Many Floridians go to skilled nursing facilities to recover from a serious injury or illness. They plan to stay for a few weeks and then go home. But in many cases, that temporary stay becomes permanent. 60 percent of these individuals fall, and most of these victims can never live independently again.
A Brandon slip and fall attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. Perhaps more importantly, a claim for damages publicizes the situation at the nursing home. That publicity often forces long-term care facilities to make needed changes. In other words, your damages claim may prevent future fall victims.
What Causes Serious Care Facility Falls?
For the most part, Florida law and Hillsborough County jurors emphasize personal responsibility in slip-and-fall claims. But that’s assuming the victim was otherwise young and healthy. Nursing home fall victims usually do not fit into these categories.
As people age, they often experience Age-related Macular Degeneration. AMD clouds the straight-ahead vision that most people count on to avoid hazards, like wet spots on the floor, and maintain proper balance. Many times, the symptoms are so mild that the person only has issues in emergency situations.
Therefore, many long-term care residents are unable to see hazards which other people can see. Furthermore, even if they do see them, they lack the coordination to walk around or otherwise avoid them.
The environment also contributes to many nursing home falls. To accommodate as many patients as possible, many of these facilities are constantly under construction. That means there are lots of uneven floors, loose handrails, debris in walkways, and other hazards. Furthermore, due to the crowded nature of these facilities, many are dangerously understaffed. There may be no one to redirect residents away from construction zones, especially during weekends and holidays.
In terms of injury severity, many assisted living residents have pre-existing conditions. Most of them would not be there in the first place if they did not have an illness or injury.
Generally, if a fall aggravates a pre-existing condition or makes an existing injury worse, the victim is entitled to full compensation.
Your Claim for Damages
Duty and knowledge are the two primary components of a claim for fall injury damages. Victim/plaintiffs must establish both these elements by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
In terms of duty, most care facility fall victims are invitees. An invitee is a person who has permission to be on the land and whose presence benefits the landowner. Residents are definitely invitees, because they produce an economic benefit. Guests are arguably invitees as well. They lift the spirits of a resident, and that benefits the nursing home owner.
If the victim was an invitee, the owner had a duty of reasonable care. This duty involved making the premises safe and frequently inspecting the premises to make sure this standard is maintained.
In terms of knowledge, victim/plaintiffs may establish either actual knowledge or constructive knowledge (should have known). Evidence of actual knowledge usually means an internal email or other such document which indicates that there is a floor or other hazard. Evidence of constructive knowledge usually involves the time-notice rule. The longer the hazard existed, the greater the possibility of constructive knowledge.
Reach Out to Tenacious Attorneys
Falls at long-term care facilities often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon slip and fall lawyer, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).