Orange County Nursing Home Fall Attorneys

Orange County Nursing Home Fall AttorneysSeniors and persons with mobility issues are vulnerable to serious injuries when they slip or fall. This is why nursing homes and assisted-living facilities have the special duty of fall prevention. It’s not just a matter of watching a resident and assisting them in moving. California nursing homes are required to have a comprehensive fall management program that includes various fall-prevention protocols.

Sadly, many facilities fail to uphold these protocols, allowing terrible falls to happen to some residents. If your loved one has been injured due to a fall at a negligent facility, you may be able to pursue an injury claim and hold the facility accountable.

In Southern California, talk to an attorney at Barrios & Machado. We are an experienced law firm that’s trusted in Orange County and beyond for nursing home injury cases. We can skillfully fight for your loved one’s rights, even against major facilities and their lawyers. Contact Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696.

Elderly Falls: Statistics and Dangers

According to the California Department of Public Health, falls cause 70 percent of all injury-related hospitalizations and 41 percent of injury-related deaths among seniors in the state. In 2013 alone, 1,733 Californians aged 65 and up tragically died from fall injuries.

Some of the common injuries that can result from a fall are:

  • Head trauma/Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fractures on the hips, pelvis, femur, hand, and other bones
  • Sprains/Strains
  • Stroke from a brain injury.

These injuries have bigger consequences on seniors, not least because their health is often more fragile at their age and their recovery process has slowed. On top of that, a single fall injury can greatly limit their mobility, ability to function, self-confidence, and quality of life. For instance, one known effect of a fall is that the person may self-impose a limitation on their activities.

When we entrust an elderly family member to a nursing home, we expect the facility to provide utmost care and safety, especially with regard to fall prevention. In reality, this is not always the case. The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (under the federal Health Department) acknowledges that falls are common in nursing facilities. These are some of the figures they found:

  • Of the 1.6 million nursing home residents in the US, about half suffer a fall each year.
  • About 1 in every 10 residents who fall gets seriously injured from their fall.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 of those who have fallen will suffer two or more falls in a year.

While older persons are naturally more prone to falling in general, resident falls are mostly preventable at care facilities. Numerous cases of elderly falls are due to negligence at the facility, which means injuries could have been avoided had the facility applied standard care.

Responsibility of Nursing Homes to Prevent and Handle Falls

Elderly falls at healthcare facilities are a long-known risk, that’s why federal and state governments have developed programs to help prevent them. In California, these are some of the protocols and requirements for nursing homes to minimize falling among their residents:

  • Determine each resident’s “fall risk” and develop an individualized care plan for them the moment they register at the facility
  • Frequently inspect the environs for tripping, slipping, and falling hazards
  • Provide adequate lighting in areas accessed by residents
  • Employ adequate staff and make sure they are trained to address fall risks
  • Ensure the adequacy and stability of mobility aids such as wheelchairs and walkers
  • Provide anti-slip footwear to residents
  • Follow safety procedures when conducting resident transfers.

In addition, California nursing homes are specifically required to report any resident fall that has occurred in their premises. They must write an incident report and have the resident examined for injuries. They must also notify the resident’s family and physician within 24 hours of the incident.

When is a Nursing Home Liable for Resident’s Fall?

Despite fall prevention protocols, numerous falls still occur at elderly care facilities, and a large number of them can be attributed to the facility’s negligence. When a nursing home is found to have been negligent, they will be liable to pay for the resident’s injuries.

These are some common scenarios where a nursing home’s negligence leads to a fall injury:

  • Not following a resident’s care plan
  • Failing to communicate the care plan to other staff
  • Lack of supervision from staff
  • Understaffing (not hiring or posting enough staff)
  • Insufficient staff training
  • Hazardous premises (such as dim lighting, slippery floors, and broken flooring)
  • Failing to install safety assists such as handrails and anti-slip mats
  • Failing to examine new signs of injury (when a resident has fallen without being noticed)
  • Failing to call a doctor after a resident's fall.

If you’ve noticed an injury on your loved one but aren’t sure if the facility is liable, it’s best to speak with an attorney anyway. An experienced lawyer can recognize elements of negligence and provide you sound legal advice on your best next steps.

What to Do If Your Loved One was Injured in a Nursing Home Fall

  • Seek medical attention. Even if your loved one’s injury looks minor, have a physician assess their condition. Some fall injuries are not immediately obvious, such as traumatic brain injuries.
  • Ensure that there is an incident report. The facility is required to write one when they find out about a resident’s fall. This report will be examined if there is suspicion of abuse or neglect.
  • Compile evidence. Take photographs of your loved one’s injuries and of the location where they fell. Gather their medical records, care plan documents, transfer logs, and other relevant documents.
  • Avoid confrontation. While it’s alarming to find out your elderly loved one has been hurt, you must remain calm when dealing with nursing home staff. To get their perspective on how the fall happened, politely ask them about the sequence of events.
  • Consult a lawyer. It’s wise to get legal advice, whether or not you’ve decided to file a nursing home injury claim. You may need to take steps to ensure your loved one is protected from similar incidents. If or when you decide to file a fall injury claim, your lawyer should be able to represent you against the nursing home management, their insurance company, or their legal team.

Contact a Trusted Nursing Home Fall Lawyer in Orange County

The law firm of Barrios & Machado has earned the trust of Southern Californians due to our tenacious representation of nursing home residents and their families. Our lawyers combine skill, experience, and fearlessness when facing healthcare companies and insurers, which is why we have obtained favorable settlements on behalf of our clients.

Talk to us in a free and confidential consultation. Call Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696 today.

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