Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Nursing Home Fall Claims in Bellevue: What You Should Know

Posted Friday, October 21, 2022 by Chris Thayer

Negligence causes most falls, especially serious injury falls. At nursing homes in Bellevue, understaffing, which affects about 94% of these facilities, often causes such negligence. Understaffed facilities often do not have staff members in common areas to assist residents as they walk around or, more importantly, as they get up and sit down. Additionally, understaffed facilities do not have staff members to redirect residents away from construction areas and other hazardous areas.

Many older adults have pre-existing conditions which contribute to the risk of a fall or the injuries the victim sustains. We mentioned getting up and sitting down above. Frequently, these everyday movements cause older adults to break their hips, usually because the victim’s center of gravity is off. Additionally, many older adults have gait disorders. Since they shuffle their feet when they walk, when these individuals stumble, they cannot regain their balance, and they fall.

A fall causes severe physical and emotional injuries. In fact, these injuries are so severe that most nursing home fall victims cannot ever live independently again. A Bellevue personal injury lawyer obtains the financial compensation these victims need to make the most out of the rest of their lives. Maximum compensation is a process and not a result. An attorney stands with you throughout the process, no matter how long it takes.

*Legal Responsibility* Most people are familiar with the duty of care. For example, motorists have a legal responsibility to drive defensively and, if possible, avoid accidents. Property owners have a similar responsibility if the victim was an invitee.

Basically, an invitee is anyone with permission to be on the property. Furthermore, an invitee must benefit the owner in some way. Nursing home residents are invitees, specifically commercial invitees, in Washington. Nursing home visitors are arguably invitees as well. Visitors lift residents’ spirits, and that benefits nursing home owners.

To fulfill the duty of reasonable care, owners must create safe environments for invitees. Furthermore, owners must inspect the property, to ensure that it remains safe.

A lesser duty of care applies if the victim was a trespasser (no permission and no benefit) or a licensee (permission but no benefit).

*Practical Responsibility* Additionally, a Bellevue personal injury lawyer must prove the owner knew or should have known about the fall-causing hazard, and that owner negligence, or a lack of care, caused the injury.

Wet spots on floors, uneven indoor walkways, loose handrails, and icy outdoor walkways are the most common fall hazards in Washington nursing homes. Direct evidence of actual knowledge of these hazards includes restroom cleaning reports and safety inspection reports. Circumstantial evidence of constructive knowledge (should have known) usually goes back to the reasonableness standard. If the owner had a reasonable opportunity to address the hazard, the owner should have done so.

Before 2022, the open-and-obvious doctrine was the most effective insurance company defense in fall injury cases. Basically, if the victim did not watch where s/he was going, the owner was not responsible for a fall injury. However, a Washington Court of Appeals decision essentially gutted this defense and made it much less effective. So, it is easier to prove negligence and obtain compensation.

This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

*Rely on a Hard-Working King County Attorney* Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.