You could file a civil lawsuit against the assisted living facility, administrators, employees, visitors, or other residents based on negligence if their negligent behavior led to someone’s injuries.
In most incidents, the assisted living facility or nursing home could be held legally and financially accountable for a resident’s injuries or death.
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, have a comprehensive understanding of pursuing and resolving preventable fall claims. Let our legal team at (888) 424-5757 carefully review your evidence and help you file a claim.
Let us help determine if another party’s negligence caused your damages. Discuss your compensation claim with a Chicago assisted living injury attorney who would protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Life in an Assisted Living Home
Many elderly citizens move into an assisted living facility to ensure that competent nurses and nurse aides meet all their needs in a safe environment.
Assisted living facilities (ALFs) provide various services and help to the aging, disabled, or those needing minimal care and services.
Some of the services include:
- Supervising the dispensing of medications
- Providing resident meals
- Helping with daily living activities, including chores and shopping
- Providing linen changes, house cleaning, and laundry assistance
- Providing safe transportation to shopping and doctor visits
- Planning and managing social events on and off the premises
In most states, an assisted living facility is legally liable for a resident’s injury if they slip and fall on slippery surfaces, wet floors, icy sidewalks, or other areas around the facility. Accumulating snow must be removed from the sidewalks and parking lots, where the shared interior areas must remain free from clutter and debris.
The assisted living facility may also be held legally liable if a resident slipped in their apartment if the facility broke the general housing or housekeeping contract.
Sometimes, the contract stipulates that facility workers check on every resident daily. Any failure to do so could create a liability.
Assisted-Living Facilities Best Practices
Assisted living facilities offer fewer services than nursing homes based on the resident’s necessary care. To ensure everyone’s safety, the assisted living facility or nursing home administration must follow the best practices to prevent a fall from occurring.
These practices include:
- Keeping the public area clear of any debris, obstruction, or slippery surfaces
- Ensuring that the floors in public and private bathrooms are not slippery or wet
- Installing and maintaining bathroom handrails and durable handrails in the common area walkways
- Installing and maintaining an electronic alert system allowing every resident an easy way to summon immediate help should they slip, trip, or fall in their apartment
- Developing, enforcing, and implementing fall prevention strategies
- Hiring sufficient employees on duty to monitor areas to prevent falling dangers and hazards
- Adequately training all employees for an immediate response once a fall happens
- Ensuring that all residents required to use mobility assistance devices do so at all times, including electric scooters, wheelchairs, canes, and walkers
In the event of a fall, the workers must provide adequate care and treatment based on established standards of care to protect the resident from further harm.
An Assisted Living Home Versus a Nursing Home
Senior citizens, the disabled, rehabilitating, and the infirm have various long-term care options in nearly every community to assist with their health care and hygiene assistance.
With help, many of these individuals may live semi-independent lives under the care and supervision of others paid to ensure their safety and well-being.
Typical differences between an assisted living facility, home care, and skilled nursing home include:
- Home Health Care (HHC) – Nearly every senior citizen and disabled resident wants to maintain their independence for as long as possible, choosing to receive care and assistance with their daily activities at home. A home care worker typically provides various services, including assistance with chores, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and transportation to and from doctor’s offices and appointments.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) – This all-inclusive around-the-clock service typically provides residents with services to ensure healthcare professionals meet their medical needs and non-medical professionals give hygiene assistance.
- Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) – The management provides middle-ground services that are more than home health care but less than a skilled nursing facility. Many residents live in their on-site apartment versus a room while accessing social events and apartment meal prep, cleaning, and laundering.
An assisted living facility would provide meal preparation, minimal medical care, medication supervision, health monitoring, household chore assistance, and socialization on and off the premises.
Suing a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility for Negligence
Many cases involving negligent falling in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are built on inappropriate behavior by doctors, nurses, nursing aides, and the administration.
