Attorney at Law

If you or somebody you love has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in order to recover compensation and receive justice. But who exactly can be held legally responsible for nursing home abuse, if anybody at all? 

In this article, we explore the issue of liability as it pertains to nursing home abuse and neglect.

What Is Liability?

Liability refers to any type of duty, obligation, debt, or responsibility. In most countries, individuals can be held legally liable for acts or failures to act that encroach on other people’s rights. In these cases, the liable individual or party is required to pay damages.

When seeking to hold a party legally responsible (or liable) to pay damages in a civil lawsuit, negligence is a key factor. Negligence is defined as a failure to behave in a way that a reasonable person would be expected to under a certain set of circumstances, ultimately resulting in a loss to another party. A person can be held legally responsible for an act of negligence that causes harm to another party. 

There are four components to negligence, including:

  • Duty of care - It must be proven that the negligent party owed a standard of reasonable care 
  • Breach of duty - The negligent party must be demonstrated to have failed to execute their duty of care
  • Causation - The breach of duty must be shown to have caused harm or loss
  • Damages - This refers to the loss and harm caused by the negligent party

To hold a party liable for nursing home injuries or abuse, you must be able to provide evidence that proves all four components of negligence.

Is an Individual Liable for Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse can occur at the hands of multiple individuals, including:

  • Nursing home medical staff
  • Nursing home management
  • Other residents in a nursing home
  • Nursing home visitors

In order for a party to be held legally liable for an injury in a civil lawsuit, you must be able to prove that they owed a duty of care to the nursing home resident. A nursing home staff member can be thought to owe the residents a duty of care because all medical professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. 

It can be a bit more complicated to prove that an unaffiliated individual such as a nursing home visitor owed a duty of care to the victim, but it is not impossible. Generally speaking, it is understood that all people owe a duty of care to others to avoid causing injury to them or their property. 

Is the Nursing Home Facility Liable?

Because of their nature as providers of extensive services, nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents to keep them safe and free from harm and meet their basic needs. This includes everything from providing food to caring for their medical needs and more. If a nursing home fails to meet this duty of care, it may be held liable for it. 

Types of abuse and injury that a nursing home can be held liable for include:

  • Hiring staff without performing adequate background checks
  • Failing to properly train staff
  • Failing to properly monitor staff
  • Providing inadequate security
  • Failing to provide for a resident’s daily needs such as food and water
  • Failing to address medical needs
  • Failing to provide a resident with the medication they need
  • Failing to protect from health and safety hazards
  • Imposing unreasonable physical restraint
  • Intentional abusive conduct by a staff member

If a lawyer can provide evidence proving that a nursing home’s failure to meet the duty of care directly led to a resident's injuries, the nursing home may be held legally liable and required to pay damages.

Can Somebody Else Be Liable?

It’s not only the nursing home itself that might be found liable for a nursing home resident’s injuries. 

If the resident was injured because of a faulty device or piece of medical equipment, the liable party may actually not be the nursing home but an outside contractor who improperly installed or maintained the equipment or a manufacturer or designer of the faulty equipment. 

Or if a resident suffered food poisoning, the liable party might be the vendor who supplied the food or the outside contractor who improperly prepared the food or failed to sanitize the kitchen. 

If a nursing home patient is injured as a result of a security breach and the nursing home contracts with an outside vendor for security services, that security contractor may be held liable. 

Getting Justice for Your Injuries

As you can see, personal injury law and legal liability can get rather complicated. If you are interested in potentially taking legal action regarding a nursing home abuse or injury case, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney who has worked on cases like yours in the past. They will be able to take a look at all of the facts of your particular case in order to determine which parties if any, may be able to be held legally liable.

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