Slips, trips and falls are all too common among the elderly, but when an older person suffers a fall accident, there can be a particularly long-lasting physical and emotional impact. In many cases, these types of accidents and injury are avoidable if someone else had taken greater care. If you or an elderly relative have fallen and sustained an injury and it wasn’t your fault, you should be able to make a claim.
We would caution against any assumption that accidents are to be expected when you’re elderly and that you should accept that this is your reality. The fact is, if you go out (or you’re in care setting) and there are hazards that make it more likely for elderly people to fall over, those responsible should face claims for compensation for falls involving the elderly. Failures in minimising or preventing falls is not acceptable.
We do understand that making personal injury claims is a daunting prospect at any time of life, but the money you win can really help you on the road to recovery. You or a loved one can talk things through with a trained legal adviser to find out if you can claim. Get in touch for free advice on 0800 234 6438. Or if you’d prefer, you can fill in the secure online form to arrange a call back.
Around a third of people in the UK aged 65-plus and around half of those aged 80 and over, fall at least once each year
While falls can happen to anyone at any time, it’s undeniable that this becomes more of a worry for many people over the age of around 65. Although more older people than ever are working later in life; and many are increasingly able to pursue a vigorous social life while they can – their age means they may be more likely to trip and fall. They’re also more likely to suffer serious injury.
There are number of reasons for this, including:
Though an elderly person is more likely to fall, that doesn’t mean you should accept it if someone else is to blame. This is why claims for compensation for falls involving the elderly are increasingly being made by the injured.
Unfortunately, if you or a relative is elderly, you’re far more likely to suffer serious injury when you slip or lose your balance and fall. If you’re suffering from osteoporosis, it’s more likely you will suffer a break or ‘fragility fracture’. It’s also true that if an elderly person suffers an injury as result of a fall, it can hasten a general decline in their health.
The elderly are also more likely to lose their confidence more quickly, so if someone trips or falls over, they could start to feel more fearful of going out; and become isolated and withdrawn.
NHS statistics on hospital admissions in England underline the disproportionate impact of trips and or falls on older people: in the year 2019-20 there were 518,502 admissions to hospital following slips, trips and falls (an increase of nearly 9% in three years). Most of these were elderly – and time spent in hospital can significantly reduce their confidence and sense of independence.
Unfortunately, older people who live in care settings are far more likely to fall than those who live at home. According to the Care Inspectorate, a quarter of those who fall in care homes suffer serious injuries; and 40% of hospital admissions from care homes result from a fall.
For a free consultation about claiming following a fall, call 0800 234 6438. Or, if you’d prefer, fill in the secure online form to arrange a call back.
If older people slip or fall, their injuries are likely to be more serious than if a younger person falls. Not only are they more likely to suffer bone fractures because of poor bone health, they are more likely to suffer further complications. The most common types of injury older people suffer after a slip, trip or fall include:
If the injured person is elderly, they are likely to suffer far more serious injuries, possibly even death. They are also more likely to suffer a fast deterioration in their health and their life shortened as a result.
Falls in the elderly are not inevitable, even if they are more common. If you or a loved one has slipped, tripped or fallen – it is almost always because there was an additional risk factor. So, if you think someone else should be held responsible for the injuries suffered by a senior, it seems fair and reasonable that they should be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Your compensation won’t undo what’s happened, but it will help you as you physically and emotionally recover from what can be a painful and frightening experience. Thankfully, most elderly slip, trip and fall injuries cases are settled before court action is required; but if a court hearing becomes necessary – your specialist solicitor will ensure the process is fully explained so that you don’t have to worry.
You can claim for your actual injuries, pain and suffering – including if you’ve suffered mentally as a result of your fall. How much compensation you receive would depend on various factors, including your age and your recovering time. To help your solicitor recover maximum compensation for you or an elderly loved one, a specialist medical or expert examination will be carried out to assess the injuries and their impact on your health and prognosis (covered by your no win no fee agreement).
As well as compensation for your pain and suffering (known as ‘general damages’), you can also claim for your financial losses (‘special damages’). If, for example, you’ve torn clothing, and also had to pay out for medical treatment and travel expenses, you can claim these back as part of your compensation claim.
All this can be done on a risk free no win no fee basis, which means you will not have to pay out any legal fees or other costs if you’re not successful. Your specialist personal injury solicitors, regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, can explain the injury claims process to you – just phone for free on 0800 234 6438 or fill in the secure online form to arrange a call back.
There are thousands of elderly people being cared for in care or nursing homes. These settings must be registered as service providers with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is England’s independent regulator for health and social care.
