Suing for Older Adult Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall injuries are much more dangerous for older adults than for anyone else. And they are, unfortunately, relatively common. The problem is that when an older person falls and breaks a bone, healing occurs more slowly or not at all. The risk of falling again can also be higher.
A minor fall can easily mean a major life change for a person of advanced age. When a fall does necessitate full-time in-home care or a move to a nursing home, there is a lot to consider.
You have options to sue if a fall occurs in a nursing facility or care facility or if it happens out and about at a business. So let's consider what a plaintiff must prove to recover damages in case of a slip and fall or another injury.
Proving Dangerous Conditions
Generally speaking, in slip and fall cases, a plaintiff must show that there was a dangerous condition. The caveat is proving that the premises owner knew or should have known about it.
Owners are responsible for reasonably foreseeable conditions arising on their property. In other words, owners are expected to anticipate certain conditions and accommodate all kinds of people on the property.
This could include things like:
- Wet floors after a leak
- Inadequate lighting after lights burn out
- Broken walkways or handrails
- Ladders or equipment being left out by staff
These types of situations present a risk that is fairly easy to predict or see. Serious injuries can occur from even minor negligence from a premises owner or their staff.
If a person falls on the premises, older adult or otherwise, there may be a basis for a premises liability lawsuit. Depending on how the injury occurred and the plaintiff's relationship with the defendant, an injury attorney might additionally claim negligence.
Recovering Money for Negligence Cases
When a loved one is injured due to the negligence of another, they can possibly recover damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Future care plans
- Emotional suffering
- Physical pain and suffering
A retired person can't recover lost wages, for example, but damages for medical care may be higher because older adults experience the consequences of common injuries more severely.
To recover anything, however, a plaintiff must prove the four elements of negligence:
The context of the injury will determine these elements to some extent.
Duty of Care in Fall-Related Injuries
“Standard of care” or “duty of care” changes depending on the people involved and the location. For example:
- The duty of care of a nursing home to its residents is high
- The duty owed by a store owner to passersby on the sidewalk is very low
Still, all of us owe a duty of care to others. Everyone needs to act as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances and to prevent “reasonably foreseeable” injury.
The plaintiff has proven negligence and will win the case if they show that:
- Duty of care was breached
- It caused an injury
- The injury resulted in “compensable harm” (damages such as medical expenses, for example)
But cases are very complex -- even proving a simple slip and fall was someone else's fault requires extensive experience reading and understanding medical records and comfort with mathematical calculations.
Talk To a Lawyer
If you have been injured, whatever your age, talk to a lawyer. Tell your story. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.
- Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Conditions Leading to Indoor Slip and Fall Accidents (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Conditions Leading to Outdoor Slip and Fall Accidents (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Slip and Fall FAQ (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.