Falls are on of the biggest risks faced by hospitals and nursing home facilities. The reason is somewhat obvious – the people that frequent these places are most often either sick or elderly. Hospitals and nursing homes know falls are the biggest risk to their patients, and they implement strict fall risk guidelines to try to prevent them.
Unfortunately these guidelines are not always followed and some preventable falls do happen. If you believe a fall was preventable, and the hospital or nursing home is responsible, then you must make a claim and/or file a lawsuit within the proper statute of limitations.
Three Key Deadlines To Consider
- Government Facility: The first question to determine is whether the hospital or nursing facility is a private business or a government business. For example, did you fall at a county hospital or University of California hospital? If so, these are likely government hospitals. When you have a claim against a government business, the law makes you must follow a very strict protocol. It is best to consult with a lawyer when dealing with a government hospital, but in general, you will have six months from the date of your fall to make a proper government claim.
- Private Facility: If your fall occurred at a private healthcare facility then you will be bound by the California statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The standard statute of limitations is two years from the date of the fall. This means you must file a lawsuit within two years or law will prevent you from recovering any damages.
- Negligence vs. Medical Malpractice: One argument you will undoubtedly face is a claim from the facility that your fall should be considered medical malpractice rather than simple negligence. This is because California had limits on damages in medical malpractice cases, and because a medical malpractice claim must be brought within one year of the incident. If you file the lawsuit a year and a half after the incident, the defendant may try to have it thrown out of court. This argument can typically be defeated in a standard fall case, but in order to avoid the issue all together it is best to file the lawsuit within a year of the incident.
Falls in hospitals and nursing facilities are one of the most heavily litigated claims. Because of that, they are very complicated and difficult cases to prove and win. Making a claim or filing a lawsuit within the proper deadlines is just the first step in the process, but with this knowledge you should now be able to avoid any pitfalls in those deadlines and focus on how to prove your hospital or nursing home fall case.