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Fall Accidents, Premises Liability & Risks Among Older Adults

‘Tis the season for falls.

While some areas of the Carolinas don’t experience a lot of heavy frost or snowfall, autumn leaves and wet rain can create their own dangers. The busy holiday shopping season is just around the corner. And our older loved ones will be on the go, whether hitting the mall or visiting us in our homes across town or across country.Landlords, business owners and property managers have an obligation to provide safe passage. When a customer or invited guest is injured, a premises liability claim may result. Common property-injury cases include:

-Slip and Fall
-Struck by merchandise/object
-Elevator/Escalator accident
-Stairwell accidents
-Parking lot accidents
-Negligent security
-Sidewalk accidents
-Evacuation injuries

-Animal bites
Older residents are at particularly high risk of serious or fatal injury as a result of a fall accident. Each year, one third of adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall accident, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently, serious or fatal injuries result.

-More than 2.3 million older adults visit the emergency room each year after a fall accident.

-Annual direct medical costs exceed $30 billion.

-Falls are the leading cause of accidental death among older adults.

-Traumatic brain injury accounts for nearly half of all fall deaths.

Business owners must take special care to ensure the safety of customers and guests. Common dangers include merchandise stacked in isles or too high on shelving, wet floors, uneven or broken sidewalks or pavement, poor lighting and broken or missing handrails.

We talk frequently about monitoring an older loved one’s driving skills, but nothing is more basic than mobility. There are things older adults can do to reduce their risks of an accident:

-Exercise regularly.

-Review medications with a doctor or pharmacist.

-Have eyes checked annually.

-Reduce hazards in the home.

The other group of older adults who are at high risk for a fall accident are those in a nursing home. On the face of it, that might seem to make some sense; it’s our frailest loved ones who reside in homes and assisted-living facilities. Yet families have made the decision to place a relative to prevent just such a fall accident from occurring. Often low staffing levels at these facilities lead to increased fall risks — particularly around the holiday’s when most residents are most active.

The typical 100-bed nursing home reports an astounding 200 falls a year, according to government statistics. For those who survive, broken bones, hips and other joints commonly result. And a fear of falling may further reduce mobility and quality of life.

And, lastly, don’t discount your own risks. The end of Daylight Savings Time will find more of us shopping, walking and commuting home after dark. Stay safe, report hazards at work, and do your part to reduce the risk of accidents.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid.

Additional Resources:
Carolina Dog Bites Have Authorities Urging Caution & Common Sense, By Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP, Oct. 11, 2012.

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