One of the toughest things we can do as adults is to entrust the care of ageing loved ones to nursing homes when they can no longer care for themselves – or we can no longer care for them. Maybe it’s because their loss of independence is a stark reminder of our own mortality. Or perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of what may happen when we’re no longer in control.
After all, we’ve all heard horror stories about various facilities. But in truth, no matter how “good” a nursing home is there’s always a chance something will go wrong. So when can you sue a nursing home for negligence?
Grounds for legal action
There are numerous circumstances in which you may be able to take legal action against a nursing home. In general you may be able to do so if:
- Your loved one was hurt after the nursing home’s owner, administrator and/or staff failed to identify and address the actual or potential threat to his or her safety.
- Improper hiring and or training practices resulted in the employment of a person or people that deliberately harmed your loved one through acts of neglect, abuse or similar conduct.
- Your loved one fell and got hurt as a result of improper or insufficient staff supervision.
- Your relative got sick or hurt because the nursing home failed to provide and follow adequate health and safety policies.
- The facility and/or a specific doctor or specialist fails to provide sufficient medical care given your relative’s condition.
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Litigation based on lack of compliance with federal law
You may also be able to sue if your loved one was injured and there is reason to believe the nursing home failed to comply with federal law. This is because all nursing homes that accept Medicare are legally obligated to abide by certain rules governing the provision of care. Specifically, these facilities must obey42 CFR sec. 483.25 (h), which mandates that they:
- Take all reasonable precautions to keep the environment free from actual and potential hazards; and
- Providing each resident with sufficient supervision and equipment to maintain their safety.
But how do you know if a facility broke this rule? Here’s what usually happens. Someone witnesses an incident or multiple incidents in which patients/residents are endangered or injured. The matter is reported to the appropriate person at the facility, who then reports it to the government.
Based on the report, a team from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) assesses the conditions at the facility. If the evaluation yields evidence of any violations of federal standards of care, the agency will fine the facility for each one.
If the facility disagrees with the findings, it can dispute them at a hearing conducted by an administrative law judge. If it is still dissatisfied, it can appeal to the applicable federal appeals court.
The bottom line
If you have entrusted the care of a loved one to a nursing home and believe they’ve been injured in suspicious circumstances, it’s important to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Dansker & Aspromonte Associates, our personal injury team knows how to get results – and you won’t pay any fees unless we do. So contact us to arrange a free consultation today.