Residents can sue an assisted living facility for a fall that resulted from staff negligence. An assisted living facility, or its staff members, can be held liable for injuries a resident sustains in the presence of their care if the injuries result from the negligent or intentional actions of employees or the company. This is because healthcare providers are bound by a standard of care, and long-term care facilities are no exception.
A fall in an assisted living facility is not necessarily grounds for a lawsuit, however. To successfully sue an assisted living facility for a fall, you must prove that the assisted living facility was negligent, their negligence led to the fall, and the fall caused injuries.
Before proceeding with the claim against the facility, you should take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced attorney. The nursing home abuse lawyer will evaluate what happened and determine whether you have a viable nursing home negligence case.
What Is the Purpose of an Assisted Living Facility?
Most elderly or disabled persons move into assisted living facilities to ensure competent nurses address their needs in a secure and safe environment.
Assisted living facilities offer a range of services to help those needing minimal care. The services include providing resident meals, supervising the dispensing of medication, helping residents with daily living activities, and offering transportation to and from medical appointments.
Additionally, assisted living facilities provide residents with a consistent and secure place to live. In some cases, this would otherwise be unmanageable for the resident.
Assisted Living Facilities Are Bound by a Standard of Care
In the U.S., assisted living facilities must adhere to the Standard of Care stipulated by law. A facility, and its staff, should provide a secure and safe environment that protects the health of its residents.
Though assisted living facilities offer less day-to-day care compared to nursing homes, they must still follow best practices to prevent resident falls and injuries. The typical safeguards implemented include:
- Environmental Adjustments – these adjustments include identifying and fixing conditions that increase the chances of a fall, such as wet areas, poor lighting, uneven floors, and clutter.
- Client education – clinical guidelines recommend that residents with a higher risk of falling should be educated on fall prevention to improve their safety awareness. For instance, its crucial residents understand why they risk a fall if they try moving from their bed to a wheelchair without help.
- Periodic assessments – the facility should assess every resident on admission and after a fall or a significant medical occurrence. Identifying residents at risk of falls is crucial to develop interventions and prevent future falls.
- Mobility restriction – This can be implemented for at-risk residents. For instance, a resident can only be allowed to take walks in the company of the staff.
- Medication review – the facility should run medication reviews, especially on residents on multiple medications, to determine if any place them at risk of falls.
- Provide residents needing mobility assistance with assistive tools like walkers, canes, wheelchairs, or electric scooters.
Suing a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility for Negligence
A nursing home negligence lawyer can help you build a case to get you or your loved one monetary compensation for medical bills, impaired mobility, pain, and suffering because of staff negligence at the assisted living facility.
To build a solid case, the lawyer will:
How to Prove Negligence
The lawyer will investigate the assisted living facility, checking if they adhere to the standards of care they are bound by according to U.S. law. He or she may collect evidence that proves the facility’s negligent actions directly caused the fall and injuries.
To sue the facility for a fall, the lawyer will show that:
- The facility owed a duty of care to the resident.
- The facility breached its duty to the resident.
- The breach of duty resulted in the fall and subsequent injuries.
- The injuries sustained caused losses
The attorney will also review the resident’s circumstances to screen for signs of nursing home neglect.
In the lawsuit, the lawyer might include you or your loved one’s medical records, plus a medical expert’s testimony. The medical expert’s testimony can explain actions that constitute proper medical procedures in any situation. Examples of breach of duty of care include offering the wrong medication, depriving a patient of adequate hydration or nutrition, failing to uphold a resident’s hygiene, or not monitoring for health conditions.
Common Defenses in Assisted Living Facility Negligence Cases
The assisted living facility might claim the resident’s declining health, preexisting medical condition, medical complication, mental condition, or age inevitably led to the fall. The defense might also focus on the resident’s:
- Impaired vision
- Medication that causes drowsiness, delayed reaction, and dizziness.
- Mobility limitations
Your lawyer will oppose these claims and provide proof of the facility’s negligence and breach of care.
Since assisted living facility residents are protected from elder abuse, liable parties can face criminal charges depending on how the fall happened. Charges for mistreatment, abuse, or neglect might apply. Because of this, the liable facility may take extensive measures to fight your injury claim.
Damages You Can Seek in an Assisted Living Facility Lawsuit
After you prove the assisted living facility’s negligence led to the fall, you’ll have to determine how much compensation to seek in your suit.
Damages vary from case to case, but generally, they’re split into two categories:
These damages compensate the family of the injured resident or the resident for expenses paid out of pocket. The expenses include rehabilitation and therapy costs, funeral and burial costs, expenses for medication, surgery, doctor visits, and other associated costs.
Non-economic damages are challenging, since you cannot quantify them. These damages are related to emotional and physical abuse and neglect. You can seek compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment of life, among other intangible consequences of an injury.
Does an Assisted Living Facility Have to Report Falls?
According to the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, all assisted living facilities must report falls and other injuries that happen to residents in their care.
Usually, assisted living facilities are required to supervise staff activities, including offering meals and dispensing medication to residents, offering transport to doctor’s appointments, shopping, and planning social events.
Assisted living facilities have contracts with residents to provide aid with activities of daily living, including bedding changes, house cleaning, and keeping a secure and safe environment. Failure to follow these practices places the facility in liability to compensate the resident or his or her family members for damages.
How Long Does a Resident Have to File a Lawsuit Against an Assisted Living Facility?
Each state has a statute of limitations that dictates how long a resident or family member has to file a lawsuit against an assisted living facility. Typically, you cannot sue the facility more than two years from the day of the accident or the resident’s death.
Waiting too long to file a suit restricts the resident from filing a claim in the future. Residents or their families should hire a personal injury lawyer specializing in elder neglect and abuse to ensure the correct documents are filed on time as per state regulations.
How Much Can You Sue an Assisted Living Facility for After a Fall?
The value of your claim will depend on the injuries sustained and the circumstances of the accident. Injury cases involving assisted living facilities are usually settled out of court, and the settlements vary significantly. Many of these cases are settled one or two years after the lawyer builds substantial evidence or takes the facility to court.
How Can I Report an Assisted Living Facility to the State?
You can report an assisted living facility to the state by filing a complaint through e-mail, fax, mail, or phone. In the complaint you file, you should identify the resident and the facility or staff involved, describe what happened to the resident, the allegations against the facility, and when the incident occurred. You should also describe where within the facility the fall occurred, the harm the resident suffered, and how the facility responded to your complaint.
The resident, his or her family members, or a caregiver can file the complaint.
Do You Need an Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Claim?
If you or your loved one was hurt in a preventable fall, a nursing home negligence lawyer can help you figure out how to proceed. The attorney will offer objective legal advice based on the merits of your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. Suppose the facility’s negligence resulted in the death of your loved one. Filing a wrongful death suit to get compensation for your financial damage, grief, suffering, pain and lost earnings may be the right choice.