Who is Liable in a Nursing Home Fall Accident Case?
The party responsible in a nursing home fall accident case can vary depending on the circumstances. However, nursing homes are obligated to ensure that residents do not suffer preventable harm. Therefore, nursing homes can often be held liable for a fall accident.
Like businesses, nursing home facilities are required by law to provide a reasonable level of care to those on their property (residents). That includes minimizing the risk of fall accidents by providing assistance and resources where necessary. If the owner or staff are negligent by failing in their duty, and causing harm to a resident, the facility can be held liable for the resulting damages. Some examples of nursing home negligence that can lead to a fall accident include:
- Wet floors
- Poor lighting
- Incorrect bed height
- Lack of handrails
- Unsecured carpeting
- Exposed electrical cords
- Abusive physical handling of the residents
- Failing to staff nursing homes adequately
- Failing to screen hired staff members properly
- Inadequate training of staff
- Cutting costs to the point that the care is inadequate
- Inappropriate activities
- Improper use of physical or chemical restraints
- Failing to provide adequate nutrition and fluids
- Medication errors
- Negligent security
- Defective wheelchairs
The injuries from fall accidents in nursing homes can be costly, debilitating, and sometimes even fatal.
How to Prove a Nursing Home is Liable for a Fall Accident
To hold a nursing home liable for a fall accident, the following elements must be established:
Duty of Care
The plaintiff (resident) must establish the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care. Duty of care is relatively easy to prove in this case since the injured person was a resident—which can be done, for instance, with the nursing home admission paperwork.
Breach of Duty of Care
The plaintiff must demonstrate that the duty owed by the facility or a staff member was not provided or was provided in a substandard manner (e.g., failing to install lighting in a hall they knew or should have known was poorly lit).
The defendant’s (at-fault party’s) negligence must have been the direct cause of the plaintiff’s fall injury. In other words, the resident would not have been harmed if not for the nursing home’s actions or lack thereof (e.g., the resident would not have tripped over an obstacle in the hallway had it been properly lit).
Lastly, the plaintiff must have suffered damages due to their fall accident, which are losses that require reimbursement—for example, medical bills, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc.
What To Do if Nursing Home Negligence caused a Loved One’s Fall Accident
If you believe your loved one at a nursing home is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, if you suspect the fall accident was caused by negligence, you can file a complaint by:
- Calling Pennsylvania’s Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505
- Using the online complaint form
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sending a fax to 717-772-2163
- Sending a letter to the following address:
Division of Nursing Care Facilities Director
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Division of Nursing Care Facilities
625 Forster St., Room 526
Health and Welfare Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701
If you call the hotline, an Ombudsman may get involved, who is a person that advocates for nursing home residents’ rights and will fight to get your loved one proper care. Finally, speak with a Scranton, Pennsylvania nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible. Discuss your legal options for holding the nursing home accountable in a free consultation.