Older adults are often prone to falls, but if your elderly relative got injured in a slip and fall accident that someone else's negligence caused, we might be able to file a claim for compensation. Whether the fall happened at a nursing home, the doctor's office, the hospital, or somewhere else like a store or restaurant, the property owner can be liable if his carelessness that caused the fall.
Elements of Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
Under Georgia premises liability law, a property owner is responsible for the losses suffered by a person who got hurt because of the owner’s mistake on the property. The plaintiff must have slipped and fallen because of a hazardous condition on the premises. We have to prove all three of these factors of negligence to hold the landowner liable to your elderly relative:
- There was a dangerous condition on the property.
- The owner knew or should have known about the hazard.
- The owner did not repair the condition or post adequate warnings to prevent harm to bystanders.
Let's say that your elderly relative lives in a nursing home. An employee mopped the floors, leaving several puddles behind. The worker did not place any warning cones on the floor or use anything to absorb the excess water. Because of the lighting, the color of the floor surface, and the diminished visual acuity of the nursing home residents, the puddles constituted a dangerous condition on the property.
The employee who mopped the floors knew or should have known about the hazard. The owner is responsible for the actions of employees when they are performing the scope of their work. These facts satisfy the second element of negligence.
None of the employees corrected the situation by wiping up the excess water. Also, they did not block off the area or post warnings about the wet floor. As a result, this scenario meets the requirements of the third element of negligence.
The nursing home is negligent and liable if someone slips and falls on the wet floor. The negligence is the cause of the injury in this situation.
Damages for Slip and Fall
An older person is at risk of suffering bone fractures as a result of falling. If an elderly person slips and falls and breaks a hip or leg or sustains a significant injury to the lower extremities or the spine, he might have to use a walker or wheelchair for an extended period of time or even permanently afterward.
When an elderly person loses mobility, she is at higher risk of death from respiratory infections. A fall that might be a temporary inconvenience for a younger person might be life-changing and devastating for an older adult.
The damages that your elderly relative can pursue for the slip and fall injury will depend on the facts of his or her case. Every situation is different. Here are some of the damages that older slip and fall plaintiffs typically can go after, depending on their facts:
- Medical expenses, for the treatment she needed because of the injury. These costs can include such things as the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, surgery, imaging studies like x-rays, lab work, diagnostic procedures, prescription drugs, and physical therapy.
- Rehabilitation center, if he needed to receive specialized treatment for weeks, months, or longer because of his injuries.
- Long-term care center, if the injuries cause her to need daily assistance with medical treatments and personal care.
- Lost income, if he did not receive wages, salary, self-employment, or other income because of the slip and fall accident and recuperation time.
- Diminished earning capacity, if she cannot make as much money as before the fall, because of the injuries.
- Disability, if the injuries caused him to be unable to support himself through gainful employment.
- Pain and suffering, for the physical discomfort and emotional distress she experienced.
- Other intangible damages, like loss of enjoyment of life due to lost mobility, disfigurement, depression, and a spouse's claim for loss of consortium.
- Also, depending on the unique facts of your case, you might be able to collect damages for long-term or permanent impairments from the injuries and the worsening of existing conditions.
Special Considerations in Slip and Fall Accidents of Elderly Relatives
Some older adults can file a lawsuit and work with a lawyer to pursue the damages they deserve, but others might benefit from having a younger relative assist them. Sometimes a loved one can act as "next friend" and bring the claim on behalf of the older relative.
If your elderly relative has a guardianship or conservatorship, we will have to follow special rules that control the proceeds of the case. We can explain those rules and guide you through the process.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Elderly Relative’s Slip and Fall
We realize that these legal issues can be a bit overwhelming, but do not worry. We can take care of the legal matters so that you can devote your attention to your loved one’s needs.
If your elderly relative sustained an injury in a slip and fall accident, give us a call. We do not charge upfront legal fees for these cases. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838, to get a free consultation. There is no obligation.