Wisconsin Premises Liability Law: Understanding What It Means
Premises liability is an important part of Wisconsin’s laws. It protects the public against unsafe locations causing potentially fatal accidents. Understanding the meaning of premises liability can be rather difficult, largely because every case is dramatically different and there are many factors contributing to each incident.
Put simply, premises liability laws require property owners to keep their location reasonably safe for visitors.
Premises liability lawsuits focus on proving a property owner failed to maintain a reasonably safe place and is more at fault for the injury than the person who was injured.
Generally, premises liability lawsuits follow a predictable path.
- First, the injured party claims their injury was caused because of the property owner’s negligence in maintaining a reasonably safe place.
- Then, the property owner responds with affirmative defenses claiming the injured party sustained injuries through their own fault.
- A jury will then compare the two claims and assign a percentage of responsibility to each party.
- If the property owner is found to be more than 50% responsible for the injury, they must pay damages to the injury party. If the owner is less than 50% responsible, no damages are paid.
The amount of damages paid by the owner is a percentage of the original claim equal to the percent at fault they were. For example, if you were suing for $1 million in total damages and the owner was found 90% at fault, you would be paid $900,000.
The hardest part in any premises liability case is proving the property owner was more than 50% responsible for the injury. Businesses, home owners and insurance companies are very quick to dismiss all premises liability claims by claiming the accident is completely the injured party’s fault. Victims of personal injuries caused by unsafe premises in Milwaukee, Waukesha and elsewhere in southeast Wisconsin turn to McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. for legal representation. Our attorneys do their due diligence to make sure your premises liability lawsuit secures you the compensation you deserve.
Falls and Hip Fractures Among the Elderly
Fractured hips immediately spring to the forefront of many discussions about slip and fall injuries. This is slightly misleading, as most falls do not result in a broken hip. At the same time, the vast majority of fractured hips result from slip and falls.
The most common cause of a broken hip is a falling sideways.
Unfortunately for those suffering from a broken hip, the pain and suffering of the bone fracture is often just the beginning. After the fall, many adults must live with severely limited mobility for the rest of their life. Approximately one-third of seniors living at home who suffer a hip fracture spend more than one year recovering in a nursing home. Of elders who sustain a fractured hip, 20% die less than a year after the event.
Even for those entering a nursing home, the future can be bleak. About 1,800 patients in nursing homes die every year from fall-related injuries. Society has a duty to take care of its oldest members, and preventing slip-and-fall accidents goes a long way to increasing the quality of life among seniors.
Slip and Fall Injuries in a Nursing Home
Not all slip and fall injuries take place because of icy conditions or objects carelessly left on the floor of a grocery store. Elderly patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other assisted living facilities require adequate supervision to avoid falling even on clean, dry surfaces. This is especially important given how easily and seriously senior citizens are injured by falling. Broken hips, brain damage and even death can result from a fall.
In most slip and fall cases, the first question people ask is what caused the fall. When you are notified your loved one fell at a nursing home, you should ask who was caring for your family member. Many nursing homes are understaffed and do not provide the supervision their patients require. This causes patients to undertake dangerous activities by themselves, resulting in a fall.
No matter what the nursing home staff says, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Remember, you placed your loved one in the nursing home to provide care they could not receive elsewhere. By failing to properly watch over their patient, the nursing home has broken this trust and is liable for damages. McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. provides free consultations to victims of nursing home negligence. You have nothing to lose by discussing the case with us. We’ll analyze the situation and let you know if your case has merit.
Slip and Falls: The Leading Cause of Injury for Seniors
Many people find it hard to understand exactly how dangerous a slip and fall can be for seniors. After all, toddlers and children fall over almost daily and rarely sustain injuries worse than a scrape or bruise. For the elderly, though, falls are extremely dangerous.
Falls account for five times as many hospitalizations among seniors as any other injury type.
Part of the reason for the serious risk falls pose to seniors is a higher rate of osteoporosis compared to the rest of the population. Osteoporosis makes bones weaker, resulting in more serious injuries from what were once trivial events. This susceptibility to bone breakage coupled with overall health degradation in the elderly makes falls much more dangerous for seniors than for other demographics.
Research shows a few differences in injuries sustained in a fall depending on the injured party’s gender. Older women receive more broken hips as a result of falling, while men are much more likely to die. Falls are the most common source of a brain injury, and roughly half of deaths caused by falls are linked to brain injuries.