Sometimes, administrators failed to follow established hiring practices, or the Director of Nursing’s negligence in supervising the staff led to the resident’s harm or wrongful death.
Staff members could be negligent when caring for residents by not keeping all areas clutter-free, administering the wrong medication, or creating potential slip-and-fall accident hazards.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly a fourth of all falls occur in nursing homes and assisted living areas, resulting from gait or walking problems and muscle weakness.
More than a fourth of all falls injuring residents are caused by environmental hazards, including slippery surfaces, improperly maintained or fitted wheelchairs, low lighting, and broken handrails. Taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage could also increase the potential risk of falling or suffering fall-related injuries.
Prescribed drugs affecting the central nervous system may cause drowsiness, muscle weakness, and confusion, including anti-anxiety medications and sedatives.
Other challenges in creating a safe environment include staff that fails to follow established protocols when transferring a resident from a wheelchair to a bed or shower chair to a wheelchair.
Other residents suffer falling injuries because of poorly fitted shoes, improper foot care, defective walking aids, broken crutches/canes, or other devices the mobility-challenged uses.
Building a Compensation Case
The victim, surviving family members, or a personal injury lawyer working for the injured party will build a case for compensation based on the case’s evidence and unique circumstances.
Generally, an attorney will review the facility’s falling prevention care plan to show how the assisted living center was not physically designed, laid out, and maintained to prevent slipping, tripping, and falling.
Next, the lawyer will review the facility’s environmental factors, including light levels, weather conditions, floor levels, and floor material compositions, to see if any hazards led to the accident.
The case could also be built on human factors and how well the assisted living facility, administrator, Director of Nursing, and staff members ensure resident safety based on medication use, mental alertness, mobility challenges, and continence problems.
The attorney building the case may determine that:
- The floor was not cleared of dangerous objects and debris
- The resident was taking medications that caused dizziness, disorientation, or lethargy
- Broken stairways, handrails, and uneven floor/sidewalk levels
- The resident was not using ambulation assistance, including wheelchairs and walkers, as ordered
- The staff failed to monitor the resident using a bed alarm or other communication device and respond when assistance was needed.
Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987
In 1987, the United States Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act to ensure that every nursing and caregiving facility met the obligation to ensure resident safety and well-being. The Act states that every resident, especially the vulnerable, must be given a high standard of care.
The facility must develop and enforce steps to reduce the potential risk of accidents that are usually caused by one or more factors, including:
- Facility understaffing
- A lack of sufficient staff member training
- Inattentive employees
- No effective care plan, including falls prevention guidance
- Staff members deviating from the facility’s falls prevention procedures, protocols, and processes
- Dangerous environmental factors, including cluttered hallways
- Inadequate maintenance
Any failure to provide the needed level of care could lead to a negligence claim citing abuse or neglect.
After a slipping and falling accident, the nursing staff must take immediate action to ensure that the victim receives professional medical care, preferably in an emergency room.
A skilled physician with the best diagnostic tools may complete a comprehensive medical evaluation to identify problems and initiate the best treatment.
The law requires that the nursing staff immediately report the accident to the facility supervisors and directors. Next, the facility must notify the victim’s close family members or others listed as emergency contact.
Any failure to take proactive measures to prevent an accident or not providing immediate attention after the event could be considered negligence, leading to a negligent case resulting in financial compensation to the victim and family.
Plaintiffs can usually sue an assisted living facility for negligence based on the full value of damages if they were injured by abuse or neglect.
The compensation may include the following:
- Hospitalization and emergency room costs
- Ongoing medical expenses, including therapy, rehabilitation, and prescription medications
- Expenses associated with relocating to a new facility
- Financial losses related to permanent impairment or disability
- Non-economic damages, including compensation for mental anguish, pain, and suffering
- Funds for wrongful death to cover lost earnings, hospitalization costs, funeral/burial expenses, pain, suffering, and grieving of surviving family members
All assisted-living facilities have a duty of care to ensure that each resident remains healthy in a safe environment monitored and supervised to prevent slipping and falling accidents. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) monitor every caregiving facility’s identifying problems based on a rating system.