The CQC is responsible for inspecting care and nursing homes. The standards expected of these service providers are called the ‘fundamental standards’, and they must not fall below this standard. The stipulations include that care must be appropriate and reflect the person’s needs, staff must have the requisite skills and, importantly, residents should receive safe care and treatment ‘in a manner which prevents avoidable harm’ – including from the risk of falling. For example, lighting should be adequate and residents’ footwear should be suitable for them.
It’s not hard to see why a care or residential setting must undertake a slips and falls risk assessment to minimise the risk of fall accidents. If older people suffer the types of falls common in care homes, eg slipping on spilt liquid; or falling over trip hazards, there is a high risk of injury.
So if you or a relative have suffered a fall in a care or nursing home, the likelihood is that these expected standards have not been met. If the way you or your loved one have been treated or looked after amounted to negligence, causing the injuries, you have an excellent chance to recover personal injury compensation.
Also, if a fall has happened in a care home, you or a loved one should consider making a formal complaint and check it’s centrally logged with the care provider. This should prompt managers to start putting further measures in place to reduce the risk of falling in future. However, though the NHS does have a clearly defined complaints procedure the situation is far from simple. The consumer champion for users of health and social care – Healthwatch England – has even gone as far as drawing up a list of calls for action, with demands which include:
Experienced legal advisers are ready to guide you through the complaints and claims processes.
If anyone slips or falls in a public place such as a hospital, supermarket, train station, leisure centre – or even a park – and it was because of a breach of duty of care in relation to falls prevention, they ought to be held responsible for the injuries caused.
The Health and Safety Executive makes clear that the owners of public spaces have a duty to ensure all surfaces underfoot are maintained, monitored and cleaned in a manner which keeps them safe. This duty of care extends to customers and visitors – whether young or old – as well as staff, and is enshrined in legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
These, along with other health and safety rules, stipulate, eg that spillages should be cleaned up as soon as possible; wet floors should be dried or prominent warning signs displayed; and that obstructions such as loose wire, stock and debris should be cleared away. Failure to do these things in a reasonable time may well constitute negligence.
The fact is, any business organisation and local authority has a legal duty of care to take reasonable precautions to ensure slips, trips and falls prevention. For example, a train station operator is responsible for clearing snow and ice on the platform to prevent slips; a supermarket must clear up spillages within a reasonable time period; and warning signs in relation to temporary hazards should be put in place.
So even if you’re an older person, you should not be at risk of injury by simply being out in public. And if you have tripped or fallen, it is important to find out if someone else should be held responsible for what has happened.
If you’re an older person, falling should not be seen as inevitable if you’re walking around outside. It doesn’t matter how old you are, local authorities owe you a legal duty to take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of hazards to pedestrians.
Slips and falls outside usually involve frozen surfaces or badly maintained pavements, such as uneven paving. If you’ve tripped or fallen while walking on the pavement, it’s likely the result of negligence. Explain to a specialist personal injury lawyer the details of what happened. They will ask you some questions and be able to determine whether the authority knew or ought to have known of the hazard and whether it should have taken action to minimise the risk presented to you and other pedestrians.
In most cases, it is not unreasonable to bring a claim when someone falls over trip hazards on the pavement. Claiming the compensation you deserve will lessen the burden of your injuries and help you get back to living a full life as soon as possible.
If you’ve not already done so, do see a doctor to be checked over and receive medical treatment if you need it. Your medical notes will be important for your claim.
It’s also important to gather as much information regarding your fall as soon as you’re able. This includes details of any witnesses to what happened, such as a close family member or friend or passer by; any photographs of the scene and your injury; and whether a log of the accident was entered at the business or place where it happened.
Your solicitor will talk you through any information they need, so you need not worry too much at this point. However, do tell your solicitor if the emergency services were called, because this will be important to build a strong case on your behalf.
It is not uncommon for the elderly to be unable to make legal claims because they do not have sufficient mental capacity. However, this does not mean they lose their right to make a claim – and family members should still pursue the chance of claiming compensation for an injured elderly relative – which is their right.
If they do not have mental capacity to make their own claim, they are known as a ‘protected party’. As a relative, you can apply to be what is called their ‘litigation friend’ – allowing you to seek compensation for them on their behalf. Your solicitor will do this for you – and their claim can still be undertaken on a no win no fee basis. Call for free no obligation advice on 0800 234 6438 or simply fill in the secure online form to arrange a call back.
Importantly, call our phone number on 0800 234 6438 if you have suffered injuries caused by a manual handling accident. We can help you claim maximum compensation by bringing a no win no fee claim under a conditional fee agreement with specialist solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
In November 2020, a 70-year-old fell out of a window at his care home because the window restrictors were found to be not fit for purpose. The care provider, Norse Care, pleaded guilty to putting people at risk of avoidable harm and was fined £100,000
A 75-year-old lady, who slipped on squashed grapes on the floor in Tesco in Greater Manchester and broke her leg, won a pay out of more than £27,000
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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