Are Nursing Homes Liable for Abuse by Staff?

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Nursing homes have a legally enforceable duty to protect and care for the elderly under their supervision. Many states set their own minimum standards of care; nursing homes accepting federal funding like Medicare must uphold federal standards and submit to regular inspections.

Most often, nursing home liability arises from the abuse or negligent oversight of an elderly person. Forms of maltreatment can involve everything from physical to financial abuse. Typically, negligent conditions are the result of poor maintenance of the premises, medical equipment or general equipment, or inadequate training of staff members and employees.

Vicarious Liability of Caregivers

While the horrific abuses of sadistic caregivers may grab headlines, abuse and negligent are more commonly caused by systemic staffing problems such as faulty hiring processes, poor retention and training of staff members, or substandard supervision by managerial or departmental staff. Accordingly, under the theory of vicarious liability, nursing homes can be held responsible for an individual caregiver’s maltreatment of an elderly person, even if the nursing home did not give specific direction to those actions or was not aware of them.

How to Prove Liability Against Nursing Home Abuse

In cases where abuse and negligent of an elderly person are particularly obvious, egregious, or extreme, it should not be difficult to prove nursing home liability. In general, however, both the victim and the nursing home will provide expert testimony on the conditions and duties owed to the elderly person in question. This testimony may be decisive in establishing whether a breach has occurred. As with other forms of personal injury liability, the plaintiff and his or her counsel will use their expert testimony to prove the nursing home was negligent in its care of the victim, while the nursing will attempt to show that a resident’s injuries were the inevitable byproduct of ill health, old age, or possibly were self-inflicted.

Not all forms of nursing home abuse and neglect will be readily recognized or understood by the lay person, which is why it is so important to get the opinion of a nursing home attorney and his or her support personnel. In many cases, neglect can be constructed as a deviation or ignorance of the appropriate medical practices in response to the development of certain medical conditions; or alternatively, as an inappropriate level or distribution of staffing at the time of the incident in question.

Pennsylvania & New Jersey Nursing Home Law Firm

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If you or anyone you know has been a victim of nursing home misconduct, abuse, or neglect, please contact our experienced elder abuse attorneys immediately toll-free at 1-855-462-3330 or by using our online contact form.