• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: December 2014

Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities rely on doctors, nurses, staff members, and volunteers for care and companionship. Sadly, nursing home residents are often victimized, mistreated, or abused by the very people trusted to protect their well-being. A study by the National Center on Elder Abuse found that more than 40 percent of nursing home residents reported being abused.

If your loved one has been abused in a nursing home setting, you may be considering the possibility of a filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit. But it isn’t always easy to know who is legally responsible for nursing home abuse. This post will discuss who might be liable for your loved one’s nursing home injuries and abuse. If you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit, contact an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer right away.

Is the Nursing Home Responsible for Injuries and Abuse?

Under the law, nursing homes owe a very strict duty of care to their residents. This means that nursing home staff members must exercise a high degree of watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence in dealing with and caring for their residents. If a staff member does not meet the high standard of care, the nursing home may be liable to the resident for negligence.

Generally, nursing homes can be held responsible in court for:

  • negligent training of staff members,
  • negligent hiring of staff members, including failure to perform adequate background checks,
  • failure to properly monitor staff members,
  • failure to provide adequate security,
  • failure to provide for the daily necessities of residents, such as food and water,
  • failure to provide proper medical care, such as neglecting to administer necessary medication,
  • failure to protect from health and safety hazards,
  • imposition of unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints, and
  • intentional abuse by staff members.

If it can be shown that your loved one’s nursing home was negligent, and that its negligence played a role in your loved one’s injuries or abuse, then the nursing home may be found liable for all resulting damages. Damages in a nursing home abuse lawsuit may include compensation for pain and suffering, medical treatment, and more.

Are Third Parties Responsible for Nursing Home Injuries and Abuse?

In most cases of nursing home injury or abuse, the nursing home is at least partially legally responsible for its resident’s injuries. But there may be other parties who are legally responsible, or liable, for those injuries.

For example, if your loved one suffered a bone fracture in a nursing home, you might assume that a nursing home staff member either intentionally or negligently caused the injury. However, there may be another cause. Your loved one could have been injured by a defective piece of a equipment such as a gurney or wheelchair. In such a situation, there could be multiple parties legally responsible for your loved one’s injuries:

  • a staff member in the nursing home may have improperly used the equipment,
  • an outside contractor may have improperly maintained the equipment,
  • the wheelchair or gurney may have been improperly manufactured, or
  • the wheelchair or gurney may have been improperly designed.

There are other situations where a third party might be held liable for your loved one’s injuries. If your loved one contracted food poisoning in a nursing home, a third-party food vendor may be found liable for his or her injuries. A transportation company could also be found liable for negligently transporting your loved one to or from a hospital or other outside facility.

Image courtesy of Flickr user illinoislibrary pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

About the Author

Hank Stout is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank earned his doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2004. He was recognized by SuperLawyers as a Rising Star from 2012-2014. He has earned a Superb rating by Avvo, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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