When you place a loved one in a nursing home, you count on the staff not just to take care of their everyday needs. You expect them to keep your loved one safe and uninjured.
Many injuries in nursing homes result from falls. Falls in elderly people can cause brain injuries and fractures that may require surgery and rehabilitation to heal. Some can even be fatal.
Can you hold a nursing home liable for a loved one’s fall and expect the facility to cover the costs of surgery and other care required to help them heal? Every situation is different.
Determining whether a nursing home was negligent
If the fall was the result of neglect, the nursing home could potentially be held liable. If a resident calls for an attendant because they need to use the restroom, no one responds and they fall as they make their way to the restroom without any support because their walker was left out of their reach, there’s certainly some level of negligence.
However, if a resident wakes up and night, decides to walk to the restroom on their own and falls, it could be more difficult to make a case for neglect. Even the best nursing homes can’t watch every resident 24/7.
The same situations where any business could be considered negligent also apply. Injuries caused because a floor was left wet or a grab bar in a room gave way because it hadn’t been fixed despite repeated requests could be grounds for a legal claim.
Nursing homes have a duty to provide what’s called Nursing Home Level of Care (NHLOC) to be eligible for receiving money from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). What constitutes NHLOC differs among states. Only those people who meet a state’s requirements for needing NHLOC are supposed to be admitted.
Here in New York, an elderly person must have a medical need and not be able to perform activities of daily living (ADL) like eating, dressing and bathing on their own. Other factors may be considered in determining whether a person qualifies for NHLOC.
It can sometimes be tricky to determine whether a loved one’s fall or other injury could and should have been prevented by nursing home staff. If you believe it was the result of negligence – particularly if they suffered a serious injury or have been injured in multiple falls –it’s wise to seek legal guidance.