Justices Resurrect Nursing Home Fall Lawsuit Alleging Wrongful Death

Falls are a leading cause of death among older Americans, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and South Florida injury attorneys know nursing home residents are especially susceptible. They’re more likely to be immobile or require significant assistance in moving just to complete basic tasks and functions. They are more likely to be in poorer health to start with, and in turn may have a more difficult time recovering.nursing home falls West Palm Beach

None of this, however, should be understood to mean that nursing home falls are inevitable or that nursing home staff is not responsible to take adequate prevention measures. In fact, nursing home operators have a responsibility to make sure patients don’t fall. That’s because the likelihood of falls as a result of certain conditions/failure to meet care standards is known. The fact that such a fall can result in serious injury? That’s known too. Complications from falls are known to lead to pain, functional impairment, disability and death among nursing home residents.  For this reason, Florida nursing home injury attorneys can assert that falls and resulting injuries in a nursing home setting are a foreseeable consequence of things like:

  • Inadequate staffing of nursing homes.
  • Inadequate training of staffers.
  • Inadequate supervision of nursing home staff.
  • Failure to provide the proper resources necessary.

Even if the nursing home itself was not negligent in causing a nursing home fall, the entity can still be held vicariously liable if any of its staffers were. There is an old Latin legal concept we still use today in Florida known as as respondeat superior, which means “let the master answer.” In other words, if the employee was negligent in the course of carrying out his or her job, the employer can be found liable also.

Many nursing homes have managed to work around this by hiring nursing staffers through third-party contracting. Firms are not liable for the wrongdoing of independent contractors; only employees.

As longtime South Florida nursing home injury attorneys in West Palm Beach, we know that the trend toward for-profit nursing homes the last two-to-three decades has resulted in fewer staffers, fewer, fewer resources an uptick in Medicare fraud and nursing home patients receiving worse care – including suffering from falls.

One analysis published in the Journal of Aging and Social Policy revealed that companies are increasingly using complicated corporate structures to evade or at least minimize liability. For-profit facilities on-the-whole tend to provide a poorer quality of care to patients, the researchers found.

Just recently, a complainant in Clearwater, FL filed a lawsuit alleging her injurious fall at a nursing home was preventable, had the nursing staff at the facility properly charted her condition, consulted with her health care power of attorney on certain issues (as she was not at the time able to communicate with healthcare providers), monitor her or provide a safe living environment.

Research published last year in the journal BMC Family Practice found that nearly 60 percent of residents in the study cohort suffered at least one nursing home fall over a five-month time frame. Risk factors included:

  • Patient medications (particularly sedatives);
  • Frailty
  • Previous falls (fall risk doubles once a person has suffered from one fall)
  • Cognitive impairment/dementia

Where these factors are present, the bar for accepted standard of care raises.

Our South Florida nursing home fall injury lawyers in West Palm Beach are here to help answer your questions and help you decide the best course of legal action moving forward.

Contact the South Florida nursing home injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Nursing Home Ownership Trends and Their Impact on Quality of Care: A Study Using Detailed Ownership Data from Texas, April 8, 2018,  Journal of Aging and Social Policy

More Blog Entries:

Report: Florida Nursing Home Deaths Caused by Neglect, Maltreatment Rarely Prosecuted, Dec. 22, 2018, West Palm Beach Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog