Hospitals are meant to be safe places for patients to receive the medical treatment that they need to heal and recover from injuries and illnesses. Hospitals should provide not only quality medical care but also safe and protected environments for patients and visitors. If a hospital has fallen into a state of disrepair, this can pose health and safety risks to those inside. This includes the risk of a slip and fall accident. Even with a safe premises, however, a patient could suffer a slip and fall accident due to medical malpractice.
Is a Slip and Fall at a Hospital a Medical Malpractice Claim or Premises Liability Lawsuit?
When an injury of any kind takes place inside of a hospital, you may assume the rules of medical malpractice apply. However, this is not always the case. When determining what type of claim to file, first look at whether you were a patient of the hospital at the time of the accident. If you were simply visiting a loved one when you slipped and fell, you do not have a medical malpractice claim. Similarly, if you were working in a hospital at the time of your accident, you would have a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim, not a medical malpractice lawsuit.
You may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim after a slip and fall in a hospital, however, if you were a patient and you fell because of an error made by your doctor or another health care provider. For instance, if your doctor made a medication mistake that made you dizzy and caused your fall, this could give you the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The same is true of misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, treatment mistake, failure to treat, premature discharge or if your doctor failed to follow protocol. You may need a personal injury attorney to investigate your case to determine the correct type of claim to file.
What Are the Elements of a Premises Liability Claim Against a Hospital?
If the circumstances of your slip and fall meet the parameters of a premises liability claim rather than medical malpractice, your lawyer will need to prove with at least a 51 percent certainty that the hospital or health care center caused your accident due to negligent property maintenance. Slip and fall cases can be difficult to win, especially against powerful institutions such as hospitals. You or your lawyer must show clear and convincing evidence of the following elements:
- A slip and fall hazard existed on the property.
- The property owner knew or had constructive knowledge of the hazard.
- The property owner failed to address or remedy the hazard in a timely manner.
- You were allowed on the property at the time of the fall (you weren’t trespassing).
- The property hazard caused or significantly contributed to your injuries.
- You suffered compensable losses in the slip and fall accident.
The hospital or one of its employees must be guilty of negligence in the care or maintenance of the premises for this type of claim. If a reasonable and prudent property owner would have prevented your hospital slip and fall, for example, you may be eligible for financial compensation. If you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, the elements of proof are different. You must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed and that your doctor failed to meet the medical standards of care in treating you, resulting in your slip and fall accident.
How Can a Lawyer Help You?
If you suffered an injury such as a broken bone, concussion, pulled muscle or dislocation in a slip and fall accident in a hospital in West Virginia, contact a lawyer for assistance right away. A lawyer can return to the scene of your slip and fall accident, search for evidence of medical malpractice or property owner negligence, determine what type of claim is most appropriate, and make sure that you have everything you need to recover and move forward after a traumatic accident. Call us today for a free consultation at Manchin Injury Law Group.