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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Falls at a nursing facility can cause serious injuries, resulting in chronic pain and permanent damage. For this reason, liable parties should be held accountable when they fail to follow safe guidelines and implement fall prevention plans.

Have you or a loved one fallen at a nursing home? Reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for a free case review. Our Chicago law firm has successfully helped thousands of personal injury and wrongful death clients obtain the compensation they rightfully deserve.

What to Do When a Resident Falls in a Nursing Home

If a nursing home patient falls, loved ones should act quickly to ensure the well-being of the injured resident. 

In the event of a nursing home fall: 

  • Call for help: Call emergency services if necessary and alert the nursing home staff of the accident.
  • Check for injuries: Note any pain locations and visible bruising, this can help with doctors’ evaluations and any future insurance claims.
  • Seek medical care: After the incident, a medical assessment can help prevent long-term problems and provide comfort for the victim.  
  • Stay in contact: Loved ones will want to be informed about the condition of the resident. 
  • Develop a prevention plan: A friend or family member should aid the victim in understanding injury risk factors and prevention methods.  
  • Contact an attorney. Nursing home lawyers will help you gather the necessary paperwork and evidence for making a claim and suing a nursing home for a fall, if necessary. 

Can You Sue a Nursing Home for a Fall?

Yes, you can file a lawsuit if you or a loved one experiences a fall accident at an Illinois nursing home. By federal and state law, nursing and assisted living facilities have an obligation to assess potential dangers and ensure the safety of their residents. 

Nursing home patients and their family members may have grounds for a lawsuit in cases where falls can be considered abuse or neglect. Falls in nursing home facilities may be the result of nursing home negligence when: 

  • Facility staff and managers fail to adequately assess risk factors
  • Dangerous environments are ignored
  • Medicine providers perform errors in dosage or prescriptions or forget the resident’s medication needs entirely
  • Facilities fail to adapt to a resident’s medical condition
  • Staff members intentionally shove, hit, or trip residents
  • Facilities do not offer adequate walking or standing support

Here are a few legal options that can be pursued in nursing home fall cases: 

  • Make a claim via the nursing home’s insurance policy: This is typically the first route in the event of a personal injury. If the nursing facility is liable, their insurance company may award damages to the fall victim.
  • Make a claim via your own insurance policy: In the unlikely event that the nursing home does not have insurance, you can try to make a claim under your own health insurance policy. 
  • File a lawsuit: If the insurance claim is not sufficient, your nursing home fall lawyer may decide it’s best to sue for damages. 

Every case is different, so it’s best to connect with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn more about your options. 

Injury attorney for nursing home falls in Chicago

Damages That Our Chicago Nursing Home Falls Attorneys Can Help You Recover

Claims following fall-related injuries in nursing homes typically compensate for the following damages:

  • Medical bills: This will often come in the form of repayment for any related medical treatment paid following the incident. 
  • Emotional or psychological suffering: Non-economic damages like these often cover emotional distress and general loss of enjoyment in life.
  • Physical distress: Chronic pain related to serious injuries may also be considered when damages are configured.

Financial losses and the level of suffering will vary depending on the case, especially if a wrongful death is involved. Experienced Chicago nursing home falls and fractures lawyers know how to pursue the full extent of victim damages.   

You Have Limited Time to File a Nursing Home Fall Lawsuit

The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim like a nursing home fall is two years in Illinois. That means you have two years from the day the incident was reported to contact an attorney about a claim.

Time moves fast and personal injury cases are complicated. The sooner you make an injury claim with your legal team, the better.

How a Nursing Home Fall Attorney Can Help

When older adults fall in an Illinois nursing home, our lawyers can help by:

  • Providing a free case evaluation to the injury victim or their representative
  • Collecting evidence and details surrounding the injury
  • Filing a claim with the proper insurance company
  • Pursuing compensation for all injury-related medical expenses, that includes future expenses

Connecting with a lawyer should be among the first steps residents take after seeing a doctor for their injuries. A free consultation is an opportunity to discuss the full extent of options for your injured loved one. 

The Time It Takes to Settle Nursing Home Fall Cases

There is no typical timeframe for cases involving fall injuries at a nursing home. That’s because there are a lot of circumstances surrounding these incidents, such as the number of parties involved, the complexity of the incident, and the negotiation process. 

The Cost of Hiring Chicago Nursing Home Falls and Fractures Lawyers

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we work based on a contingency fee. This fee is an arrangement between the lawyer and client in which the client pays no fees until they collect compensation through a court verdict or settlement. 

In the event of a successful case, the nursing home resident or their representative pays the lawyer based on a certain percentage of the settlement or verdict award.

What Is Considered a Fall in a Nursing Home?

The National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators defines a fall as “an unplanned descent to the floor with or without injury to the patient.” All falls should be documented regardless of injury because falls may be the result of nursing home neglect, which will call for evidence in a claim.

Are Nursing Homes Liable for Falls?

Nursing homes may be liable for a fall injury if the fall was a result of physical abuse or neglect by the facility staff. Common reasons why nursing homes are liable for a fall injury include:

  • Poor lighting
  • Loose rugs or slippery floors 
  • Unstable floors
  • Medication errors either by the on-site nurses or prescribers 
  • Inadequate handrails or grab bars
  • Staff failing to adhere to basic duties 
  • Poorly adjusted wheelchairs or beds

Every instance of nursing home abuse or neglect is different, and liability will depend on whether the facility performed due diligence for the safety of the resident. 

