What You Should Know About Nursing Home Falls
Slip-and-fall injuries often send people to nursing homes and keep them there longer. 40 percent of older adult fall victims go to nursing homes, and 60 percent of these residents fall at nursing homes. Usually, the physical and emotional injuries are so bad that these victims cannot ever live independently again. In other words, ensuring home slip-and-fall injuries rob people of what is supposed to be the relaxed years of their lives.
Because these injuries, and their effects, are so severe, a Tampa personal injury attorney can obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. These victims need this compensation to pay unexpected fall-related expenses. These victims also deserve this compensation, so they can move forward and live the rest of their lives as they want to live them.
Duty of Care
Florida, like most other states, uses a victim classification system to determine the duty of care in premises liability claims, like fall injury claims. The three categories are:
- Invitee: Nursing home residents are invitees. They have express permission to be at the nursing home and provide a financial benefit to nursing home owners. Nursing home visitors are usually invitees as well. They have implied permission to be on the premises, and their visits lift residents’ spirits, thus benefiting nursing home owners. In these situations, owners have a duty of care to make their premises reasonably safe.
- Licensee: A lesser duty applies in these cases. Usually, owners must warn licensees about unsecured floor rugs, loose handrails, and other latent (hidden) defects. Victims are licensees if they have permission to be on the property but don’t benefit the owner. Guests of hotel guests are normally licensees.
- Trespasser: Frequently, licensees become trespassers. Licensees sometimes go where they aren’t supposed to go or commit illegal acts, like skateboarding on the sidewalk, while they’re there. Generally, owners have no duty to protect trespasser safety. A few exceptions protect a few trespassers, especially child trespassers, in some situations.
As outlined below, owners breach their duty of care if they fail to address known property hazards.
Knowledge of Hazard
A Tampa personal injury attorney can use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish owner knowledge of the fall-causing hazard.
Direct evidence of actual knowledge, like safety surveys and floor cleaning reports, often surface during a lawsuit’s discovery process. Usually, direct evidence is more compelling than circumstantial evidence. So, if a case settles too quickly, the best evidence, and therefore maximum compensation, may be unavailable.
If there’s no direct evidence of actual knowledge, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to prove constructive knowledge (should have known).
Generally, courts use the time-notice rule to evaluate circumstantial evidence and determine if it’s strong enough to pass legal muster.
Assume Ben slips and falls on a black and gritty banana peel. The color and texture suggests that the peel has been on the floor for some time, maybe several hours. Therefore, the owner should have known about it and should have picked it up. However, if Ben slips and falls on a yellow and smooth banana peel, the color and texture suggests it hasn’t been on the floor very long. Therefore, there’s no constructive knowledge.
In both direct and circumstantial evidence matters, victim/plaintiffs must prove this element of a fall injury claim by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Count on a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to important financial benefits. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.