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Injuries Due to Falls In Nursing Homes

When an elderly person falls, the accident can lead to serious injury and even death. Nursing home residents are at a significantly increased risk of falling, and management has a responsibility to maintain the premises and hallways to keep residents safe. Once a resident has shown to be at risk for slip and fall accidents, a supervision plan should immediately be implemented to prevent injury. Plans can include additional supervision or adding rails to beds and walls. Providing medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, or canes can also help prevent falls.

It is ultimately the nursing home’s responsibility to care for your loved one and provide safe conditions in which they are not susceptible to falling. If a loved one has fallen in a nursing home and suffered serious injuries, reach out to Attorney Bryant today for a free consultation. When an elder falls in a nursing, it is often a sign of neglect, and the nursing home should be held responsible for the harm they caused your loved one by not properly caring for them.

Impacts of a Fall

When an elderly individual falls, the impacts are often severe. This is due to a variety of factors including weakened muscles and slower reflexes that prevent the elder from falling in a safer manner or avoiding a fall by stabilizing themselves. When the elder falls, they often cannot protect vulnerable parts of their body, increasing the chance that they fracture something during the accident. When combined with weakened bones as a result of osteoporosis, these factors can cause falls to be dangerous or even fatal. Common fall injuries include:

  • Cuts and bruises, which can lead to ​bedsores​ as the elder is forced to keep pressure off the injuries and on other parts of their body for long periods of time. Bedsores can become deadly if left untreated, as they can lead to life-threatening blood infections, such as sepsis.
  • Fractured bones, ​including the ankle, wrist, upper arm (humerus), leg (femur), hip, spine (vertebrae), and pelvis. ​Importantly, studies have shown that a hip fracture dramatically increases an older person’s risk of death​. One study found that one in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of suffering a hip fracture. In addition to pain, a hip fracture results in a loss of physical function, decreased social engagement, increased dependence, and decreased quality of life.
  • Internal bleeding​, as the result of breaking a bone
  • Head injuries​ ranging from concussion to subdural hematoma to coma to other serious brain damage. When an elder who is on blood thinners hits their head, they are at an increased risk of brain damage and should get medical help immediately.
  • Emotional trauma​, which makes an elder more scared to move around and participate in activities, increasing their risk of falling again, as their muscles and bones weaken more from infrequent use.

After falling, the injuries that the elder sustained may take a long time to heal, as people’s bodies naturally take longer to heal with age. Even  injuries like cuts and scrapes can become very serious and decrease the quality of life. The nursing home needs to recognize their failure, seek medical assistance for the elder, and improve conditions so that future accidents are avoided.

What Causes Falls in a Nursing Home Setting?

Seniors living in nursing homes are at a heightened risk of slipping and falling. This is due to slower reaction times, reduced strength, poor eyesight, or a combination of factors. However, it is ultimately up to the nursing home care provider to recognize the risk and provide appropriate support. The following are ways in which a nursing home may be negligent by failing to prevent falls:

Declining Physical Health & Abilities

The main reason elders are at an increased risk of being injured from a fall is due to common age-related health conditions, such as:

  • Poor eyesight, which can be caused by impairments such as cataracts or myopia.
  • Weakened muscles or joint stiffness caused by arthritis.
  • Nervous system disorders, such as sciatica.
  • Stiffness and gait issues as a result of diseases such as Parkinson’s.
  • Diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s

When combined with other factors, elders in nursing homes are at an increased chance of having a fall that can result in serious injury. It is up to the nursing home staff to recognize an elder’s inability to properly maintain their balance and assist them.

Understaffing in Nursing Homes

Negligence and understaffed facilities are a major cause of nursing home falls in California. In understaffed nursing homes, residents may be left to wander unattended or forced to get out of bed to go to the bathroom on their own because no one answered their call for help.

An elder can also suffer a fall injury if a staff member does not adhere to guidelines and drops the elder upon trying to transfer them alone. This transfer can include the following: from and to the bed and wheelchair, from and to the toilet, and from and to a gurney. It is up to the nursing home to ensure the safety of your loved one. Falls caused by these unsafe conditions can be considered a form of nursing home neglect.

Unsafe Living Conditions

When combined with declining health and other risk factors, unsafe living conditions increase the chances of a fall. This is true especially in places in which there are many objects on the floor, wet floors, or poor lighting. If one of these conditions causes an elder to fall, it is the fault of the nursing home. It is their duty to provide residents with safe conditions that limit the risk of falling.

Inadequate Medical Supports & Assistance

Sometimes elders struggle with basic physical movements such as walking, crouching to use the bathroom, or standing in the shower. If an elder falls while trying to complete any one of these tasks unassisted, the injuries can be severe or even fatal. This is why it is very important that the nursing home staff recognize these difficulties and provide elderly residents with aids. Aids include canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and bed rails.

Bed rails must be set up properly, locked into place, and replaced once they start to show signs of malfunction. If the bed rails are not properly maintained, an elder could fall out of bed. It is the nursing home’s responsibility to provide and maintain proper aids for residents to help make their lives easier and safer.


Medication can also be a contributing factor in falls. It is important that the facility staff keep track of their residents’ medications and the corresponding side effects. Some side effects, such as drowsiness or dizziness, may increase the risk of falling. The staff must be aware of this and provide appropriate assistance.

Contact Attorney Bryant Today for a Free Legal Consultation

One fall can often lead to another especially in nursing homes with negligent supervision. This is why it is very important that action is taken regardless of how serious the injuries were. Otherwise, your loved one could fall again, and the next time they may not be so fortunate. Anytime an elder falls, their life is ultimately at risk. Contact Attorney Bryant and his team of knowledgeable San Diego elder abuse and neglect lawyers to ensure the future safety of your loved one. They have over 30 years of experience and offer free initial consultations, so don’t hesitate to get started today.

A fall in a nursing home may ultimately be a sign of neglect or abuse. Your call could prevent future accidents for your loved one and others in the care of the nursing home. It will also help spread awareness about the potential of hidden abuse and neglect in the facility.

“Joel and his team were the help I needed to approach the nursing home that didn’t take good care of my grandmother. With Joel’s help, my grandmother was fairly compensated for the injuries she suffered as a result of the nursing home’s neglect and abuse.”

Andrea C.

“When one of the most tragic events happened in my life, Joel Bryant and Jason Julius were there for me when I needed someone the most. They both were very professional, honest, compassionate, and supportive."

Brent R.

“Joel was amazingly accessible, by phone, email and often, in person, and still is. He is a professional with an understanding heart, and a sense of humor. I still feel very fortunate to have had him on my side.”

Michelle B.
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