Liability for a Fall in the Nursing Home

Winter can be one of the most perilous times of year for the elderly. Viruses and illnesses are more common, nursing home staff are busier than ever, and cold and wet weather makes falling more likely to occur. Nursing home liability can become unclear.

Each year, a nursing home with 100 residents typically reports between 100-200 falls each year. About 10-20% of these are serious, with falls being the leading cause of traumatic brain injury, and 2%-6% result in fractures of some kind. In 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1,800 seniors died from a fall in the nursing home.

If you have an elderly relative who falls in a nursing home, know that you and your loved one have rights.

Here are some answers to the most common questions about liability when an elderly person falls in the nursing home:

Who is liable if my elderly relative falls in the nursing home?

Nursing home liability falls to whomever is deemed to be at fault for your elderly relative’s fall.

Property owners are responsible for keeping the property safe, so if the injury occurred as a result of their failure to protect their residents from injury or harm, the property owner will be deemed negligent and therefore liable.

Under the law, inhabitants are required to use the property in a normal and reasonable manner, so if the injury occurred as a result of an individual’s reckless, unauthorized or dangerous behavior, then the property owner cannot be held liable.

What are some reasons a nursing home would be deemed liable for a fall?

Many of the most common reasons the elderly fall are also reasons the nursing home would be deemed liable. These include leaving the floors wet, poor lighting, using incorrect bed heights, and improper use of wheelchairs.

If the nursing home was negligent, can I sue them?

Yes. Additionally, most nursing homes have insurance making the process relatively simpler than, for instance, a residential property where the resident may or may not have homeowners or renter’s insurance.

Are there special rules for suing a nursing home versus another kind of property?

Most slip and fall cases in Minnesota will fall under Minnesota Statutes Section 541.07, which applies to nearly all personal injury cases filed in the state’s civil court system regardless of whether they occurred. This means that the nursing home is responsible for maintaining standards of care to ensure your relative doesn’t slip or fall due to negligence. If they don’t, you will be able to sue them as long as the case is within the statute of limitations.

What is the statute of limitations on a slip and fall case in Minnesota?

Slip and fall lawsuits must be filed within two years from the date the incident occurred.

If you have an elderly relative in a nursing home and they’ve fallen as a result of negligence, consider pursuing legal action today. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury and hip fracture amongst the elderly, and a lawsuit may be the only way they’re able to regain quality of life and happiness at such a precious time in their lives.

Feel free to contact one of our attorneys today. We won’t make you wait.