Falls by residents in nursing homes remains a highly problematic issue. Both the number of falls, as well as the resulting injuries, are a major source of concern.
Because of the importance of falls in nursing homes, this subject has been discussed on this site in a number of areas. In addition to individual posts that largely discuss falls in Illinois nursing homes, falls are also discussed on the following pages:
As noted in the posts and pages above, nursing home falls have been cited in a number of Illinois personal injury lawsuits as well as wrongful death lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits allege negligence on the part of the nursing home (or similar type of long-term health care facility.) While the reasons for the negligence claims vary, a commonly stated reason is that despite previous nursing home falls, little or nothing was done to prevent subsequent falls and their corresponding injuries.
The incidence of lawsuits regarding nursing home residents who fall is high. According to various sources, nursing home falls are the top reason for lawsuits against skilled nursing facilities and long-term health care providers, including nursing homes. The McKnight’s article of October 27, 2014, titled “Falls are top reasons for lawsuits against skilled nursing facilities, report states” further discusses this topic.
Seemingly, one of the main reasons for such lawsuits is that the accident injuries are not only common, but often serious. A significant percentage of nursing home falls lead to the death of the resident, although such fatalities don’t necessarily happen immediately after the fall.
Statistics indicate the frequency of nursing home falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the document (last updated June 30, 2015) titled “Falls in Nursing Homes“:
- Between half and three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year. That’s twice the rate of falls among older adults living in the community.
These nursing home falls are worrisome for a number of reasons. One reason is that falls often lead to significant, if not serious, injuries. As seen in the CDC document mentioned above:
- About 1,800 people living in nursing homes die from falls each year.1
- About 10% to 20% of nursing home falls cause serious injuries; 2% to 6% cause fractures.1
- Falls result in disability, functional decline and reduced quality of life. Fear of falling can cause further loss of function, depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation.5
There are many reasons why nursing home residents may fall. Among these reasons include:
- Lack of proper supervision
- Lack of safety equipment, such as “grab bars.”
- Dizziness caused by medications often taken by the elderly
- Balance issues and other instability due to old age and/or health ailments
- Muscle Weakness
- Slippery floors
- Objects left on the floors
- Lack of appropriate walking aids, such as a walker or cane
- Inadequate lighting
Of particular note, many nursing home falls occur as residents attempt to walk to the washroom. While there are likely many reasons for this, a primary reason is that walking to the washroom is one (if not a primary) walking activity frequently undertaken by nursing home residents.
There are many types of injuries that residents suffer when they fall. As mentioned above, many of these injuries are serious in nature, and some may lead, directly or indirectly, to death.
Among the types of injuries are:
- Broken hips
- Broken arms
- Bone fractures
- Leg injuries
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Examples of these types of injuries can be seen in a variety of articles, research sources, and lawsuits. For example, a recent Illinois wrongful death lawsuit involved a woman who suffered severe head trauma resulting from a fall. The injury, among other things, allegedly led to severe bleeding on the brain. The woman later died from the injury. The woman had a history of falls and fall injuries. Despite this history of falls and injuries, the woman’s estate argued that the nursing home failed to adequately supervise and otherwise assist the woman. As well, the estate also alleged that the nursing home did not implement fall prevention policies or increase supervision in a timely manner.
Should someone you care for in a Chicago nursing home, or any other Illinois nursing home or care facility, suffers a fall that leads to injury or a fatality, there may be grounds for filing a lawsuit. While, of course, not all falls are caused by carelessness or negligence on the part of the nursing home care provider, in instances where a resident falls occurs due to negligence a lawsuit may be warranted.
From a legal perspective, each injury situation needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Tony Elman, Lead Attorney of the Elman Joseph Law Group, can discuss the injury situation with you and also discuss what avenues may be available for pursuing accident injury compensation, or, in the case of fatalities, a wrongful death lawsuit.
Tony Elman can be reached at (773) 392-8182.
Elman Joseph Law Group works on personal injury cases on a contingency basis — meaning that clients are not charged legal fees unless and until the client receives compensation.
Elman Joseph Law Group has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for over 20 years. During this time, Elman Joseph Law Group has handled over 10,000 personal injury cases. Through this experience, which has included a range of lawsuit types and sizes, Elman Joseph Law Group has established a reputation, based upon settlements and court verdicts achieved, as being (highly) successful trial lawyers.