Reckless and Preventable Wheelchair Accidents in a Missouri Nursing Home

Understanding Wheelchair Accidents in a Missouri Nursing Home: Our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Shares What You Need to Know NOW

The use of a wheelchair or other mobility assistance equipment is very common in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.  According to the CDC, one in four adults have a disability that impacts their daily life, the most common disability is a mobility disability, and adults over the age of 65 constitute 40% of these individuals.  While wheelchairs are a necessity in a nursing home and generally considered to be very safe, our St. Louis nursing home abuse attorney knows that wheelchair accidents in a Missouri nursing home could result very debilitating and catastrophic personal injuries from broken bones, to head injuries to wrongful death.  Wheelchair accidents can occur even when a nursing home staff member is assisting a resident or assisting  a resident to stand up, get into bed, or transporting the resident in a vehicle.  When an employee is not aware of the residents needs or is not paying attention to providing the resident with the care he or she needs, a resident could fall to the ground, get tangled in the wheelchair, or trip and fall.  This is particularly dangerous when a resident hits his or her head on one of these objects.

There are many possible injuries from a wheelchair accident.  Common injuries from wheelchair accidents include the following:

  • Broken bones, including legs, hips, and arms;
  • Herniated discs, annular tears, bulging discs, and other back injuries;
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, coup-contrecoup, diffuse axonal, and related  head injuries;
  • Significant lacerations;
  • Orbital blowout fractures;
  • Nerve injuries;
  • Torn ligaments or a torn meniscus in the knee;
  • Rotator cuff tears;
  • Achilles heel injuries, and 
  • Other serious injuries.

Causes of Wheelchair Accident in a Missouri Nursing Home 

There are many possible causes of a wheelchair accident in Missouri.  While some wheelchair accidents could be caused by a resident’s improper use or own mishaps, many times even in these situations the failure of a nursing home to properly assist and supervise a resident could be a proximate cause of the resident’s wheelchair accident.  These means that the nursing home could be liable for mistakes that are solely attributed to the resident’s own mistake because in many instances residents are unable to understand their actions or if their actions place themselves in dangerous situations. Some of the most common causes of wheelchair accidents include the following:

  • Failure to use brakes – this is the most basic mistake that nursing home staff who are rushing or inexperienced will make.  It can lead to serious personal injuries because a resident trying to stand up could fall backwards and hit his or her head on the ground.Whenever a caregiver is assisting a resident to get up from a wheelchair and an accident occurs because of the lack of use of a brake, the caregiver is likely at fault and may be negligent.
  • Improperly assisting patients standing up or sitting down – even if a wheelchair’s brakes are properly engaged, a nursing home staff member still needs to assist the resident by helping him or her stand up safely and with support.  This is because a resident in a wheelchair is usually classified as a “fall risk,” meaning that transitions from sitting to standing and any walking needs to be closely monitored and guarded.  The failure to do this could result in liability for the Missouri nursing home.
  • Vehicle transports, including loading and unloading – more and more vehicles are being modified to be able to hold residents in wheelchairs.  This creates less stress on residents and prevents other dangers when a residents gets in or out of a vehicle.  But it creates new risks, such as issues with loading and unloading a wheelchair up and down a ramp.  Residents in wheelchairs also need to be properly secured in the vehicle, as even minor braking could result in a resident being thrown about the inside of the vehicle and sustain serious injury.
  • Improper supervision – A resident in a wheelchair is likely a resident who is deemed mobility impaired and a fall risk.  If a nursing home allows this resident to freely use the wheelchair without proper supervision, it could result in very serious but preventable accidents.  The failure to properly monitor and supervise a resident in any type of mobility device, especially a wheelchair, could result in liability for the nursing homes if reckless, careless, and negligently caused injuries occur.

Injured in a Wheelchair Accident?  Our St. Louis Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer may be able to Help You

While a wheelchair accident may not sound like a big deal, it could cause a great deal of pain and serious injuries to a resident of a nursing home.  This is particularly true of residents who are older, frailer, or recovering or rehabbing from surgery.  Injuries including broken bones, brain injuries, and even wrongful death are possible in a wheelchair accident.  Most of these accidents are completely avoidable too with the proper care, treatment, and supervision from a nursing home.  Here at the Terry Law Firm, our St. Louis nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer has handled many serious cases of nursing home negligence, abuse, and neglect against residents.  Call us by dialing (314) 334-1439 for a FREE consultation to learn whether you or your loved one have may rights for injuries caused by a wheelchair accident in a Missouri nursing home.