Last month, an elderly man died after he was allegedly attacked by another resident at the nursing home where the two men lived. The residents involved were from West Brunswick, Pennsylvania which is located between Pottsville and Allentown, about 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
According to an online news report, a 92 year old resident was beaten by another resident and suffered minor head injuries and abrasions. However, after the assault took place, the victim appeared to be okay, but later died after suffering cardiac arrest. Source: www.wfmz.com, Death of elderly man at assisted living facility under investigation
Assaults by Fellow Residents, Is the Nursing Home Liable?
Nursing homes are tasked with the duty to take reasonable care of residents, and that includes protecting residents from unreasonable risks of harm, including assaults and attacks by other residents. Failure to act reasonably under the circumstances may lead to liability in a resulting civil negligence lawsuit.
An assault by a fellow resident is one of many anticipated risks that nursing homes must be prepared for, especially considering that residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit aggressive tendencies. In a nursing home assault case, a nursing home facility may be liable for the following:
- failing to take appropriate corrective action,
- failing to provide warning to staff and residents, and
- failing to train staff about how to manage resident relationship issues.
Nursing Home Liability Hypothetical
For example, two nursing home residents are known to have problems getting along. One resident is verbally abusive and makes threats of harm to the other. The family of the resident complains to the nursing home about the problem. However, the nursing home turns a blind eye and does nothing. One night, the abusive resident sneaks into the other resident’s room and beats him, killing him.
Here, the nursing home may be liable for failing to intervene after the family of the victim complained about the behavior. The basis of liability would be failure to take corrective action and failure to train staff about how to manage problematic resident relationships. In addition, there may be an additional theory of liability, negligence in supervising residents during the night. If the nursing home policy included a provision that prohibited residents from walking around unaccompanied at night, it may be liable for failing to enforce that policy, thus resulting in the attack and death.
It is important to note that nursing home abuse is not just limited to physical assaults. Neglect is a very serious form of abuse. Nursing home residents who suffer neglect can develop serious infections or complications and may die as a result. For instance, a nursing home resident who develops severe bed sores can develop sepsis, which often leads to death for elderly individuals.
If your loved one was assaulted or beaten in a long term care facility like a nursing home in the Pennsylvania or New Jersey area, please call our office to set up a free initial consultation. (215) 985-0777
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