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What are the different types of hospital slip and fall claims?

Premises, Liability, and/or medical malpractice - What is the difference?

Slip and Falls can occur anywhere, anytime, and can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, damages and injuries. Whether you are at a warehouse or factory, or simply working inside an office building, slipping and falling can be a dangerous hazard.

This is exceptionally present if it occurs within a hospital setting, which can lead to more accident-prone situations than other areas. With the possibility of those that are already in a fragile state possibly slipping and injuring themselves, the danger and seriousness can lead to large claims and lawsuits, depending on the situation and the people involved. Here are just some of the perspectives to remember when dealing with a possible hospital slip and fall claim.

What constitutes a Hospital Slip and Fall

A hospital slip and fall is almost exactly what it sounds like. Within the premises of a hospital, or part of the medical facility in question, a person has slipped and fallen, and has sustained an injury because of this. The injury can be a simple bruise or twisted wrist, but can also range to traumatic bone fractures or sustained brain injuries. In some of the worst cases, it can even lead to death.

However, these types of injuries and occurrences are ones that should be extremely simple to keep from happening. Many hospitals tend to have multiple signs warning patients and visitors alike that they should watch their step, and be wary of how they move around the hospital. As such, hospital slip and fall occurrences are also known as “Never Events”, as they should generally never happen if the hospital staff and facility are following the proper safety guidelines.

Where can They Occur?

When talking about a slip and fall claim, it is important that a detailed report is given on where and when the slip and fall took place. There are some obvious answers, such as the slip and fall happening within a hospital hallway or room, where it is clearly defined as being a part of the hospital itself.

However, there can be situations where it is a bit more grey in terms of what is considered the premises. In many situations, the property owner of the hospital, rehabilitation center, or other medical facilities, must know what is within their property limits. In some cases, a slip and fall occurring within the parking lot of a large hospital facility may be acknowledged as having valid leverage in a slip and fall claim against the hospital.

Slip and Fall Negligence

There are two main types of slip and fall claims that are put forth. The first, and often more common of the two, is a Negligence claim against the hospital for the accident. Negligence, as defined, means that there was a failure to take the proper steps to provide care for those within the hospital grounds. These situations can occur in both hospital visitors or guests, as well as patients in the care of the hospital.

Negligence can come in many forms. Some of the more direct situations can be a spill of liquid on the floor that was not properly cleaned up, a wire being left exposed and hanging in a slightly dangerous area, or sidewalks not being de-iced during the wintertime.

There are also more indirect causes of Negligence. These are more subtle, but can still be a leading cause as to why the situation occurred. Some situations that may be indirect causes would be poor or improper lighting of a hallway or room, unsecured carpet or tiles, or missing handrails in some locations. These are more indirect, as they may be harder to point out since they have occurred more over time, and are not immediately apparent, such as an exposed wire.

If any of these situations occur, they would fall under the negligence portion, which would mean just poor management of safety on the hospitals side with their building, and indirectly put patients, visitors, and guests in harm's way. Although they are part of the facility, it was their lack of taking care of the problem at hand that allowed the injury to occur.

Slip and Fall Malpractice

Besides a slip and fall negligence claim, there is a bit more dire slip and fall malpractice claim that can come about with much larger ramifications if acknowledged and awarded to the claimant. In these cases, a slip and fall accident occurred due to a direct conflict of a medical professionals orders or diagnosis.

Such cases can be extremely dangerous and harmful, as the impact of the accident is directly tied to specific staff in the medical facility. One example of a slip and fall malpractice claim would be a physician prescribing multiple medications that each have a possible side effect of drowsiness and unsteadiness, and not informing the patient. If this were to lead to the patient falling or collapsing and sustaining heavy injury, it would be considered malpractice.

Another example would be if a doctor or nurse were to assess that a patient is more fit than they actually are, and were not to provide them with proper equipment during their hospital stay, such as an ambulatory or walker. If the patient were to slip and fall, the decision made by the staff to not provide the walker or cane could be seen as a possible cause of a malpractice claim.

If you are unsure where your case may fall within the slip and fall claims department, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced medical lawyer. Having an experienced lawyer there to walk you through your possible options can help to clear out some of the grey areas, and allow you to gain a solid footing against the people that wish the “Never Event” had never occurred.

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