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Nursing Home Abuse: Who is Responsible?


When a loved one suffers abuse at the hands of a caregiver, it's sometimes difficult determining exactly who bears legal responsibility. Recovering damages in elder abuse cases will require identifying who is liable for injuries suffered.

If that abuse occurs in a nursing home environment, the facility may be liable if the abuse can be tied to: negligent hiring, understaffed facility, deficient training, medication errors and any breaches of regulatory responsibilities.

Because of the broad scope of responsibilities (provision of food, shelter, sanitation and medical care), a nursing home facility owes a strict “duty of care” to its residents. In nearly every aspect of the resident's care, the nursing home or its staff plays a vital role.

The facility has a responsibility in hiring and training staff to meet these responsibilities in a way sufficient to ensure the health and well-being of its residents. It's also responsible for maintaining adequate staffing numbers sufficient to the needs of serving the full compliment of its residents at adequate levels to maintain proper care.

If it can be proven that a nursing home or facility failed in their responsibility at any juncture of the staffing process (hiring, training and scheduling), it may be held liable for all damages resulting from elder abuse committed on its site and/or at the hands of its staff.

If a nursing home resident suffers abuse at the hands of a contractor hired by the nursing home or facility (i.e. a security guard employed by a third-party agency), that party may also be considered responsible for the abuse or neglect in question.

However, not all injury suffered in a nursing home facility may be considered in the strictest sense abuse. In some cases, when all of the facts are considered, liability may be distributed over a variety of personal injury theories. Say, for instance, a resident is injured as a result of a fall while using a walking device. Under personal injury law, if the device malfunctioned, the manufacturer/distributor could be held liable for damages; the nursing home staff member may have improperly used or maintained the walker; an outside contractor may have improperly maintained the equipment.

So many complexities may cloud the issue of liability in these cases as there are simply many “moving parts” involved in the care and maintenance of a nursing home resident.

That is why it is very important that if you suspect a loved one is the victim of neglect or abuse, after alerting the proper local authorities, you contact an experienced personal injury attorney, who can help assess the facts and advocate for your loved one.

The attorneys of Panio Law Offices offer a wealth of experience in personal injury litigation and can help identify all parties responsible to win the largest possible damages for your case.

If you have questions about a possible case of elder abuse, call (708) 928-8680. We can help.

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