Slip and fall injuries can be devastating for people of all ages, but our elderly population is especially susceptible to these injuries, and the road to recovery following a slip and fall can be much more challenging than younger folks may experience. Bones are more brittle with age, and older men and women simply do not recover well following a slip and fall accident. In fact, slip and falls often lead to the death of the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in Americans 65 and older, and approximately 27,000 seniors die each year due to falls.
Seniors and Slip and Fall Injuries
When senior citizens fall, they may suffer a broken hip or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Fractured bones and soft tissue injuries are the most common injuries sustained when an older person falls. For the elderly, even minor trauma can require hospitalization, and many older slip and fall victims never regain the level of functionality they enjoyed before the incident.
Pre-existing medical conditions, frailty, and advanced age mean that older individuals are less likely to recover from their injuries. Some statistics show that seniors older than the age of 70 experience a three-fold increase in risk of death after a fall compared to those 69 and younger. Even with a less serious injury, like a broken bone, treatment and prognosis are still much more complicated than with a younger person. Hip fractures often require surgical procedures involving sedation and further trauma—two things that are very dangerous for older people.
Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
If an elderly person suffers a slip and fall on someone else’s property, they may have a legal claim under what is known as “premises liability,” which is an umbrella term of the area of law that deals with injuries and deaths in and on someone’s property.
In these complex injury claims, the injured party must prove the owner of the property where the slip and fall occurred was negligent with ownership or maintenance of the property. Being “negligent” means the owner of the property failed to use reasonable care in keeping the property safe for people who may come to the property for business or personal reasons.
Elements of Negligence
The four elements of negligence must exist with premises liability cases: Duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Property owners owe a duty of care to people who will come onto their property, and when the property is a business, the owners owe the highest duty of care because people come onto their property as “invitees.”
Slip and falls are the most common type of premises liability and may occur at many different locations:
- Senior living facilities
- Hospitals or nursing homes
- Parking lots and parking garages
- Handicap ramps
- Getting into and out of vehicles for outings from a senior living facility
Examples of negligence on a business owner’s part include:
- Uneven surface
- Defective staircase
- Unsecured rug
- Wet floors
- Hidden holes
- Obstacles in pathway
- Lack of signage
- Hidden cords/wiring
- Loose or broken floors, sidewalks, or steps
- Lack of security
- Poor or absent lighting
- Icy, snowy walkways
If an elderly loved one has been injured in a slip and fall or has died following an injury sustained after a fall, you may have a valid premises liability claim if you can show that negligence contributed to your loved one’s injury or death.
Please contact a premises liability attorney in your area today to schedule a no-cost consultation. You may be able to collect compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.