California Brain Injury Lawyers Representing the Elderly
There is no question that we all want a society where the elderly can live safe, healthy and autonomous lives. Falls threaten the health, mobility and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient.
If they suffer catastrophic or debilitating head injuries as the result of a fall, victims and their families may suffer significant financial consequences.
The experienced California brain injury lawyers at Bisnar Chase have represented numerous injured clients over the last three decades including children with brain injuries and the elderly.
Brain Injury to the Elderly
It is a well-established fact that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to falls. As we age, health conditions, physical changes and the medications we take can make us more prone to taking a fall. Older people are particularly at risk for suffering traumatic brain injuries when they fall.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, more than 80,000 elderly persons aged 65 and older require emergency treatment each year for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Adults aged 75 or older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and deaths. Through proper supervision and support, the number of brain injuries suffered by the elderly can be significantly reduced.
How Common are Brain Injuries Among the Elderly?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 75 and older are in an age group, which is at the greatest risk for traumatic brain injuries. Approximately 22 percent of all TBI-related hospitalizations involve elderly adults aged 75 years and older.
The rate of fall-related TBI hospitalization increases with age. For example, the rate of fall-related brain injuries for persons aged 85 or older is two-fold compared to those 75 to 84 years of age and up to six times than that of those aged 65 to 74. The CDC reports that 61 percent of all TBIs among adults aged 65 and older result from fall-related accidents. In fact, falls are the leading cause of TBI for all age groups followed by motor vehicle accidents.
Brain Injury Prevention
There are a number of steps that can be taken by the elderly, their care providers and their loved ones to prevent these tragic brain injuries from occurring.
Reviewing medications: Elderly patients would be well advised to discuss the medications they are taking with their health provider. They need to know how the medications affect their balance and coordination. For example, many eye and ear disorders increase the risk of falling. It is also advisable to keep active and to wear shoes that provide adequate grip and support.
Safety at care facilities: Nursing homes are responsible for the care of their residents. This legal obligation includes preventing fall-related accidents. Nursing homes must make sure that they supervise residents who have medical conditions that make them prone to falls. Care facilities should provide railings in hallways, in private rooms and most importantly in shower areas and bathrooms where the elderly are likely to slip and fall. When a resident does fall, nursing homes have a responsibility to ensure that prompt medical attention and treatment is provided.
Impaired vision: Vision problems can increase the risk of falling among the elderly. Cataracts and glaucoma alter older people's depth perception, visual acuity, peripheral vision and susceptibility to glare. Older individuals would be well advised to have regular eye checkups to discern the extent of age-related eye diseases. Eyeglasses should also be cleaned often to improve visibility.
Environmental hazards: At least one-third of all falls among the elderly involve environmental hazards in the home. The most common hazard for falls is tripping over objects on the floor. Other environmental hazards include poor lighting, loose rugs, lack of grab bars and unstable furniture. These types of accidents can be prevented by conducting a walk-through of the home to identify possible problems that may lead to falls. An interior designer or an occupational therapist may also be able to help identify risk factors and recommend appropriate actions and adjustments.
Pursuing Compensation Following a Brain Injury
Depending on the cause of the brain injury, financial compensation may be available for the victim's medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. In order to successfully pursue financial compensation for a brain injury, the victim or the victim's family must prove that negligence was a contributing factor in the accident.
Property owners and nursing home facilities cannot be expected to prevent all fall-related accidents. They can, however, be held liable for the accidents that result from their negligence or lack of care. Here are a number of questions that a skilled California brain injury lawyer will ask:
- Did the fall-related accident result from a hazardous condition?
- Were there warning signs placed around the dangerous location or did the property manager fail to properly warn visitors and residents?
- Did lack of proper supervision lead to the accident?
- Was proper medical attention provided right away?
- Did the victim suffer additional harm from a lack of adequate care, diagnosis or treatment?
These are some of the important questions that must be asked following an accident that results in brain injury. Even if the elderly person has suffered only a contusion or concussion, he or she should get immediate medical attention and treatment. Failure to treat the injury promptly could make it worse.
The Value of the Claim
A traumatic brain injury can potentially result in millions of dollars in medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. Even elderly victims with adequate health care coverage can struggle with these expenses after suffering a devastating head injury. If the negligence of a care provider, worker, car driver, property owner or medical professional contributed to the accident, financial compensation may be available.
Call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys today for a free case review to find out what your options are.