Imagine that you are walking to visit your relative in the hospital. They just underwent Chemotherapy, and you are there to wish them a good recovery and spend some quality time with them. They are on the 4th floor of the building in hall A, so you go ahead and take the stairs up to meet them. Along the way, you accidentally slip and fall off of a damaged step that came apart as you put some weight on it. Because of this, you fall and injure your arm inside of the hospital stairway. Are you entitled to compensation for the accident that occurred?
Situations like these may seem a bit far-fetched, but are actually a reality for many that visit hospitals around the nation. Not only that, they can occur to those that we love dearly, the patients within the walls of the hospital itself. Situations like these tend to be swept under the rug, as they are some of the most common and easiest to prevent, so much so that they are often dubbed “Never Events” by medical staff. It can be extremely difficult to get a case forward if they do occur, but if you feel like you do have a solid claim, these are the main points you need to worry about.
What is a Slip and Fall/ “Never Event”
To start, you will need a decent understanding of what a hospital slip and fall accident entails. Unlike workplace slip and fall accidents, there can be different types of these “Never Events” that can either be due to negligence or malpractice on the part of the hospital. A hospital slip and fall is, true to its name, a slip and fall accident that occurs on hospital grounds.
These accidents can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from an improper clean up of a liquid spill, to an improper diagnosis that put a patient at risk. Either way, the injured can come out with injuries ranging from light sprains to life-threatening brain injuries.
Who is to blame for a “Never Event”?
When it comes to who is in the wrong, there can be multiple factors and groups that are possible culprits. As a patient or visitor to the hospital, you may look towards the staff and faculty as the primary suspects to blame for the accident occurring. However, the staff of the facility may see it as your own fault for slipping and falling, as they may believe that they have given those, like yourself, proper warning and caution before you entered.
In these situations, it is impossible to say that only one group is in the wrong. An accident occurs due to a lapse in judgement on both sides, whether small or large. However, the one to blame is generally the one that is seen as negligent in some fashion, or that there were other factors in play, in accordance with the laws and guidelines laid out.
What needs to be Proven for Negligence?
In cases where there may have been some oversight by the hospital staff, a case of negligence may be the written claim. Proving the case of negligence, however, can be a bit more complicated. Negligence, on its own, is the understanding that the party in question, which is usually the hospital staff, did not take proper care of the facilities or of any immediate accidents that may have occurred prior to the slip and fall. Such cases can be seen in examples like:
- A liquid spill not being mopped up properly
- Exposed wiring or damaged stairs/walkways
- Damaged or unsteady railings and covers
In these situations, if there is a clear connection between one of these types of negligent behavior of the staff, and the ensuing fall, then there would be proven negligence on the hospital. The negligence would come from them knowing of the dangerous scenario, and choosing to not take care of it properly, or right away, leaving those areas as possible areas of concerns for patients and guests.
What needs to be Proven for Malpractice?
Malpractice connections can be a bit more difficult to prove. With these such cases, the chances of the hospital pushing harder against your claim will become more likely. This is because the linking of the accident is directly tied to a medical diagnosis or decision made by a doctor or physician at the hospital, and not just a temporary lapse in judgement.
There are many instances of possible malpractice situations. These can be, but are not limited to:
- A misdiagnosis by a doctor
- Overprescribing drugs or medicine with increased risks of side effects
- Misreading the condition of a patient, resulting in improper medical care
Many of these are egregious errors that can result in heavy injuries, and possible death if not dealt with properly. To prove that the slip and fall accident is connected to the error of the physician in question, you will generally need hard evidence, such as the medicine bottles stating that the side effects cause drowsiness and unsteadiness when walking. It can also come in the form of a written statement on the doctor's orders, or a comprehension of a patient's last exam stating the incorrect diagnosis. Any of these can be used in proving that a Malpractice claim for the slip and fall event has merit going forward.