Nursing homes provide a safe place for elderly loved ones to enjoy their retirement under the care of professionals. But sometimes, nursing homes are not always as safe as they should be. When accidents and injuries occur in nursing homes, who does the legal responsibility fall on? Since injuries can arise from several different factors, liability can fall on a number of individuals.
When is a Nursing Home Held Liable?
Nursing homes owe to their residents a strict duty of care, including proper food, shelter, medical assistance, and hygiene. Since in-house staff usually carry out these necessities, liability falls on the nursing home in several different instances.
- Negligent hiring or training of staff, resulting in neglect or abuse of a patient.
- Lacking of ample security, such as allowing a trespasser inside or allowing patients to attack each other.
- Failure to protect residents from safety hazards such as slip and falls, unsanitary conditions, or medical injuries.
- Negligence of resident medical needs. Nursing homes are expected to follow the medical standard of care under the circumstances.
Medical Standard of Care in Nursing Homes
Some nursing homes provide medical care for patients, but some do not. If a nursing home accepts Medicare, it is required to follow a Federal Regulation that defines the standard of care. This standard of care states that:
- The resident environment remains as free of accident-causing hazards as possible; and
- Each resident receives sufficient assistance and supervision so as to prevent accidents.
When a nursing home breaches these terms of care, they are able to be sued.
When Nursing Homes Are Not Liable
In certain instances, responsibility for injuries sustained by nursing home residents may fall on a third party. For instance, liability for injuries from medical equipment malfunctions may fall on an outside contractor, the equipment designer, or equipment manufacturer. These third parties may also share liability with the nursing home in certain scenarios. For example, in cases where a visitor or trespasser abuses a resident, the nursing home is liable for inadequately protecting its residents. However, if security provided to the home is an outside contractor, that company may be liable too.
If You Suspect Injury or Abuse in a Nursing Home:
Although some agencies protect the elderly from the potential threats of nursing homes, oftentimes the victims of abuse or injury end up dealing with the aftermath themselves. In some cases, a civil lawsuit may be necessary. For nursing home cases where the victim may be experiencing diminished mental capabilities, this can be quite difficult. However, often a victim will have granted a family member with POA (Power of Attorney), allowing them to make decisions on their behalf. Contact an attorney specializing in nursing home injury and abuse by email or by calling (800) 762-9300 to discuss your case in further detail. You can also simply fill out one of our case intake forms and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.