Slip and Fall Accident Involving Seniors: Can You File a Claim?

Seniors are frail. One accident, which may not cause pain to younger people, can send the elderly straight to the emergency room.

A simple slip or fall is among the most common accidents among the 60 and above age groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, around 3 million people are treated in emergency rooms nationwide because of injuries due to slipping/tripping and falling. One in five of them will receive serious injuries such as broken bones or head impact.

For older folks, an injury from a fall can be debilitating. They may never again regain the ability to move freely, or they will suffer from chronic pain that will affect the quality of their life. A fall may also be fatal for seniors.
It can be prevented. By removing obstacles on the path of an elderly person, one can minimize the risk of falls.
But, what can be done when a senior suffers serious injuries from slip and fall accidents that you believe could have been prevented?

The Liability of Businesses and Property Owners

No one wants to see an older adult get hurt, and everyone has the responsibility to make sure that they can move with ease and without fear that they would get into an accident.

That said, business owners and property owners have the responsibility that their property is safe. They can take precautions in order to prevent such incidents from happening.

For example, in a restaurant, spills of beverages on the floor should immediately be wiped away. At an apartment building, high places should have an adequate railing.

If not, the victim, or the family of the victim, can pursue a claim with the help of an experienced personal injury.

When an Accident is Caused by Negligence

An accident that is believed to be caused by negligence may have a case. It is best to consult an attorney who specializes in the field to see if it is possible to claim that the business owner or the property owner's carelessness led to the accident.

The plaintiff must be able to prove that the other party failed to recognize the hazard and address it appropriately. For example, an uneven walkway that has already caused a few people to stumble should have been fixed immediately or at least have a note posted nearby to warn the public.

The owner is also liable if they created unsafe conditions. By stacking a pile of boxes on the pathway, they have endangered the safety of anyone who happens to be walking by.

The claim should be "reasonable" which means that, if the other party did their part, they could have prevented the accident from happening. But they failed to act like any other person would have in that situation.

Things that are beyond their control, therefore, are excused.

When the Victim is at Fault, Too

However, sometimes, the victim of a fall accident has not been wronged by another party. Certain factors can lead to an increased risk of injuries from a fall and many of them naturally come with aging. Poor eyesight is a common cause of slips and falls among the elderly, but it is something that is out of the control of a business or property owner. Existing problems with balance may also lead to an accident.

In many incidences, it is a mix of both. The senior is already frail and has mobility issues due to eyesight, illness, medication, or old age. They are already at a higher risk of falls. So, when they encountered another hazard, such as an uneven walkway or a pile of boxes on the path, they stumbled.

These factors will affect their claims, but they will likely still be able to demand compensation for damages.
On the other hand, if the accident is caused by the plaintiff's own carelessness, they would not win the case. The defendant can argue that the victim was engaged in an activity that may have impaired their ability to avoid the accident such as looking at their phone. They might also say that the victim should not be in an area that is unsafe in the first place. These factors can affect the outcome of the case, too.

A slip and fall accident can happen anywhere and to anyone. However, when an elderly person is involved, it becomes a bigger problem. It can result in serious injuries or even death. But, it can be prevented by being vigilant, identifying hazards, and making appropriate repairs and replacements. If another entity is at fault for the accident, talk to a lawyer about your options.

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Posted - 02/12/2021