When a loved one falls in a nursing home, it can be hard to know what to do. You want to keep your loved one safe and also make sure that others are safe. You want to prevent future falls but minimize the disruption to your family member.
However, you may not know what to do about it or if you need the help of a qualified nursing home injury attorney. Here’s some important information to help you when dealing with a Tampa nursing home fall.
Get Immediate, Emergency Medical Attention
Your first item of business is taking care of your loved one’s immediate medical needs. If your loved one has signs of injury at all, you should take them for medical attention. Sometimes, a person who suffers a broken bone, sprains or a traumatic brain injury may not know they’re seriously hurt.
They also might not be able to vocalize that they’re feeling pain or discomfort. Taking them for treatment allows you determine what the injuries are and address them before they become worse. Immediate medical treatment is also your first critical step to link your loved one’s fall to their injuries and other damages.
Preserve Critical Evidence
To get to the bottom of the fall, you need to preserve the evidence to determine how it occurred. Evidence can disappear quickly. When a fall happens because of negligence on the part of the care facility, evidence can even disappear intentionally. It’s essential to save the evidence that you can as fast as you can.
Send a written demand to the care facility. Demand that they keep any records that may be relevant to investigating your loved one’s fall. If there are security videos at the facility, insist that they keep them. It’s also vital that they keep copies of internal correspondence regarding your loved one’s fall including emails.
The care facility should also keep records of your loved one’s care and supervision in the days and weeks leading up to the fall. They should have logs of what medical attention they secured for your loved one right after the fall. Even the physical evidence of a broken handrail or a handrail that’s placed in an incorrect location can be valuable physical evidence.
Additional Methods for Protecting Evidence
In addition to demanding that the care facility keep copies of records, here are other ways that you can preserve the evidence after a fall:
• Photograph the scene where the accident occurred
• Ask your loved one for a detailed statement of what happened. If they can’t write, record them and take notes. Ask as many questions as you can think of.
• Ask for a copy of internal reports or investigations about the fall
• Speak with witnesses including other residents and facility employees
When you talk with your loved one, make sure you speak to them without supervision or monitoring from anyone in the facility. Florida law 429.28 gives Florida nursing home residents the right to unrestricted, private communication with anyone they choose.
Report Suspected Abuse to Authorities
Florida has a Department of Elder Affairs that addresses concerns about nursing home care. You may have concerns about how your loved one’s fall occurred. You might worry that others are in danger at the nursing facility.
You can make a report to Florida’s Department of Elder Affairs. You can do this with a phone call, or you can make a report online. The department can investigate, demand changes, and take other action to prevent future falls. If you suspect abuse or intentional harm, you can also make a report to the police.
Evaluate Your Loved One’s Safety
Once you’ve helped your loved one get emergency medical attention and you’ve preserved the evidence that’s at the scene, it’s time to evaluate. You need to determine what changes to make in your loved one’s care to prevent future falls. Some things you should consider include:
• Is my loved one safe in this facility?
• Does my loved one need a higher level of care?
• Can the facility make changes like new mobility aids or alterations in furniture arrangements, daily routines or crowding that can address your loved one’s needs?
• Have the people responsible for the fall been disciplined or trained to your satisfaction?
• Was the fall a part of a larger pattern of neglect?
• Can your loved one get the medical care in the facility that they need to recover from their injuries?
• What does your loved one want to do?
Related: Nursing Home Abuse: How to Spot It
Consider Your Legal Options
There are multiple ways that your loved one may be able to address the fall through the legal system. You can ask a court to issue an injunction. That’s a court order that requires the nursing home to make changes. You can also seek damages for your loved one’s losses.
There are two ways that you may be able to recover financial compensation for your loved one’s fall. One way is by showing that the fall resulted from negligence at the care facility. Negligence means that the nursing home and their employees didn’t do the things that they should have done to provide reasonable care for your loved one.
In the case of a nursing home, the standard of reasonable care is very high. Because a nursing home provides care for vulnerable seniors, the care facility should perform a risk assessment for each resident. They should provide the appropriate staff hiring procedures, staff training, mobility aids, monitoring, ongoing employee supervision, and other necessary measures to keep your loved one safe. Vulnerable seniors often need more care than the typical adult person. If you win your negligence case, you can recover for a range of damages. Your loved one’s damages often include physical and emotional anguish.
Florida’s Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights
You may also pursue your case through Florida’s Nursing Home Resident Bill of Rights. The law gives nursing home residents defined rights that include things like safety, respect, and interaction with other residents.
If the nursing home fails to comply with Florida law 429.28, you can bring a legal claim for compensation. For a case based on Florida’s Bill of Rights, you may recover punitive damages in addition to general damages.
How Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys can help
The skilled team at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys boasts more than 40 legal employees and 35 years of experience. We have the skills and determination that you need to pursue every avenue available to you under Florida law. We can help you report the fall to the right authorities, preserve evidence, and determine the best path for pursuing your claim for compensation.