If you’ve ever had to care for an older parent or relative in your home, you know how stressful it can be. They are unsteady on their feet, and the constant fear that they will fall and injure themselves has you sitting up in bed at the slightest sound. Eventually, you realize that your home isn’t equipped to meet their needs, and so you move them into a home that is better suited for their mobility issues. We all assume that nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide a safe environment for our elders. Who is at fault when they fall and get injured?
Negligence in the Nursing Home Context
We’ve written previously about how to define negligence, but to review, someone is negligent when they fail to act with the same level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. It’s important to note the phrase “under the same circumstances” in order to understand that what may be negligence in one situation is not negligence in another. To apply it to the context of this post, what may constitute negligence in a nursing home may not be considered negligence in an apartment context. Here are some examples of potential negligence in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities:
- Loose handrails
- Mopping a tile floor at a time when there is a lot of foot traffic, even if you put out a “wet floor” sign
- Poor lighting
- Tripping hazards such as wrinkles in a carpet or rug
These issues may not rise to the level of negligence in an apartment complex. But because the residents are elderly and are at a higher risk of falling, nursing homes must meet a higher standard of care.
What if They Didn’t Know?
Looking at the examples above, you might think it’s unfair that a nursing home should be liable for someone falling due to a light bulb that was burned out. When determining whether a nursing home should be held liable for an injury, an experienced personal injury attorney will ask the following questions:
- Did nursing home personnel create the hazard? To use the example above, maybe they directed the maintenance staff to remove a light fixture for repair and did not warn the residents or provide alternate lighting.
- Did the nursing home personnel know about the hazard, and fail to take action? Residents had previously reported that the light in the area was poor and it was hard to watch your step.
- Should nursing home personnel have known about the hazard? No one reported it, but maintenance staff does not routinely check for burned-out bulbs or malfunctioning fixtures.
If the nursing home truly did not know, could not have known, and didn’t create the hazard, then they would not be held liable for the victim’s injury.
Contact an Atlanta Slip, Trip, and Fall Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation
If one of your loved ones has been injured in a fall in a nursing home, a lawyer can help you determine whether the nursing home should be held liable. Our elders deserve our best care, and you can help them get the compensation they deserve. The attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have been helping victims of nursing home negligence since 1992. If you’d like a free consultation, call us at 404-255-6677 or email us via our online contact form.