break their hip? Truthfully, the purpose of a nursing home fall lawsuit is to expose neglect and achieve justice for the fall victim and their family. Statistics indicate that only 1 in 5 incidents of elder abuse get reported. Many of these fall-related injuries are due to facility understaffing. By bringing a patient fall lawsuit against a hospital, nursing home or assisted living, you are getting the management’s attention so this kind of harm does not happen again.
What are patient fall cases worth? What is the settlement value on a nursing home or hospital fall case?
This is entirely different for each case. Our nursing home abuse law firm has handled patient fall cases that settle for $50,000, while other patient fall cases are worth in excess of $1,000,000. It all comes down to the facility’s liability for allowing the fall(s) to occur, and the damages sustained as a result of the fall. Obviously, a brain bleed from a fall is going to be valued higher than a broken pinky.Facility fall case values are derived from two forms of damages. Economic damages and human damages. Economic damages are tangible ‘hard’ damages, like surgery bills, the cost of a new walker, purchasing a hoyer lift, etc. Human damages are intangible damages that you cannot see or touch. These human damages include pain, suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of the ability to enjoy life and loss of consortium (if a spouse is wrongfully injured or killed, the surviving spouse loses their consortium).
If the hospital fall caused my family member’s death, can the family still sue for wrongful death?
Yes. A wrongful death patient fall claim can be brought by the estate of the deceased person, and the statutory survivors can claim wrongful death damages. This allows the victim’s survivors to seek pain and suffering damages associated with losing their mom, wife, daughter, etc.
How do I know if the fall caused the wrongful death?
This may not be something you can ascertain without the help of an expert. Oftentimes, elderly patients suffer a fall which causes a fracture. This fracture can cause a downward decline in their health. This downward spiral creates parallel health problems or activates other health issues in the patient. Maybe they are now bedbound whereas before the fall, they could move around more freely. After the fall, their general health declines and they end up passing away a few months later. Did the fall cause their death? It is difficult to say. To make this determination, our law firm hires the right expert witnesses who can analyze the records and render an opinion on causation of death.Contrast the above scenario with a more direct example. If your family member suffered a fall in a nursing home, developed a brain bleed and then died in the hospital a week later, the fall clearly caused the patient’s death.
Can you help me investigate my family member’s fall in a facility?
At Senior Justice Law Firm, we specialize in elder abuse litigation. Our attorneys have a combined 50 years of experience investigating patient fall cases in nursing homes and hospitals. We have this unique experience with these exact cases, and more importantly, we really care. We understand the rage that a patient neglect case can cause. We know losing someone due to a preventable injury requires someone be held accountable for the neglect.We are happy to speak with you about your options. The consultation is free and there is no obligation. Call us today toll-free at 1-844-253-8919.
How much does it cost to retain your law firm for my patient fall lawsuit?
We don’t require any payment to start work on your case. Our patient fall injury attorneys work 100% on contingency. This means you do not have to pay us anything unless we win your case and make a recovery for you. Typically, once we settle your nursing home fall case, we take 33 1/3 – 40% of the gross settlement or judgment in attorney’s fees, plus costs expended on the file. There are no up front charges or costs, and the consultation is free.
Do I Have a Patient Fall Claim Against the Nursing Home?
If you believe your loved one’s fall in the nursing home or hospital may have been preventable through appropriate supervision, call us to speak with our elder abuse law firm today. The call is free and there is no obligation in speaking with our lawyers. We are here to help guide you through this difficult chapter.
We are available toll-free at 1-844-253-8919. If you prefer typing over talking, you can email us by completing the case evaluator form on this page.