Serious falls send quite a few older people to area nursing homes. Additionally, subsequent falls keep many people at these long-term care facilities. Fortunately, the families do not have to pick up the pieces all by themselves. Substantial compensation may be available in these cases, including money for economic damages, like medical bills, and noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering.
Generally, the nursing home is legally responsible for these damages. The respondeat superior doctrine states that employers are liable for the negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of their employment. Nursing home owners also have a duty to maintain their premises in such a way that prevents, not encourages, falls.
What Causes Nursing Home Falls?
Simply stated, many nursing home residents fall because they cannot see where they are going. And, they have a hard time recovering their balance after a stumble.
Age-related Macular Degeneration is very common in people over 65. Tiny fat deposits accumulate around the eyes, blurring the straight-ahead vision that people need to walk straight and avoid obstacles. Many times, the symptoms are so mild that the lack of vision is not a problem, except in low-light conditions.
This same malady affects balance. We count on our eyes to orient us. If that function falters, it is difficult to regain balance after something simple like stubbing a toe.
Poor supervision causes other nursing home falls. Many nursing home residents use their hips for leverage when they get up or sit down. Over time, that activity weakens the hip bone. It then breaks suddenly and unexpectedly.
If the facility had adequate qualified staff, such incidents would probably not happen.
Your Claim for Damages
Walking hazards and lack of supervision both qualify as dangerous property conditions. Typically, property owners have a duty to ensure that the building is safe.
This high duty of care applies to both nursing home residents and their guests, like family members. Arguably, all these people are invitees under Texas law. An invitee is a person who responds to a direct or indirect invitation and whose presence benefits the owner.
Nursing home residents create an economic benefit. Nursing home visitors create an indirect benefit. Visitors make residents happy, and happy residents make life easier for nursing home owners.
Additionally, a Fort Worth personal injury attorney must prove that the owner knew about the dangerous property condition. That proof might be:
Direct evidence, like an unpaid repair invoice, or
Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known).
The victim/plaintiff must establish knowledge by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
When people fall in nursing homes, they generally suffer serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Tarrant County and nearby jurisdictions.