Is the Nursing Home Responsible for Injuries Caused by Other Residents?
Many individuals living in nursing homes are among the most vulnerable members of our population, due to age-related infirmities and illness, which makes guarding their health and safety an important societal goal. A lot of trust, faith and responsibility are placed on those working in and operating these facilities, including an obligation to protect residents from each other. While an injury inflicted by another resident would not be considered nursing home abuse since an employee or administer did not cause it, the facility could still be responsible for what happened under the legal theory of negligence for the personal injury. A nursing home in Jacksonville may be facing this situation after a resident died from injuries received during an attack by another resident with dementia. The victim took several weeks to die from the injuries and the nursing home did not disclose whether the attacker had a history of violence or there were any procedures in place designed to avoid altercations among residents.
Duty of Care
When a nursing home accepts a new resident into its facility, it assumes a certain level responsibility for the health and safety of this individual, including an obligation to protect the person against injury from others. This responsibility is known as a “duty of care” in the law, and if a home fails to provide this safe and healthy environment, it can be liable for any injuries. Basically, a person claiming the nursing home was negligent would need to show that the nursing home breached its duty of care by carelessly performing or completely failing to perform an expected duty. In the case of injury caused by another resident, it is reasonable to contemplate a nursing home facility would monitor residents for signs of aggression and have procedures in place to prevent violent incidents. Additionally, it would be reasonable to expect the nursing home to have a plan to place to rapidly respond to aggressive behavior in order to limit the extent of any injury.
Factors Showing Liability
With resident violence, it is necessary to look at whether the nursing home knew or had reason to know if the aggressor had a history of violent behavior or could unexpectedly become violent. Both residents in the article mentioned above had dementia, which is known to cause violent episodes as it progresses. Further, Florida law requires staff caring for residents with Alzheimer’s or a related disease, of which dementia would be one, to undergo additional training on managing problem behaviors. Consequently, if a nursing home had a patient with dementia, they should provide additional monitoring, make sure the staff is properly trained, and perhaps limit access to other residents, depending on the severity of violent tendencies. If the facility was careless or failed in any of these areas, an argument for negligent liability could be made.
Plaintiffs alleging negligence by a nursing home have the burden of proof in court to prove their claims. This means the plaintiff must present evidence and witness testimony that demonstrates the nursing home breached its standard of care. This evidence can come from things like police reports, medical records, internal incident reports and expert testimony. The assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer is essential to identifying and collecting the best and most relevant evidence to win your case.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Anytime a loved one living in a nursing home is injured, the family is left devastated and feels like a violation of trust occurred. These results are no different if the injury came from another resident and the nursing home could have prevented it. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado represents clients in a wide variety of personal injury negligence cases, and we are available to assist you. Contact us for a free consultation.