Florida Health is promoting the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries) toolkit, which offers fall-prevention resources to health-care providers and patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports fall accidents are the leading cause of accidental death among older Americans. Each year nearly 3 million elderly residents visit hospital emergency rooms after a fall accident.
Fall Injuries a Threat in Florida Nursing Homes
Caregiver training is a critical issue as seniors most likely to call are those in nursing homes and other senior-care facilities — where half of all residents suffer a fall each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Nursing home fall accidents are largely preventable. Seniors reside in such facilities precisely because they need supervision and assistance. Yet too often these incidents leave a senior significantly disabled and lead to an early death.
It’s a critical safety issue because elderly residents are both more likely to fall and more likely to be seriously injured in the event of a fall. The CDC reports more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling. Broken arms, hands, wrists and ankles are also common. Even the fear of falling may reduce a senior’s mobility to the point where independence becomes compromised.
Falls on Business Property in Southwest Florida
Here in Southwest Florida we have numerous businesses that cater specifically to seniors. Such businesses should take care to provide seniors with adequate handrails, lighting, signage and other safety features. It’s the right thing to do and may reduce a business owner’s liability in the event of an accident.
F.S. 768.0755 of Florida’s premises liability law makes businesses liable for wet floors and other foreign substances or obstructions on the floor of a business establishment if the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Constructive knowledge can be inferred if a condition exists for a length of time sufficient to discover it or if it occurred with regularity and was therefore foreseeable.
In general, business owners owe customers a higher duty of care than a private property owner. But in most circumstances a person lawfully on the property of another has a reasonable expectation of safety. F.S. 768.075 affords few protections to trespassers, unless the trespasser is a small child. Florida law recognizes the attractive nuisance doctrine, which in some cases may hold property owners liable for foreseeable injuries caused to a trespassing child by an “attractive nuisance,” such as an ungated swimming pool.
The fact is Southwest Florida’s retirement population means business and property owners should make the extra effort to help ensure a preventable fall accident does not occur on their watch. Those caring for the elderly have an obligation to take fall-prevention seriously.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.