A nursing home has a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent injury to its patients. Reasonable care is determined in light of the patient's physical or mental condition. The duty is limited to known or foreseeable consequences of the patient's impairment, including reasonable precautions to protect those unable to protect themselves.
However, a nursing home is not an insurer of a patient's safety and is not required to have someone follow the patient at all times. Additionally, these duties may be modified by contract or by statute.
Common Nursing Home Injuries
Falls are the most common type of injury that gives rise to nursing home liability. If the patient is attended, the nursing home is almost never held liable. However, when the patient is unattended and there is some condition which makes it foreseeable that the patient could fall, the nursing home has been held liable. For example, a bedridden woman was injured when she fell out of bed. The nursing home was found liable because they failed to raise the side rails on the bed.
Nursing homes may be found liable for burns suffered by patients. For example, a semi-paralyzed patient whose bed was placed next to a radiator recovered for burns she suffered because of the nursing home's negligence. However, a nursing home was found not liable when a man was injured when he accidently set his clothes on fire while trying to light his pipe.
Bed sores are a common injury in nursing homes and sometimes the nursing home may be liable. A bedridden woman who had to be turned every two hours because she had no control over her bowels or bladder was able to recover for bed sores against the nursing home for failing to take proper care of her.
A nursing home may be liable for a patient wandering away if it is know that the patient has a propensity to wander. A nursing home which sent an elderly, senile patient to a hospital for treatment without giving the hospital instructions for his special supervision was held liable when the patient, while at the hospital, wandered off and went missing for several days.
Assault By Fellow Patients
Nursing homes may be liable for injuries from assault by fellow patients. For example, a nursing home was liable for failing to exercise ordinary care to protect a patient from assault and injury by an intoxicated fellow patient. The fellow patient had a history of being drunk and argumentative, often provoking fights.
Nursing homes have a duty to provide reasonable care to their patients, even if the duty isn't absolute. Nursing homes must provide basic care for the patients, including food, clothing, and shelter. Failure to provide these basic necessities may constitute long-term care abuse.
Should I Contact An Attorney About Nursing Home Liability?
If you or someone you know has been injured in a nursing home, the home may be responsible. You should contact an experienced family law attorney immediately who can explain the law and help you recover for your injuries.