Who Is Legally Responsible for Nursing Home Abuse?
For some, residing in a nursing home has many advantages. A resident’s health issues are under constant surveillance, making it much easier to ensure the proper treatment and/or medication are taken. Additionally, the resident does not have to concern himself/herself about how to address his/her daily needs. Thus, at least with regard to some issues, the resident does not have to worry. However, residency at a nursing home, unfortunately, is not without problems. Although not common, abuse of nursing home residents does occur, and, if it does, retaining the services of an experienced Miami nursing home abuse attorney is essential to ensure that the abuse does not go unpunished, and that any cost associated with the abuse is recovered. Recently, a Melbourne woman was recently arrested for sexually molesting a male nursing home resident, illustrating the extent to which some individuals will exploit the vulnerability of nursing home residents.
Nursing Home Abuse
While it does have a criminal element, the civil tort of nursing home abuse falls under the general legal theory of negligence. To successfully bring a negligence action against an individual who caused harm to a nursing home resident, the resident must prove each of the following elements:
- First, that the nursing home had a duty of care to keep the resident reasonably safe from harm;
- Second, that the nursing home failed in maintaining this standard of care;
- Third, that, as a result of this failure, the resident suffered harm; and
- Fourth, that the harm can be quantified as damages.
Additionally, in an effort to curb an excess of nursing home litigation, Florida law requires that each potential defendant in a nursing home abuse matter be given an opportunity to address each claim, and be given the chance to make a settlement offer, prior to the filing of any lawsuit.
Potentially Responsible Parties
Obviously, the first party that should be held responsible is the person who committed the abuse on the nursing home resident. This person should always be included in any action for nursing home abuse. However, this person may not be the only responsible party.
In the majority of cases, nursing home abuse will render the company that runs the nursing home liable for any injuries as a result of the abuse. This is because of the legal maxim that an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees, and, in most cases, nursing home abuse occurs through the actions (or in some cases, inactions) of a nursing home employee. Specifically, the company can be held liable for any of the following actions:
Negligent hiring practices, such as failing to conduct an appropriate background check of each employee and/or hiring individuals with a history of abuse;
Improper training of staff, or failing to monitor the staff, which includes taking disciplinary actions against staff who act inappropriately;
Failure to provide necessary services to residents, including food, water, shelter, and appropriate medical care, such as accurate administration of medication; and
In general, allowing unsafe or hazardous conditions to exist.
Additionally, the failure of the nursing home to provide adequate security measures, allowing a third party (i.e., non-employee) an opportunity to abuse a nursing home resident, may also subject the nursing home to liability for the abuse suffered by the resident.
Seek Legal Advice
If someone you love was abused while a resident in a nursing home, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have years of experience in personal injury matters, including nursing home abuse, and will use this to your advantage. If, after analyzing your case, we believe that a cause of action for abuse may exist against any other party, we will commit all of our resources to ensure that you receive just compensation for the abuse. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.