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Common examples of accidents which may cause personal injury to elderly persons in residential care homes

Care by residential care homes for elderly persons

Accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Personal injury claims vary immensely in nature and circumstances. When one person’s injury or death is solely or partly caused by the fault of another, the injured victim can take legal action to obtain compensation from the wrongdoer.

Accidents involving slipping and falling

An occupier of premises owes a duty to all his visitors to reasonably ensure that they will be safe when using the premises for the purposes for which they were invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.

The occurrence of a slip-and-fall accident in itself is not sufficient to give rise to a presumption of negligence on the part of the occupier. The burden of proof is on the injured person to show on a balance of probabilities that the slip-and-fall accident happened due to the negligence of the occupier(s).

An occupier does not have an absolute duty to ensure that the floor is clean and dry at all times. Occupiers cannot be expected to have members of staff permanently stationed at designated areas to watch for any spillage and to clean it up immediately. The law requires an occupier to set up a reasonable and proper system for cleaning the premises, to take reasonable care for the safety of visitors to the premises, and to take reasonable steps to ensure that the cleaning work is done properly. For example, keeping the floor dry at the entrance of a shopping centre on a rainy day is not practicable, but as long as the occupiers are reasonable in their attempts to keep the premises safe, then their duties are fulfilled: e.g. placing warning signs to warn visitors of slippery floors and deploying a staff member to mop the wet floor regularly (obviously, this depends on the reasonableness and facts of the case).

Negligence in the provision of care to elderly persons

In a general sense, people are negligent when they fail to exercise the care which the circumstances demand. What amounts to negligence depends on the facts of each particular case. It may involve omitting doing something that ought to have been done, or in doing something which ought to have been done either in a different manner or not at all.

Residential care homes owe a duty of care to their elderly residents to exercise reasonable care to look after their needs. Care must be taken to avoid acts of omission that could be reasonably foreseen to be likely to cause physical injury to elderly persons or their property.

However, the occurrence of an accident in itself is not sufficient to give rise to a presumption of negligence on the part of a residential care home. The burden of proof is on the injured elderly persons to show on a balance of probabilities that the accident was caused by the fault of the residential care home or its employees. The burden-of-proof liability for a personal injury claim may be based on a number of causes of action, including negligence, trespass on a person (such as a physical attack), breach of a statutory duty, or breach of a contractual duty. Elderly persons can also claim monetary compensation against persons who deliberately injure them. However, if an accident does not involve someone’s fault or negligence, then there is no cause for action under personal injury proceedings.

Assault by other residents at residential care homes

The tort of trespass can be established if the injured victim can show that the defendant’s act of assault was done intentionally or negligently.

In all cases, it is advisable to consult solicitors who are experienced in dealing with accident compensation claims, and they will advise whether your intended claims are meritorious. Your solicitors will also handle all legal procedures involved in the personal injury proceedings for you.