If you have a loved one staying in a nursing home, you probably worry about whether he will receive the care he needs and the kindness he deserves. One of the last things you might expect, however, is that someone might assault him at the facility.
Unfortunately, attacks do happen, so it is good to know your options in this situation. You can file a claim against the person who attacked your loved one, and sometimes you can go after compensation from the nursing home. If the nursing home was careless and that mistake caused or contributed to the assault, the facility can be liable.
You Can Sue for Your Damages
An assault is a crime, so the police should get involved and pursue criminal charges against the attacker. Since an assault is both a crime and a tort, you can claim damages. A tort is a civil wrong, as opposed to a crime, which is a criminal wrong. The fact that the police get involved does not prevent you from being able to file a claim seeking compensation.
Filing a Claim After an Assault in a Nursing Home
You can seek money damages from the individual attacker, but if the facility’s negligence contributed to the assault, you can also hold them responsible. Here are two of the more common legal grounds for filing a claim against a nursing home after an assault:
We will have to prove all four of these factors of negligence to hold the nursing home responsible for the assault:
- Legal duty of care. The nursing home has a duty to use reasonable measures to hire employees who will not harm the residents. For example, the nursing home should use extensive background checks as part of the hiring process.
- Breach of the duty of care. Failing to measure up to the legal duty of care is negligence. If the nursing home did not perform adequate background checks before hiring a new employee, the facility has violated its duty of care. Let's say that someone applies for a position to work as a nurse's aide. He had a criminal conviction for assaulting a resident at his previous nursing home job. The new nursing home did not discover this fact because they did not run an adequate background check. The nursing home is negligent.
- Causation. The nursing home hired the unvetted job applicant, who started working as a nurse's aide and assaulted a resident at the facility. Because the nursing home hired the individual, they gave him access to vulnerable people, one of whom he attacked. The negligence of the nursing home contributed to causing the assault.
- Measurable harm. The nursing home resident suffered physical injuries from the attack. For purposes of liability, physical injuries satisfy the requirement of quantifiable damages. The nursing home is responsible for the victim's injuries under a legal theory of simple negligence.
A nursing home can be liable for injuries caused by negligent security. If the facility failed to take reasonable measures to protect the residents from foreseeable harm, the nursing home can be responsible for the damages that result. We must prove all four elements of negligent security, which include:
- The nursing home owed the victim a duty of care. Residents of nursing homes are generally at risk of harm due to advanced age, physical frailty, and other infirmities. The facility has a duty to provide adequate security for the residents, including having functional locks on all exterior doors to prevent intruders from entering the nursing home.
- The defendant nursing home breached its legal duty. It is negligence to fail to live up to a legal duty of care. The nursing home left the front door unlocked 24 hours a day and did not station any employees or guards in the lobby to prevent unauthorized people from entering the facility. Failing to secure the building with locked doors is negligence.
- The nursing home’s negligent security caused harm to the victim. Let's say that someone walked into the nursing home through the front door in the middle of the night, went to a resident's room and assaulted her. If the nursing home had secured the doors by locking them, the individual could not have perpetrated the attack. As a result, the nursing home’s negligent security caused harm to the resident.
- Adequate security would have prevented the crime. It was foreseeable that someone could enter the building in the middle of the night through an unlocked door and accost a vulnerable, sleeping resident. If the nursing home had secured to the building at night with locked doors, that adequate security would have prevented the crime. The nursing home is liable to the victim because of its negligent security.
Getting Legal Help to File a Claim After an Assault at a Nursing Home
If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of an assault at a nursing home, S. Burke Law can assist when you file a claim for an assault at a nursing home. You can call us today at 404-842-7838 for a free, no obligation consultation.