Elopement and Wandering

Nothing is more terrifying than hearing the news that a nursing home cannot find your family member. If your elderly mother, father, or grandparent was wrongfully killed or injured after wandering off a nursing home’s property, the nursing home should be held accountable for the harms and losses suffered, including medical bills or funeral costs.

However, holding a nursing home accountable for neglect is no small task. The nursing home and their insurance companies will have a team of highly-paid, black hat defense lawyers. To level the playing field and hold the nursing home accountable for negligence, you need an aggressive law firm in your family’s corner.

To speak with an experienced nursing home neglect attorney about an escape-related nursing home injury, contact us for a free and confidential legal consultation. We can help you determine what steps to take next if your mom or dad was injured due to nursing home negligence.

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Nursing Home Liability When Residents Escape or Leave

Nursing homes are supposed to provide safe, secure spaces for elderly people who need help managing serious disabilities, impairments, or medical conditions. Unfortunately, problems like understaffing or inadequate employee training can create opportunities for residents to leave the premises, which is known as “wandering” or “elopement.”

Even if a resident remains on the premises – for example, wandering from his or her room into a kitchen, basement, or laundry area – devastating accidents can still occur. For instance, a resident could fall down a flight of stairs, or become trapped in a freight elevator or storage closet without food, water, or the appropriate clothing.

When a nursing home resident wanders off nursing home property, he or she may be at serious risk of suffering injury, or even being killed by the hazards of the outside world. The resident could be physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, hit by a car, or attacked by an animal. There is also a risk of the resident developing frostbite or hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature), or suffering heatstroke or hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature), especially during the peak months of winter and summer.

Moreover, many nursing home residents require one or more daily medications. Some of these medications need to be administered multiple times per day. When a resident escapes, prolonged lack of access to crucial medication creates yet another health and safety issue.

Injuries that can occur when residents elope from nursing homes include:

  • Back Injuries and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Bone Fractures (Broken Bones)
  • Bruising and Contusions
  • Cuts and Lacerations
  • Head Injuries and Brain Injuries
  • Slip and Fall Accident Injuries

All of these risks are exceptionally dangerous for escaped residents who have cognitive impairments, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Such impairments make it less likely that the resident will be able to find their way back, or even perceive the fact that they are lost and in danger. An escaped resident who has a cognitive impairment might be unable to tell people who they are, where they came from, or what they need in terms of food, water, or medical care. When a resident escapes the premises, whether intentionally or unintentionally, there is an urgent ticking clock until he or she is found.

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Suing a Nursing Home for Negligence and Injury

Nursing homes are responsible for preventing harm to residents. That includes a duty to ensure residents do not leave the premises without proper supervision. If a resident wanders off the property and is killed, robbed, sexually assaulted, or injured as a consequence, the resident or their family members may have a “cause of action,” or legal justification for filing a lawsuit against the nursing home.

In order to be awarded compensation in a lawsuit, you will need to show the court that the nursing home was negligent, meaning the nursing home failed to meet its harm-prevention responsibilities to the resident. Your nursing home elopement lawyer will launch an investigation to compile evidence that shows nursing home negligence led to your loved one’s death or injury.

This includes undertaking a detailed review of the nursing home’s resident supervision policies, employee training requirements, and protocols for recovering escaped residents. For example, were the entrances and exits being monitored appropriately, whether in person or by security cameras, at the time of the elopement? If it was not the resident’s first time escaping, what protocols were put in place following the first escape? Were any doors left unlocked by staff members when they should have been locked or set with an alarm? Other pieces of information that an attorney can use to strengthen your case include expert testimony, eyewitness testimony, photos of the injury, and the resident’s medical records.

Depending on which state has jurisdiction over your case, the amount of compensation you can recover may be subject to caps (limits). In some states, like Pennsylvania, no caps are imposed on the recovery for nursing home malpractice cases.

Our attorneys are well-versed in each state’s laws concerning residents’ rights and nursing home safety regulations. We will help you understand your legal rights, the legal deadlines that affect your case, and other important aspects of filing a claim or lawsuit against the facility your loved one escaped from.

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Contact a Nursing Home Elopement and Wandering Lawyer

A supervised group outing can be a fun way for a nursing home resident to spend their afternoon. However, leaving the premises without supervision opens a doorway to grave danger, as does unsupervised wandering throughout the facility.

If your mother, father or family member was injured after leaving a nursing home, they may be entitled to financial compensation for the resulting harm. To learn more about bringing a nursing home injury claim, contact us today. The consultation is free, and we will keep your personal information confidential.