Who Else Can Be Liable in a Nursing Home Falls Lawsuit?

Cases of nursing home residents falling are complex, and several parties may be liable in a nursing home fall injury lawsuit when residents suffer injuries.

  • Third-party contractors: This includes maintenance workers and cleaning crews. 
  • Medical professionals: Physicians and nurses may also be liable, even if the resident had a previous medical condition that influenced the fall. 
  • Other residents: Victims may have fallen due to the actions of another resident. 
  • Building owner(s): The building owner has an obligation to maintain a safe and structurally sound.
  • Staff: It’s possible, especially in the case of nursing home abuse, that a nursing home staff member is deemed individually liable.
  • Equipment manufacturers: Medical devices and equipment can sometimes be the reason for a fall injury at a nursing home. 

The Obligation for Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes

Per Illinois and federal regulations, nursing homes must perform due diligence in preventing falls in nursing homes. That includes taking measures like installing adequate lighting, keeping hallways free of obstructions, and maintaining a dry, level floor. 

Ways to Prevent Falls in Nursing Homes

Illinois nursing homes can help prevent falls by:

  • Using proper lights: The lighting should be adequate for the space, whether in a kitchen or a resident’s room.
  • Keeping walkways clean: Obstructions can easily cause fall injuries when they’re not properly managed.
  • Implementing fall prevention plans: Plans should be in place to ensure the safety of all nursing home residents.
  • Communicating risk factors: Risks can vary among elderly nursing home patients, especially those with a history of prior falls. Staff members should know the behavioral, environmental, and biological risk factors of a nursing home resident.
  • Managing medication: Medication procedures should be reviewed regularly to prepare for dizziness or other fall-risk side effects.
  • Installing grab bars: Grab bars are best utilized in bathrooms and hallways.

Some nursing homes may insist on restraining the resident as part of a fall prevention plan. However, physical restraints can cause physical injuries, trauma, and even death, especially in older adults.

Who Regulates Nursing Home Falls Prevention?

In Illinois, nursing home fall prevention is regulated by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The IDPH provides licensing, performs inspections for these facilities, and publishes quarterly reports based on nursing home violations.

The federal body that governs nursing homes is primarily the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which enforces the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (FNHRA).

Are Nursing Homes Required to Report Falls?

The State of Illinois requires long-term care facilities to report any serious incident or accident, which may include fall injuries. If you or a loved one has fallen at a nursing home, seek medical help and then contact a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer. 

Chicago Nursing Home Fall lawyer

Nursing Home Falls Statistics

  • There are around 1.6 million nursing home residents in the United States, and about half of those residents fall yearly. 
  • Approximately one-third of those who fall will do so again at some point during the year. 
  • About 10% of fall victims succumb to serious injuries, many of which are hip fractures. [1]

When Do Most Falls Occur in Nursing Homes?

Nursing or assisted living facility falls typically occur:

  • In the early morning: Morning grogginess can affect many nursing home residents, especially if they’re in a new environment.
  • In the late evening: Residents may also fall during trips to the restroom at night or when waking up in confusion. 
  • Following a meal: Meals can have various effects on the body, oftentimes this is medication dosage related.
  • During maintenance periods: Nursing homes often go through seasons of maintenance, which may create unsafe environments. 

Where Do Most Falls Occur in Nursing Homes?

In terms of location, a fall in a nursing or assisted living facility may occur: 

  • In the resident’s room: Falls in bedrooms are most common, coming in at around 66% of reported falls. [2]
  • In bathrooms: Bathrooms are another common area for nursing home falls, which are often caused by a lack of grab bars or wet floors.
  • In hallways: Hallways may become ignored by staff members, resulting in unkempt walkways or obstructions. 

Of these locations, the private nature of the bathroom poses a unique risk of serious injury to older adults. Unless they’re wearing a call button, it’s unlikely they will get the help they need right away.

The Most Common Fall-Related Injuries

Common injuries due to falls include:

  • Head injuries: Studies show that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain and head injury. 
  • Broken bones: These can include fractures to the ankle, wrist, arm, and other bones.
  • Hip injuries: Falls are the cause of the vast majority of hip fractures, which can have serious repercussions, especially for elderly residents.
  • Dislocations: While less frequent than fractures, dislocations can cause serious long-term pain and suffering for residents.

Whatever the injury, make sure to keep track of medical records and doctors’ notes. This will help you and your law firm be better prepared to seek compensation.

Contact a Chicago Nursing Home Falls Attorney Today!

Chicago nursing homes should properly care for our loved ones. Federal regulations mandate that these facilities ensure their residents are safe from elder abuse, neglect, and dangerous environments that put them at risk. 

When injuries happen and medical bills stack up, you should have a place to turn for advocacy and peace of mind. We can help you hold a nursing facility accountable. Connect with us at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation with our nursing home abuse lawyers. We work on a contingency fee basis, and you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Resources: [1] AHRQ, [2] PubMed

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