Slip and Fall Accident Claims in Omaha Nursing Homes
One of the worst fears for an elderly person is falling. As we age, it becomes more difficult to maintain balances as bones, muscles, and joints all lose their strength. By a certain age, falling can mean more than simple bruises and embarrassment; it can often be fatal, especially if you suffer a head wound or neck trauma. This is why nursing homes and long-term care facilities have to take great care to protect residents from falls. A defective bed rail, wet floor, or loose carpet is all that it takes to severely injury a nursing home resident.
If you or your loved one slip and fell at a nursing home due to someone else’s negligence, then you may be eligible for compensation. In addition to your medical treatment for your fall injuries, compensation can include long-term care, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. But in order to recover these costs in a claim, you will need to work with a skilled Omaha nursing home slip and fall attorney at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. To learn if you have a case, contact our office at (402) 505-8234 and schedule a free consultation.
It is no secret that falling is extremely dangerous for the elderly. It is sometimes treated as a joke in film and television, but there is nothing funny about a severely injured nursing home resident. Because of their limited coordination, many residents cannot quickly catch themselves on nearby furniture during a fall. This means they often have to suffer under the full force of a fall, which can be deadly from certain heights or if they strike any furniture on their way down. Slippery steps on a staircase or a low step into a building can be just enough to cause a fall, often leading to traumatic injuries.
The reason slip and fall injuries are so much more severe for nursing home residents comes down to two related factors. First, their bodies are not as stable as they used to be. Bones, joints, and muscles all wear down over time, meaning they cannot sustain much damage in a fall. Even a simple slip on a loose patch of carpet can prove disastrous.
But the other factor that much be considered is their overall health. Many residents have compromised immune systems, meaning they are more prone to diseases and infections. If one suffered a broken hip in a fall and required surgery to correct it, there would be a higher chance that they’d develop a surgical infection. Even a minor surgery presents a higher risk of complications in the long run for the elderly. The prospects of dealing with a fall injury are especially troubling when you add in the possibility that it was caused by a negligent nursing home staff member.
Nursing homes are aware of the serious dangers presented by falls, which is why facilities are often expected to have the highest standards for residents. This means properly constructing staircases and entrance walkways, keeping carpets held down to prevent trips, cleaning up any spills or safety hazards, and installing railways in bathrooms and showers to help residents stand upright. However, not every facility meets these standards, and it is not uncommon for nursing home staff to create or fail to respond to fall hazards.
Common causes of elderly falls in nursing homes include:
- Wet floors
- Loose carpet
- Unmaintained staircases
- Unkept entranceways
- Poorly installed bed rails
- A lack of, or improperly installed, safety rails in bathrooms
- A lack of wet floor signs
- A lack of supervision, often leading to neglect and wandering
- Overmedicating residents, making them dizzy
- Lack of lighting
- Poorly maintained wheelchairs and walkers
More often than not, these simple tripping or slipping hazards can lead to costly injuries that can affect the resident for the rest of their life or, sadly, cause their death.
When you are younger, most falls have no lasting effects on your health, but that is almost never true for the elderly. Even a simple fracture in the wrist can severely impact a nursing home resident’s day-to-day life, all-the-while being incredibly painful to recover from. But fractures are not the only danger.
During a slip or trip and fall accident, a resident can suffer severe trauma, including:
Head wounds: Falls account for 80% of all traumatic brain injuries among the elderly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When a resident falls, they can find it difficult to protect their head, which could collide with hard surfaces like bed frames, tables, or tiled floors. A traumatic brain injury involving the elderly can go well beyond a concussion, sometimes leading to brain bleeds and permanent damage.
Broken backs: We often take for granted how invaluable our spinal cord is. It controls everything from how we move to our ability to feel in our toes to our ability to breathe comfortably. For older adults, the bones of the spinal cord can become more brittle, meaning a broken back is a real possibility after a fall. Even a minor spinal cord injury could leave them with chronic pain for the rest of their life.
Hip fractures and dislocations: It is not uncommon to hear elderly residents complain about hip problems, especially given that many of them develop arthritis in their knees, forcing them to sit for long periods. But a fall can push these issues much further, as an elderly resident’s hips bones are more worn down. This can mean they can severely fracture in a fall, often leading to invasive and sometimes dangerous surgeries.
These injuries are often life changing, as surgery and rehabilitation are often more difficult for elderly residents. They may find it hard to complete prescribed physical therapy to regain muscle strength or full range of motion. But at the end of the day, the fall would not have happened to begin with if the nursing home had taken proper care of your loved one.
If a nursing home caused your loved one’s fall through an act of negligence, such as failing to monitor them or clean up tripping hazards, then you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the facility. In the state of Nebraska, nursing home administrators and staff must take every precaution to prevent a resident’s injuries; otherwise, they can be found liable in a premises liability claim.
Within Nebraska, premises liability laws require that property owners and employees create safe environments for all guests and residents. When applied to nursing homes, this means that the staff has a legal duty to identify safety hazards such as spills or dangerous staircases and fix them in a timely manner. In addition, they must also take every precaution to warn residents and guests of a hazard, which can include putting up wet floor signs, blocking off an unsafe hallway, or moving residents to rooms that have properly installed railings.
In a premises liability claim, there are two ways to prove a nursing home acted negligently. First, you can demonstrate that a staff member or administrator was aware of a safety hazard and failed to notify residents of the danger or fix it. Second, you can outline how the nursing home staff should have reasonably known about a safety hazard, such as by performing routine inspections, and, due to a failure to fix the hazard, is liable for any injuries sustained because of it.
Premises liability claims are often extremely complicated, as much of the evidence is owned by the nursing home itself. To determine if they acted negligently, you may have to speak to other residents and staff, collect surveillance footage, review maintenance reports, and investigate previous safety violations. This can all be difficult while you are focusing on helping your loved one recover and deal with their injury. Instead, let an attorney handle the heavy lifting for you.
At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our legal team has the experience, knowledge, and skill you need to pursue a premises liability claim against a nursing home. With years of experience, our founding attorney understands both sides of a claim, from how to successfully file one, to how a facility will fight back against giving you proper compensation. Using this knowledge, we can thoroughly review your case to determine if the nursing home acted negligently and is liable for your loved one’s injuries.
As all claims are subject to a statute of limitations, you may only have two years from the date of your loved one’s injuries to file a claim. That is why talking to an experienced Omaha personal injury attorney as early as possible is so important. Our team can immediately review your case, discuss all of your options, and explain to you your rights in a free consultation. If we take you on as a client, you can trust that we will diligently fight for your loved one’s right to compensation. To get started on a claim, contact our office at (402) 505-8234.
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