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Normally we think of hospitals as places people go to get well. Every now and then, though, we can come out in worse shape than we went in.
Considering the foot traffic, liquid supplies, and (ick) bodily fluids present in the halls, rooms and just about everywhere else, it's a wonder that there aren't more slip-and-fall injuries in hospitals.
But if you fall in a hospital, could the hospital be legally responsible?
Unless you're a patient at the hospital or your fall occurred during or as part of your treatment, medical malpractice will probably not apply. Actions under medical malpractice apply to injuries sustained while receiving medical care, like a flawed diagnosis, a mistake in treatment, or treatment without a patient's legal consent.
So a visitor to the hospital who slips on a spilled drink in the cafeteria won't have a claim for medical malpractice. However, if a doctor asked you to walk down the hall as part of your rehab, but you are over-medicated and fall, you may have a malpractice claim.
Safe Premises for Patients and Others
As general matter, premises liability means that all property owners can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property. Hospitals, like any other business, must take reasonable steps to assure the safety of the premises, meaning they must make regular inspections of hospital facilities for any defects or potential dangers.
Each slip and fall case is different, and proving fault in a slip and fault accident will largely come down to what the property owner knew regarding the danger and the actions, if any, they took to keep visitors safe. So you may have a valid premises liability claim if the hospital's staff should have known about a potential injury risk and failed to take any action.
Falls from Bed
Many of the falls that occur in hospitals happen when patients are getting in and out of hospital beds. Hospitals and their staff are required to provide a standard of care to patients equal to what a prudent professional with the same training and experience would provide in the same or similar circumstances. So if a hospital did not provide a patient with needed restraints, or one-on-one nurse supervision to prevent a fall when another hospital would have, the hospital could be liable.
An experienced personal injury attorney near you will be able to assess your claim if you've fallen and been injured in a hospital.