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I slipped and fell in a patient’s room while working as a travel nurse. Even though I am not one of their employees, is the hospital still liable?

Monday February 25, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

I slipped and fell in a patient’s room while working as a travel nurse. I have been out of work and receiving workers’ compensation benefits. The housekeeper had just mopped the floor, but no warning sign was placed. Because of the injury to my shoulder, I was in physical therapy for 10 weeks. Even though I am not one of their employees, is the hospital still liable?

Savannah



Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Savannah,

You did not indicate who the housekeeper was employed by — the hospital or the family. If he or she was placed there by the hospital, you might have a workers’ compensation claim against the hospital — in addition to the home care facility from which you worked and where you filed your initial claim. If, on the other hand, the family employed the housekeeper, it would be the family who would be responsible for a workers’ compensation claim (if the housekeeper were indeed an employee).

If the housekeeper was hired just for help occasionally, you may have a civil cause of action against the housekeeper for negligence. Remember that all persons are to act in a non-negligent manner and have a duty not to place someone in an unreasonable and foreseeable risk of harm.

Consult with a nurse attorney or attorney who can discuss all of these issues with you and outline a course of action for you, if one is possible.

Regards,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed