Nursing homes and elder care facilities may face a lawsuit if a resident was hurt on their premises, but what about if a resident wanders off and is injured off of the premises? Under certain circumstances, a nursing home may be held liable for injuries sustained when a resident has left the property.
If your loved one was hurt as a result of negligence from the elder care facility in which they reside, a nursing home abuse lawyer can help. Depending on the scenario, liability may fall on the facility that is supposed to be taking care of and protecting your loved one.
Continue reading for more information regarding when a nursing is and is not liable for a resident’s injuries.
General Duty of Due Care
In cases where negligence may apply, the defendant (in this case, the elder care facility) owes the plaintiff (the resident and their family) the general duty of due care. This is the legal duty to act in a way so that injury is avoided. In other words, a nursing home must take all necessary precautions to ensure a resident’s safety and protection from foreseeable or predictable harm.
When a nursing home fails to fulfill this duty and a resident is injured, then the facility may be held liable for negligence.
Notice of the Resident’s Likelihood to Wander
In these scenarios, an elder care facility can only be found negligent if it was on notice that a resident might possibly wander. Therefore, in wandering cases, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the facility knew or should have known that the resident might wander.
Conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, senility, an organic brain ailment or others are reasonable proof of a resident’s potential to wander. Or, if there was any display of a tendency to wander in the past, this can be used to prove that the facility acted negligently.
In cases where the incident was completely unpredictable, the nursing home may avoid liability.
Injuries Sustained During a Wandering Episode
A resident can sustain varying degrees of injury if they wander from their nursing home. A resident may completely disappear, pass away or become physically hurt during a wandering episode. Additionally, prolonged exposure to the elements (even if it doesn’t result in permanent injury) and emotional distress can be reason enough to sue for negligence.
When Nursing Homes Are Liable for Wandering Residents
If an elder care facility fails to perform periodic assessments or properly evaluate a resident when they initially move in, it can be held liable for its failure to be informed of a resident’s potential to wander.
Additionally, liability may be determined if the facility’s staff are not properly trained to detect possible signs of wandering, to monitor a resident who wanders or to prevent wandering.
Even in circumstances where staff and management are deemed competent and properly trained, a nursing home can be held liable for their failure to perform their duties. Leaving a resident who might wander unattended, failing to monitor a resident or the absence of any precautionary measures or protocol can all lead to liability.
If you believe your loved one’s nursing home should be held responsible for injuries sustained while off of the premises, please contact a nursing home abuse lawyer from Stewart Bell, PLLC. We specialize in this area of law and will work hard to bring you and your loved one justice.