Assisted Living Facility Falling Injuries FAQs
Our attorneys understand that you likely have many unanswered questions about moving forward with filing a civil lawsuit against an assisted living center. Our legal team has answered some of the common questions below.
However, please call us at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a consultation to discuss any questions you have concerning your injuries or the injuries of a loved one that could have been prevented.
Do Assisted-Living Facilities Have To Report Falls?
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all caregiving facilities, including assisted living homes, must report all falls or other injuries.
In many cases, the assisted living facility was required to supervise all activities performed by their staff, including dispensing medication, providing meals for the residents, planning social events, and providing transportation to shopping, doctors’ offices, and medical appointments.
The assisted living facility likely has a contract with the resident to help with daily living activities, including house cleaning, bedding changes, and maintaining a safe, hazard-free environment. Any failure to follow protocols could place the assisted living home in jeopardy of liability to provide the resident or surviving family members compensation for damages.
How Long Do You Have To File A Lawsuit Against A Nursing Home?
Every state has a statute of limitations that restricts the length of time victims or surviving family members may file a civil lawsuit against a nursing home or assisted living facility for damages. Typically, the time to file a case or lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident or the victim’s death.
In most cases, waiting too long to sue a living facility for negligence past the expiration of the statute of limitations would restrict the potential plaintiff from ever filing a claim in the future.
Families should consider hiring a personal injury attorney specializing in elder abuse and neglect to ensure the correct documents are filed timely, based on the state’s statute of limitations.
How Much Can You Sue A Nursing Home For?
Based on national statistics, the average negligent compensation case involving a nursing home or assisted living facility is settled out of court for just over $400,000.
Most cases can be resolved in less than a year or two after an attorney has built a substantial compensation claim or filed a lawsuit to take the case to trial.
However, the evidence is unique in every case proving how others’ negligent actions caused the victim’s injuries or wrongful death, affecting the case’s worth.
How Do I Report An Assisted Living Facility To The State?
The County Health Department or Social Services Office regulates nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted-living communities in nearly all communities. The National Center on Elder Abuse recommends contacting local law enforcement (911) if you suspect your loved one is in immediate danger.
- Call Adult Protective Services – The State agency manages neglect, abuse, and mistreatment cases. A call will initiate an investigation by state officials that will take immediate action on behalf of the victim to ensure their safety.
- Call the Local Long-Term Care Ombudsman – The local bondsman in the community investigates suspected mistreatment, abuse, and neglect of nursing home patients and assisted-living residents.
- Contact an Elder Abuse Attorney – An attorney working on behalf of the family will build a negligence case to hold those responsible for causing their loved one harm. An attorney can build a case against the facility, nursing staff, employees, vendors, visitors, and other older residents.
Hiring a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney to Resolve Your Assisted Living Facility Negligence Claim
Were you or a loved one injured in a preventable fall? Contact our expert elder abuse attorneys to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and legal options.
The Illinois personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can provide legal advice on your case’s merits to file and resolve a compensation claim.
Our nursing home elder abuse lawyers do not charge legal fees until the compensation case is resolved.
Did the negligence of another take the life of your loved one? You can file a wrongful death lawsuit to pay for your monetary damages, lost earnings, grief, pain, and suffering.
All information you and your loved ones share with our experienced Chicago injury lawyers is confidentially protected through an attorney-client relationship. Our Illinois law firm currently follows CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Covid-19 guidelines on social distancing to ensure everyone’s well-being.
Our practice areas include workplace injuries, car crashes, premises liability, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, product liability, and wrongful death. Our law office currently represents injured clients throughout Illinois in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, Peoria County, Sangamon County, Will County, Winnebago County, Aurora, Chicago, Joliet, Schaumburg, and Waukegan.