Nursing homes have a legal obligation to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents. These requirements come from both federal nursing home regulations and the basic building blocks of personal injury law. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their residents. When nursing home facilities fail to uphold this by compromising their safety, you can hold them legally responsible in a lawsuit.
There are numerous ways that nursing homes could put your loved one’s safety at risk. The first is by failing to protect your loved one from a fall. Federal law requires skilled nursing facilities to have fall prevention plans when a resident presents a risk for falls. This plan must be updated if they have a fall.
Not only must a nursing home protect your loved one from a fall by managing their environment, but they must also safeguard everyone. There are numerous hazards at a nursing home that could threaten everyone’s safety, including:
- Spills on the floor that are not quickly cleaned
- Cracks in the floor or frayed carpet
- Debris that is left in the middle of a hallway
The reality at many nursing homes is that the facility does not have enough staff to take care of their residents because they are cutting back in the name of profits. Understaffing can often result in poor maintenance of the facilities and substandard care for residents, potentially causing preventable severe accidents and injuries. These risks are magnified when residents are left unsupervised.
Nursing homes also must protect their residents’ physical safety. One of the main threats to safety is nursing home abuse. This could happen at the hands of the staff, who could physically or sexually abuse residents. Nursing home abuse is a growing problem, and only one in 14 cases of nursing home abuse are reported.
Another threat to a resident’s safety comes at the hands of their fellow residents. Sexual assault is frequently resident-on-resident. Families can still sue the nursing home when a resident physically injures their loved one. The facility has an obligation to keep all residents safe from both staff members and residents.
Protecting residents also means taking steps to keep them physically safe inside the facility. Elopement is a major problem at nursing homes when unsupervised residents leave the facility. Some do not physically survive because they no longer have the capacity to be outside independently, and they can be hit by cars or even freeze to death. The nursing home is legally responsible for the safety of its residents, even if they leave the facility.
Safety violations also could include instances in which a nursing home does not take steps to keep residents safe from outbreaks running rampant throughout the facility. This could happen when a pandemic or even a virus sickens residents and the nursing home has failed to engage in basic infection control.
The CDC has strict guidelines for infection control that nursing homes must follow. Seniors are much more susceptible to infections, and nursing homes are prime breeding grounds. The nursing home can be liable when they fail to prevent diseases from spreading throughout the facility.
Toxins can also endanger nursing home residents in the air in their facility. In addition, there are fire risks. There have been numerous examples of nursing home fires that have killed residents. Elderly and immobile residents are difficult to evacuate in the event of a fire.
Federal regulations have numerous rules that nursing homes must follow to eliminate fire risk. However, safety inspections routinely catch nursing homes not following these rules.
Environmental dangers could also include food safety risks. Some nursing homes keep food for longer than they should in the name of using what they have and not having to buy new food.
Nursing homes are responsible for every aspect of their residents’ lives. This includes:
- Ensuring that they get the medical care they need
- Properly feeding and hydrating them
- Dressing, toileting, and maintaining their hygiene
- Making sure that they have activities available to them
Many of these can be a matter of life and death. For example, the following failures can kill a nursing home resident:
- Not promptly changing a resident can lead to a urinary tract infection
- Failure to change the senior’s position regularly can lead to bedsores that could progress to a life-threatening infection
- Failing to ensure that a resident drinks fluid can lead to dehydration
- Not providing prompt and adequate medical care could both be malpractice and negligence
All of these can form the basis for a nursing home neglect lawsuit. First, you would need to obtain your loved one’s records, so you can show how the nursing home failed to provide the necessary care.
Nursing home safety issues are getting worse as the overall level of care declines across the country. Even before the COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, some staff at nursing homes were warning of a dangerous drop in resident safety. The problem is getting worse, as what little safety culture there was at many homes is gone.
Fines and penalties are the tools that the government has in its arsenal to try to get nursing homes to clean up their act, and even these do not seem to work. The same nursing homes are serial violators of safety rules, and they are cited repeatedly. In the meantime, your loved ones in the facility are at risk.
You Can File a Lawsuit When Your Loved One Is Injured
The question is what you can do about it when there is a safety violation at the nursing home where your loved one lives. If it has injured your loved one, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the nursing home.
Any nursing home lawsuit will be based on negligence. It is a fact that many people will fall or be injured at a skilled nursing facility each year. When residents are infirm and suffering from declining capacity, they are more at risk for falls.
Proving negligence for a nursing home safety violation relies on the same four-part negligence test that is the basis for all personal injury lawsuits. The four things that you must prove to be legally entitled to financial compensation include:
- The nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care (this seems pretty obvious in most nursing home lawsuits).
- The nursing home breached the duty by failing to act reasonably under the circumstances.
- Your loved one was injured
- Your loved one would not have been injured had it not been for the nursing home’s actions or omissions
Nursing home lawsuits all come down to the facts. You need to learn what happened and show how the nursing home breached its duty of care. This requires an experienced attorney with a track record of holding nursing homes legally responsible for their actions.
Nursing homes do not make it easy to sue them for safety violations. Families often report difficulty getting any information from the nursing home when their loved one has been in an accident. The facility knows that it faces a possible lawsuit and a punishment from the government, so they often take steps to conceal what happened. This is why you need a lawyer to get to the bottom of things and help you with a lawsuit.
Damages in a Nursing Home Lawsuit
If your lawsuit is successful, you could receive the following:
- Wrongful death damages (assuming your loved one died from their injuries)
- The pain and suffering that your loved one endured
- Possible punitive damages if the nursing home’s conduct was horrible
- The cost of medical bills to treat your loved one’s injuries
You need a nursing home neglect and abuse attorney who knows the full value of your claim. Many nursing home lawsuits settle, and it is crucial to get everything you deserve, both to help your family and hold the nursing home responsible for the harm that it did to your family member whom you entrusted to them.
Charleston Nursing Home Neglect Attorneys
If your loved one has been injured in the care of a nursing home in South Carolina, you should not hesitate to take strong action to get the justice your family deserves. The attorneys at the Law Offices of David Aylor can help you hold a nursing home accountable for neglect. Call us today at (843) 744-4444 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. You owe us nothing unless we help you obtain a financial recovery.