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When Can You Sue for Negligence at a Nursing Home?

Posted in Nursing Home Abuse on April 1, 2018

Several situations can result in lawsuits against nursing homes for resident injury, illness, or wrongful death. You might have grounds to sue, or file a lawsuit against, a Baltimore nursing home if a few elements exist. If the elder care facility owed you or a loved one a duty of care, breached this duty, and caused harm to someone else, it could be guilty of negligence. Learn about your rights to sue with help from an attorney.

What Is Negligence?

Almost all civil lawsuits come down to the legal theory of negligence. “Negligence” is any action or failure to act that falls outside of the defendant’s duties of care to the plaintiff. In terms of nursing home lawsuits, negligence can refer to any breach of duty of care to residents. Federal law requires nursing homes and similar facilities to care for the wellbeing of elders on physical, emotional, and psychosocial levels. Any breach of these duties, resulting in resident or patient harm, could qualify as neglect.

Federal law Section 483.25 describes the quality of care required for all U.S. nursing facilities. According to the law, a facility must give residents treatment and care according to professional standards of practice. The facility must care for the resident’s vision and hearing, skin integrity, foot care, mobility, accident prevention, incontinence, colostomy care, nutrition, hydration, respiratory care, and many other aspects of elderly life. Evidence that a nursing home went against any of these accepted standards, resulting in resident injury or death, is negligence in the eyes of the law.

Common Types of Nursing Home Negligence

Nursing homes could be guilty of many different forms of negligence at any phase of resident care. A nursing home’s manager might fail to keep the premises reasonably safe for elders, ignoring hazards such as slippery floors, faulty staircases, lack of security, or broken beds. The manager might also be guilty of hiring employees without conducting background checks or properly training them in the ways of senior care. Failing to staff enough employees for the number of residents is also negligent behavior. Nursing homes could also hold vicarious liability for the actions of their employees.

Negligence at the staff level could describe falling outside the accepted standards of elderly care. Failing to keep a resident safe, clean, fed, active, and happy could be negligence if it inflicts preventable harm upon the senior. It is every staff member’s job to obey the law and the rules of the nursing home, as well as to act in the best interests of residents. Negligent care such as refusing to change adult diapers, failing to exercise a disabled individual regularly, or physically abusing residents could result in lawsuits against the facility.

The Elements of a Civil Lawsuit

Proving negligence is an important requirement for civil nursing home claims, but it isn’t the only necessary element. Plaintiffs will also need to show that the defendant did something to cause injury to the elderly person and that the victim suffered real, compensable damages. Simply having evidence that a nursing home is negligent might not be enough to file a lawsuit. The claimant must show that the act of negligence caused or at least contributed to the victim’s damages. Damages can include:

  • Physical injuries
  • Medical expenses
  • Emotional distress or harm
  • Psychological damage
  • Mental anguish
  • Property losses
  • Financial exploitation
  • Lost quality of life

Gathering evidence, medical documents, eyewitness statements, police reports, and expert testimony can all help strengthen a negligence claim against a Baltimore nursing facility. Knowledge of the federal standards of nursing home care is also important, as this is necessary to prove that the defendant broke the accepted standards. A lawyer can help with all aspects of your nursing home negligence claim in Maryland.