Analyzing a Nursing Home Slip and Fall
Slip and falls in nursing homes are quite different from ones in the outside world. While “normal” slip and fall injuries are usually caused by something being present, like ice or water, slip and falls in nursing homes are caused by something not being present: adequate supervision. Looking at the situation surrounding a slip and fall, there are a few factors to take into account, including:
- How at risk is this specific person to falling?
- What is the facility’s plan to prevent falls for this specific person?
- Is the plan adequate?
- Is the plan actually being followed?
- Has the plan been reviewed or updated since being implemented?
Milwaukee’s experienced nursing home negligence lawyers at McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. provide the caring, attentive and aggressive representation you need. Even if this incident did not result in a serious injury, be aware the facility may not be providing adequate care and it’s only a matter of time before your elderly loved one suffers a broken hip, spinal injury or even death from a fall in a nursing home.
Fear of Falling: The Hidden Cost of Falls among Senior Citizens
Many discussions about the costs of senior falls focus solely on money. Tens of billions of dollars are spent every year treating older adults for injuries sustained from falls. Emergency room visits, pain killers, safety equipment and rehab costs add up very quickly. Unfortunately for injured seniors, the cost of a fall injury is much more than financial.
Up to a third of elderly fall victims develop a fear of falling.
Since an adult who falls once is likely to fall again, some seniors begin consciously limiting their activities. Their fear of repeatedly falling results in dramatic lifestyle changes. This can include missing or quitting work, falling behind on home maintenance and a less enjoyable life overall.
Paradoxically, fear of falling can increase the likelihood of a fall.
By failing to exercise and stay active, fearful seniors become weaker and less stable. This makes them more likely to fall when they do move, further their fear and possibly causing them to curtail activities even more. This decreased standard of living and cycle of fear and falling is far worse than the medical expenses related to falls.
Elevator Injuries among Seniors include Falls, Cuts, Entrapment and Amputations
Elevators can be found almost anywhere. In offices, hospitals and even at home, elevators help us get where we’re going quickly and safely. Especially for individuals with limited mobility and the elderly, elevators may be the only way to reach their destination.
Despite being considered a safe form of transportation, elevators are surprisingly dangerous for seniors.
Elevator related injuries send thousands of people to the hospital every year, many of them older adults. Poor lighting conditions, crowding and misalignments between the elevator and the floor cause many trip and fall injuries. Broken bones, bruises and cuts are often the result for the elderly.
Some seniors are injured by closing elevator doors and faulty safety equipment which cause amputation of fingers, arms or legs. Although rare, deaths caused by elevators are not unknown.
Less commonly, seniors can become trapped inside elevators, unable to exit. If this happens at a commercial location close to closing, the individual can remain inside for many hours, suffering from malnourishment and other problems.
Elevator manufacturers, maintenance companies and companies with elevators in their buildings have a duty to ensure their devices work properly and do not injure anybody.
Regardless of where the injury occurred, be it a nursing home, private residence or commercial building, victims of elevator related injuries should not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. We offer free consultations to all victims of personal injuries and no-win no-fee representation should we take the case.
Proving Premises Liability Negligence in Milwaukee
Wisconsin’s laws clearly state property owners have a duty to maintain a reasonably safe premises. Simply demonstrating a specific location was unsafe and an injury occurred there is not enough to win a premises liability case. Plaintiffs must prove the owner was negligent in their duty by proving two separate things.
1) The property owner must have been aware the premises was unsafe or should have been aware it wasn’t safe.
2) The property owner did not take reasonable measures to rectify the situation.
Failure to prove either of these leads to the case being decided against the plaintiff. The complex requirements and immunities surrounding premises liability law make proving negligence extremely complicated. Only an experienced premises liability lawyer will be able to prove your injury was caused by the negligence of a property owner. Let the personal injury attorneys at McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. review your case at a free consultation and determine if your injury was caused by provable negligence.
Different Kinds of Premises Liability Cases Exist
Most people think of premises liability as the classic slip and fall accident on an icy patch. While such an occurrence can lead to a legitimate case, premises liability is by no means limited to these kinds of personal injuries. Staircases with improperly spaced balusters allowing people or objects to fall through can result in premises liability lawsuits. Hotels failing to take precautions against bed bugs are another type of premises liability. Even bar fights can turn into premises liability cases. If you have been injured on another person’s property because of their negligence, contact a personal injury attorney immediately. The Milwaukee premises liability attorneys at McLario, Helm, Bertling, & Spiegel, S.C. provide free consultations for personal injuries to weigh the merits of a case. Do not believe insurance companies claiming it’s all your fault. Let an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate your premises liability case and let you know if it’s worth pursuing a claim.