If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury as the result of a fall within a nursing home, a Sarasota nursing home law firm may be able to advise you of your rights under Florida law, and also when and how to prepare a claim for damages.
Causes of Falls
A typical 100-bed nursing home will document between 100 and 200 falls among residents each year. Many residents fall more than once within any 12-month period, while many falls go unreported. The most common causes of nursing home falls are:
- Muscle atrophy/weakness and/or gait problems. These account for 24% of falls in nursing homes
- Environmental hazards, such as slippery floors, inadequate lighting, faulty wheelchairs or incorrect bed height. These are responsible for between 16% and 27% of falls.
- Medications that affect the central nervous system (sedatives, drugs taken for anxiety, etc.) can also increase the risk of falls. For three days after one of these drugs is changed, the risk of a fall increases for a three-day period every time.
As we grow older, the density of our bones declines. Consequently, each year we age, our susceptibility to breaking a bone in a fall increases. The consequences of a fracture also increase in terms of length of recovery, long-term pain, and disability. Many people in nursing homes have chronic illnesses, which makes them even more vulnerable to suffering a fracture in a fall.
Knowing that nursing home residents are more vulnerable to falls, there are measures that the owners can take to reduce their frequency. These are not necessarily expensive and include:
- Installing grab rails in bathrooms, installing hand rails in the hallways, lowering the heights of beds, and elevating toilet seats
- Educating staff
- Reviewing medications and, where possible, putting them on drugs that are less likely to impair their balance and mobility.
- Implementing exercise programs to improve residents’ balance and muscle strength
When Should You Contact a Sarasota Nursing Home Law Firm
Ideally, you should make contact as soon as possible after the fall has occurred. You will need advice on what questions to ask, what medical tests should be performed and generally how to be have in a manner that will not jeopardize your case. Additionally, Florida is like most states in having a statute of limitations within which you must file your claim for damages. Here, this is a fairly generous four years from the date of the accident. Some people do not become aware of a serious injury arising from a fall until some time later. Florida law can accommodate this by extending the filing period, but it is essential that you get legal advice on this matter. You won’t necessarily get everything you ask for in terms of compensation. Florida is a Pure Comparative Fault state. This means that if you are found to be partially at fault for the fall, the damages awarded to you will be correspondingly reduced. These are just a few of the reasons why you need legal assistance in the event of a nursing home fall. In order for a lawsuit of this kind to succeed, you have to prove that the other party acted negligently. You may also need advice on what amount of damages to seek. Your attorney may instruct you to keep copies of all correspondence with medical professionals and document all expenses associated with the accident. A bone fracture may require intensive nursing cover and physiotherapy, for example.
Contact Giroux & Associates Inc, a Sarasota nursing home law firm, on (727) 895-5399 to discuss your nursing home fall and and how you may get compensation.