As people age, their chances of suffering a fall increase. A variety of factors – including balance and mobility issues, cognitive decline, vision problems and medications – make them more vulnerable to falls.
Moreover, when an older person falls, they’re more likely to suffer serious and even fatal injuries than someone younger. Despite the growing emphasis on senior health and wellness, the number of fatal falls is increasing. One researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts, “If deaths from falls continue to increase at the same rate, the U.S. can expect 59,000 older adults will die because of a fall in 2030.”
All of this means that if an older person trips or slips and falls due to a condition like a spill on a floor, an electrical cord that was secured properly or an icy walkway that wasn’t cleared after a winter snowstorm, they may need multiple surgeries and months of physical therapy. A brain injury caused by a fall can be fatal. Even serious fractures, like broken hips, can start a physical and mental health decline from which there may be no return.
Age shouldn’t affect a property owner’s liability for a dangerous condition
Older people are sometimes discouraged from taking legal action against a property owner for neglecting to remedy an unsafe condition. Property owners are quick to blame accidents on a victim’s age. Older victims often buy into that kind of thinking.
It’s critical to understand that a property owner (and potentially others) can be held liable for negligence regardless of a victim’s age or health. If you have recently been harmed due to a property owner’s actions or inactions, you’ll need to prove that:
- The property owner had a duty of care to those on the premises
- They breached that duty
- The breach caused harm
- That harm is compensable (for example, medical bills and caregiver costs)
For example, if a spill was left unattended for hours without being cleaned up or the area marked or roped off, anyone could have slipped in it. The fact that it was an elderly person who suffered catastrophic (and expensive) injuries or even died as a result doesn’t affect the owner’s liability.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious or fatal fall due to a dangerous property condition that could have been prevented, sound legal guidance can help you seek justice and compensation.