Study Finds Stressful Life Events Increase the Risk of Serious Falls Involving Seniors


November 07, 2013

Many people justifiably presume that motor vehicle accidents cause the greatest number of injuries and fatalities among adults. However, those who are elderly face a greater risk of suffering a debilitating or life-threatening injury from a fall according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The scope of this risk is significant given that one in three adults who are 65 or older suffer a fall. During a recent twelve month period, 2.3 million seniors 65 or older sought emergency room treatment for fall-related injuries while over 660,000 seniors are hospitalized. A new study suggests that the risk of a fall involving seniors may increase in the aftermath of stressful life events.

The results of the study, which were published in the journal of Age and Ageing, suggests that families may wish to be extremely attentive about potential fall hazards after stressful events whether visiting their loved one in a senior residential facility like a nursing home or accompanying a loved one to the supermarket. The study involving approximately 5,000 seniors revealed that almost thirty percent of seniors who experienced a single stressful life event suffered a fall. The risk of a fall rose to 35.5 percent with two stressful events and almost forty percent with three stressful life events. The study focused on specific types of life events that may cause stress, such as severe injury or illness of a spouse, death of a close friend or relative, a move or change in one's residential situation or serious financial problems.

If your elderly loved one falls and suffers a debilitating injury, the senior's right to compensation may depend on where the accident occurs.

Nursing Homes: When the fall occurs in a nursing home, these residential facilities have an obligation to evaluate the potential fall risk associated with a resident and to implement a plan to protect the senior from falls. If the nursing home fails to conduct a proper screening or to implement anti-fall measures, this may provide a basis for imposing liability on a skilled nursing facility. When nursing homes do not staff a facility with sufficient employees, this decision can mean insufficient supervision of a senior that leads to a fall.

Commercial Premises: When a business like a grocery store, gas station or mall is open to the public, the owner of the premises may be liable for hazards on the property that cause a senior's fall. When a fall occurs because of a spill of a liquid or debris in a walkway, an investigation may be necessary to determine the duration of time the hazard was present, any steps taken to correct the hazard and knowledge of employees of the presence of the hazard. If an elderly family member falls in a store, restaurant or other business establishment, you can increase the probability of success in a personal injury claim by seeking prompt legal representation before critical evidence like video surveillance footage and witnesses disappear.

Public Property: While those who operate public facilities have a legal duty that is similar to owners of commercial property to take reasonable steps to eliminate hazards that they know or should know exist, the process of pursuing a legal claim may involve special timing and procedural requirements. Prior to filing a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity, an injured senior must provide a notice of claim to the public entity following the precise requirements as to both time and manner of notice.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years Experience to Work For You

If you or someone close to you has suffered a serious injury during a fall on the premises of another, our Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.