Elderly people are often weak, frail, and lose mental acuity, so it is not surprising that they are vulnerable to getting injured. Sometimes injuries are accidental, but they may also be caused by abuse from caregivers or nursing homes that are supposed to protect seniors, or they may arise from sources such as medical malpractice, premises and product liability, and vehicle accidents.
When an elderly loved one has suffered harm due to elder abuse, neglect, or negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation by taking legal action against an individual or a facility that is responsible for the damage. However, laws regarding elderly injuries are complicated, and your case must be handled properly to ensure you get the settlement you deserve. The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania elder abuse attorneys at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters have spent decades honing their skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to abuse, negligence and medical malpractice. Our attorneys offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation.
We offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your case and determine how we can help, so contact us online or call to set up your free consultation.
Lawsuits for Injuries
The following are common situations that may lead to an elder injury lawsuit:
1) Elder Abuse
Elder abuse occurs when someone harms, neglects or exploits an older or care-dependent person. Abusive conduct prohibited by law that may cause injuries in the elderly includes:
- Illegal use of chemical and physical restraints
- Unreasonable confinement
- Physical or sexual harm, assault, harassment or abuse
- Depriving a patient of adequate care, food, water or medication
- Undue influence or coercion, intimidation
- Taking property or material and financial exploitation
- Unsafe living conditions resulting in falls
- Pharmaceutical errors, confusion and mix-ups
2) Negligent Supervision of the Elderly
Individuals who have responsibility to monitor and supervise the elderly, such as nursing home staff, may be sued for negligent supervision if an elderly person suffers injuries such as:
- infections or sores due to inadequate hygiene care
- falls and injuries because of wandering off the premises due to lack of supervision
- choking due to inappropriately-sized or textured food
- physical abuse leading to bruises, broken bones, and head injuries.
In addition to those working directly with the elderly, their employers must ensure that employees follow company policies to prevent injury while caring for the elderly. When an elderly patient is injured, employers may be held responsible for both their own wrongful behavior and for the negligent behavior of their employees.
3) Medical Malpractice
Hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes and their staff must act reasonably and uphold proper standards of care, including maintaining safe and adequate facilities and equipment and having adequate rules and policies that protect the elderly and keep them from being injured. According to Pennsylvania law, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional commits medical negligence by violating the generally accepted standard of care used by other local medical professionals. The medical negligence must have directly resulted in the patient’s injuries or death.
However, not every mistake or injury rises to the level of negligence. In order to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, you must prove the following:strong>
- Professional relationship – The patient went to the doctor or medical institution as a patient for treatment.
- Negligence — The professional or institution did not adhere to a reasonable standard of care.
- Causation — The medical negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm such as injury or death.
4) Product Liability
Elderly people may be injured by the very products that are intended to help them, most often by problems due to defective medical devices. Example include and unsafe pharmaceuticals:
- surgical mesh that cuts through flesh and organs and causes infections and hemorrhage
- defibrillators that repeatedly shock patients.
- Drugs to treat diabetes and drug thinning products
Faulty medical device and products claims fall under three categories:
- Defective design of the product
- Defective marketing without informing the patient of the dangers involved
- Defective manufacture of the product.
5) Premises liability
Property owners have a duty of care to keep their premises safe for others. If it can be proven that an owner breached the duty of care and this breach caused an elderly person’s injuries, the owner may be liable.
Harm of the elderly from fall injuries is the most common source of negligent premises liability cases. Most harm from falls occurs due to unsafe conditions such as slippery floors, tripping hazards, stairs without proper handrails, walking areas with abrupt changes in surface levels, high thresholds for doors, and cracked or blocked sidewalks.
In a premises liability case, it is important to show that there was negligence in creating an unsafe condition that caused the injury. The condition must be shown to create an unreasonable risk that an elderly person could not have anticipated. With respect to the liability of a landowner or renter, cases generally fall into the category of business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Each is entitled a different standard of care. This is a very complex area of the law.
6) Vehicle accidents
Due to their frail nature, when an elderly individual is injured in a car crash, damages sustained are often severe. The elderly recover slowly and chances of death increase.
When the crash was caused by someone else’s negligence, the injured party may be eligible for compensation for both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages – expenses which can be objectively calculated, such as property damage, medical and hospital bills, therapy and rehabilitation costs, costs of equipment such as wheelchairs, loss of income and future wage horizon, property damage, and funeral and burial costs if death is involved.
- Non-economic damages – costs which are more subjective, including the loss of life’s pleasures before death; physical damages that include physical pain, scarring, disfigurement, and permanent disability; the loss of a marital relationship (consortium); and emotional damages such as stress, anxiety, and mental anguish.
Contact Us for Help
If you or an elderly family member has experienced harm or a wrongful death has occurred due to elder injury in Pennsylvania, you may be entitled to seek compensation by taking legal action against an individual or a facility that has been negligent or done deliberate damage. Since your case must be handled properly to ensure you get the settlement you deserve, your next step should be to consult our skilled and experienced Pennsylvania elder injury attorney at Rieders, Travis, Dohrmann, Mowrey, Humphrey & Waters.