Winter can be a treacherous time of year here in Connecticut and throughout the Northeast for seniors. That’s true both outdoors on icy driveways, parking lots and sidewalks and inside stores and other public places where floors tend to be slippery from tracked-in snow and ice.
As people get older, their risk of falling typically increases due to a multitude of factors. These include mobility and balance issues, vision limitations, the effects of medications and slowed response (both mentally and physically) to potential hazards.
As our population ages, so do the number of serious and even fatal falls. According to one
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher, “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.”
Fractures can be particularly serious as people get older
Seniors who fall, even if it’s a “same-level” fall from a standing position to the floor are more likely to suffer serious and/or multiple fractures that can require surgery. Hip fractures, in particular, because of how much they affect a person’s mobility, can be the start of a serious downward mental and physical spiral if they stop going out and remain at home, largely sedentary and alone.
Property owners whose dangerous conditions and negligence around mitigating those conditions may say that none of those things are their problem. They might believe that they shouldn’t be liable for all of this expensive medical care if an elderly person fell and was injured. They might even argue that a potentially hazardous condition wouldn’t have caused a younger, more physically fit person to fall or at least not to suffer injuries.
The responsibilities of property owners
The fact is that property owners can be held liable for negligence (often called “premises liability”) regardless of who the victim is and what their expenses and damages are. To hold a property owner liable for negligence, you just need to show these four things:
- The property owner had a duty of care to anyone who was legally on the premises.
- The owner breached that duty of care.
- The breach caused harm to the plaintiff.
- That harm is compensable (meaning there are expenses and other damages).
If you or a loved one suffered a serious or fatal fall because of a dangerous property condition, having sound legal guidance can help you protect your right to fair compensation.