Wrongful Death: Assisted Living Facility Negligence

Nursing home negligence is a huge concern because of the impact it has on families. In one such case, we represented a local family whose 94-year-old mother resided in an assisted living facility. She had developed post-polio syndrome as a young adult but her condition did not prevent her from raising two children as a single mother and financially supporting herself and her family. She was well-regarded in the community and appreciated for her grace and kindness. As she got older, her weakened limbs made her more at risk for falls and fall injuries, so she moved into an assisted living facility for her comfort and safety. Even without post-polio syndrome in the equation, most fractures in older adults are caused by falls, which are the leading cause of accidental death in people over the age of 65, according to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As people age, the risk substantially increases: the rate of fall injuries for adults 85 and older is almost four times that for adults 65 to 74.

The assisted living facility knew that she was at a high risk of falls and given its line of business, should have understood the risks of falling for someone of her age. More specifically, the assisted living center had a written care plan for her that required the facility to provide assistance to her when transferring and toileting. One day, when facility staff began to transfer her, she began to fall. One of the aides had just returned from hernia surgery and was not able to hold her. The resident fell hard, thudding as she landed and breaking her femur. Facility staff claimed to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) investigator that she was lowered gently to the ground, but the fall had been seen by an independent observer who saw how hard the fall was.

She did not recover her mobility after the fall but instead remained in bed, first in the hospital and then in a skilled nursing facility. She died two and a half months later. The case settled for a confidential sum.