Whether you’re visiting a loved one who’s battling an illness or undergoing extensive treatment, the last thing you want to worry about is a potential injury during your stay.
But, say you’re walking down a hallway at the end of visiting hours, or making your way to a restroom after an operation, and you trip because of a slick spot on the linoleum.
When you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a hospital, what options do you have if you need to seek compensation?
Determining who is responsible for an unexpected injury in a hospital can be complicated. Most often the hospital would be the first party to look at for recovery. However, there are potentially other parties who may be liable.
The personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group can help determine the responsible parties. We’ll help you break down what your next steps may be in determining negligence, but first we ought to define the difference between medical malpractice and premises liability.
Premises Liability in Hospitals
Hospitals have to keep an impeccable level of upkeep to ensure the safety of their patients, staff, and visitors. A lot of people move in and out of a hospital during any given day, and even the smallest hazard can compound into something genuinely dangerous for vulnerable patients.
Premises liability means the hospital is responsible for damages occurring to visitors on their property. If you are injured because of the hospital’s negligence — like if they knew about the spill on the floor, but didn’t put up warning signs or clean it up — then you could file a personal injury claim with the hospital’s insurance.
However, because you weren’t a patient of the hospital at the time, your injury would not be considered medical malpractice.
Now if you were walking down a hallway with “Wet Floor” signage plainly visible, and you slip and injure your back because of the spill, you’ll have a difficult time making any premises liability case. The facility gave you ample warning to the danger, and you assumed the risk of traversing over the wet spot anyway.
Slip and Falls as Medical Malpractice
An injury could be medical malpractice if it came about from negligence during medical treatment.
If your surgeon causes nerve damage during surgery, or if your physical therapist prescribed activities you weren’t ready to undertake, then you’re likely dealing with medical malpractice.
A slip and fall could be considered medical malpractice if it happened while the injured person was receiving treatment at the time. If you were a fall risk and no one helped you walk, or if your caregiver prescribed medications with dizziness as a side effect, you could file a medical malpractice claim.
Help from a Local Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all fall-downs are obviously medical malpractice or personal injury. Let’s say that you are using a chair lift at an outpatient center and the lift breaks. Is it medical malpractice or product liability?
What if the hallway where you are staying doesn’t have railings installed on the wall to aid patient maneuverability, and you fall and injure yourself. Would that be a medical malpractice case or premises liability case?
Or, let’s say the hospital releases you before you’ve completely recovered from your surgery, and you fall down and injure yourself in the parking lot. Since you were technically out of the hospital’s care, would that still count as medical malpractice?
Injuries involving hospitals are always tricky. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine how best to proceed with your individual case.
While you’re at the hospital, your first and only worry should be either for your recovery or the recovery of your loved ones. If you or someone you know has been injured at a hospital, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.