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St. Louis Medical Malpractice: Hospital Falls


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9/4/2015
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St. Louis Medical Malpractice: Hospital Falls

 

At least a million slip and fall accidents occur in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When a customer is injured in a slip and fall accident that occurs in a public establishment such as a grocery store, the establishment is particularly vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit because of its special responsibility to its invitees. St. Louis is governed by Missouri personal injury law, which does not excuse hospitals from this special liability.

 

Causes of Hospital Slip and Fall Accidents

 

In general, slip and fall accidents occur for a variety of reasons including wet floors, steep staircases, carelessly placed equipment , improper removal of snow and ice, or rough patches of ground. Certain types of slip and fall accidents are more likely to occur at hospitals, however, including:

 
  • Inadequate supervision or restraint of mentally or physically impaired patients
     

  • Carelessly placed bed-call light cords
     

  • Failure to use slip-resistant footwear
     

  • Inadequate lighting in walkways
     

  • Rooms and corridors cluttered with furniture and medical equipment
     

  • Defective staircase railings

 

Duty of Care

 

Your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit against a St. Louis hospital depend partly on the hospital’s relationship to you at the time of the accident as well as the specific facts of your case. A hospital owes its highest duty of care to its patients and a somewhat lower duty of care to visitors and employees.

 

How to Win a Hospital Slip and Fall Case in Missouri

 

To win a hospital slip and fall case against a St. Louis hospital, you need to prove that the hospital breached a duty of care that it owed to you, and that this breach caused you damages. To avoid liability, the hospital only needs to show that it exercised “reasonable care”, not that no dangerous conditions existed at all. If you slipped on a floor that had been wet only five seconds before you slipped, for example, the hospital might be able to successfully argue that it lacked reasonable time to clean the floor before you slipped and fell.
 

More specifically, to win you will have to show that your accident was caused by a dangerous condition at the hospital, which condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of a slip and fall accident, and that a hospital employee either performed a wrongful act that led to your accident or failed to perform an act that would have prevented the accident (such as promptly mopping a wet floor).

 

Damages

 

Three types of damages are available under Missouri personal injury law—special damages, general damages and punitive damages. Special damages compensate you for medical bills, lost work time and other tangible losses. General damages compensate you for intangible losses such as emotional distress. Finally, punitive damages (rarely awarded) are designed to punish a defendant for particularly outrageous conduct.

 

Regardless of whether your personal injury case is settled in or out of court, it is likely that the biggest challenge of the case will be assembling admissible evidence to prove your damages. This is critical, because even a victory will be practically useless if you receive only a paltry sum. Plaintiffs often neglect the task of exhaustively documenting anticipate future medical needs, especially in the case of lifelong injuries.


In Missouri, a personal injury lawsuit is no walk in the park. Winning in court or at the settlement table requires significant expertise, strong commitment and patient persistence. Alvin Wolff has successfully handled a multitude of St. Louis personal injury cases for his many satisfied clients. Call 314-241-2500 today for a free initial consultation.  

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