As life expectation increases in the UK, thanks to improved healthcare and lifestyles, there is an increasing demand for care home places to cater for the needs of those in later life.
Most care homes look after their charges extremely well, but accidents still happen and indeed, research shows that care home residents are three times more likely to fall than elderly frail people living in their own homes. Injury rates are also much higher for care home residents, with up to 20 per cent of falls resulting in hip fractures.
So what can you do if you, or a loved one, suffers injuries from a fall in a care home? Andrew Wendon, a Partner in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team at WBW Solicitors in Exeter, explains.
Common reasons for falls in a care home include tripping on misplaced objects, slipping on slippery floors, residents falling while trying to get out of a chair or bed by themselves, or falling while trying to get to an out-of-reach mobility aid.
To successfully claim compensation for injuries sustained in a care home fall, you first need to show that the injury was caused by the care home’s negligence. This means being able to prove that they owed you a duty of care (care homes generally will), that they failed in this duty and that harm was suffered as a result.
The care home would be found negligent if, for example, you or your loved one fell because: care home staff were not properly trained; health and safety assessments were not carried out properly; equipment was badly maintained; staff were carrying out duties they were not qualified to do; or resident monitoring was inadequate.
Generally, adults who suffer a personal injury have to bring a compensation claim for themselves. However, you can make a claim on behalf of a loved one if:
- they lack ‘mental capacity’ – that is, they are incapable in law of taking in, processing and considering information sufficiently to bring a claim;
- they have passed away and you have been appointed as their personal representative and wish to bring a claim on behalf of their estate; or
- you have been granted a Power of Attorney by your loved one – this would usually give you legal authority to act on their behalf.
How a solicitor can help
If you or a loved one have been injured in a fall at a care home, and the care home’s negligence was wholly or even partly to blame, you should consult a specialist personal injury solicitor straight away as a personal injury claim needs to be brought within three years of the injury manifesting itself.
Your solicitor can guide you through the claim process, gathering the evidence you need to succeed in your claim including referral to a medical expert who will assess your injuries and the impact they have had on your life. They will often be able to obtain a settlement without the matter going to court.
The amount of compensation will depend on the nature and seriousness of the injury, but could include recompense for medical bills, physiotherapy and travel expenses to the hospital, as well as compensation for pain and suffering and mental trauma.
For more information on claiming compensation for a trip, slip or fall in a care home, or for advice on any other personal injury matter, please contact Andrew Wendon, Partner in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence department on 01392 260162 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. WBW Solicitors has nine offices across the South West in Newton Abbot, Bovey Tracey, Torquay, Paignton, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.