When a patient is injured by a fall in an emergency room, doctor’s office or hospital, who can be held liable? Before you can answer that question, you must determine whether the fall was the result of medical malpractice or ordinary negligence.
Medical Malpractice Fall Injuries
There are many causes of falls in hospitals and other medical facilities. However, the fall will not be considered a result of malpractice unless it was caused by medical negligence.
A medical malpractice lawsuit must meet 4 criteria:
- The patient was owed a duty of care.
- That duty was breached by a deviation from accepted standards of care.
- The patient suffered damages.
- The damages suffered were a direct result of the medical provider’s breach of duty.
For a fall injury in a medical facility to meet these criteria, the fall must have been the result of a medical provider’s failure in providing an acceptable level of care.
Here are some examples of how medical malpractice could cause a fall injury:
- A doctor failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed a condition that affects the patient’s balance.
- The patient was overmedicated, not made aware of a medication’s side effects, or prescribed a medication that conflicted with another medication.
- The patient’s fall risk was not assessed or managed correctly.
When you are injured in fall because of medical negligence, it is important to speak to an attorney who has specific experience in malpractice claims. Depending on the circumstances, some parties may be liable for your damages, from lab technicians and nursing staff to physicians and administrators. A Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney is the best person to help you determine the right parties to pursue a claim against.
Premises Liability Injuries at Medical Facilities
Aside from medical negligence, falls in hospitals and doctor’s offices can occur as a result of ordinary negligence. For example, slipping on a wet floor that was not properly marked could result in serious injuries — but the floor being wet and unmarked has nothing to do with your medical diagnosis or medications you’re taking. Anyone walking by could suffer injuries because of the same hazard.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring the reasonable safety of those visiting their property. This includes owners of medical facilities, including hospitals, urgent care clinics, doctor’s offices, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes.
If a patient — or a worker or a visitor — falls because of an unsafe condition of the property, they may be able to pursue a premises liability claim against the owner or operator of the building.
Common hazards that cause premises liability injuries include:
- Poor lighting
- Wet floors and stairs
- Broken flooring, steps or handrails
- Exposed or unsecured wires
- Bulging or unsecured carpeting
- Inadequate security
A Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney can assist with a premises liability or hospital fall claim that is not medical malpractice, which are much less difficult and costly to pursue than medical malpractice. A non-malpractice claim has a 4 year statute of limitations, rather than the 2 year time limit that comes with a medical malpractice claim. With a non-medical malpractice claim, there is no need for expert medical opinions or requirement to file a notice of intent to sue to the health care provider. They are also easier claims to settle out of court because the cost is often covered under a general liability insurance policy rather than medical malpractice insurance, which not all medical providers carry.
Medical malpractice claims are governed by an incredibly complex set of laws and precedents. If you don’t have an attorney who is knowledgable and experienced specifically in medical malpractice law, your case may be thrown out by a judge.
Get Help After a Hospital Fall
Patients who have suffered a fall, whether because of medical negligence or unsafe premises, can have a harder time recovering from their original injury or illness, they may suffer new injuries or complications, and also experience unnecessary emotional and mental stress as a result of the fall.
If a fall in a hospital, rehab center, nursing home or other medical facility has injured you, Fort Lauderdale accident attorney Lisa Levine has the experience and resources to help no matter what type of negligence caused the accident. Call (954) 256-1820 today to schedule a free consultation.