Suing Nursing Homes for Abuse or Neglect

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A nursing home can be held legally liable for damages that its residents suffer due to abuse or neglect. Loved ones may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home for causing harm to a family member. However, it is important for the family to understand the dynamics involved in this type of lawsuit and the legal basis for claims against a nursing home.

Factors that Can Lead to a Civil Lawsuit

A variety of accidents, failures to act or intentional acts can ultimately result in legal liability on the part of the nursing home.
This can be based on factors related to the employee, not following proper protocol or not following specific procedures. Some legal grounds for lawsuits against nursing homes include:

Failure to Maintain the Premises

A nursing home is responsible for keeping the facility in a safe manner for its residents and other individuals. A nursing home may be sued if it fails to remove trip hazards or address dangerous conditions on the premises and a nursing home resident falls as a result of this failure to maintain the premises. Nursing homes should take actions to make them aware of hazards, such as having staff clean up areas at certain intervals or inspect areas for possible dangers.

Negligent Hiring or Supervision

Nursing homes are expected to provide competent medical care to its residents. However, many nursing homes are understaffed. Caregivers are often not paid well and may have difficult jobs that require them to take care of many residents at a time, which may lead to stress and frustration. If an employee neglects, abuses or harms a patient, the nursing home may be held liable for not checking the caregiverís background, not training the employee properly or keeping the caregiver on the payroll despite complaints.

Failure to Provide Proper Medical Treatment

Nursing homes provide medical care and treatment to their residents. If they fail to meet the appropriate standard of care to residents, they may be liable for this in a manner similar to a medical malpractice claim. In these types of claims, there may be a medical expert who testifies about what the proper standard of care would be in another nursing home confronting the same medical issue and how the residentís nursing home fell below this standard of care.

Failure to Follow Health and Safety Policies

Nursing homes are required to implement health and safety procedures that allow them to maintain a sanitary and healthy environment for their residents.

Intentional and Tortious Acts

A nursing home can be sued for the intentional or tortious acts of its employees, such as a nursing home resident committing abuse against a resident. The nursing home can be held liable for such actions on the basis of vicarious liability.

Violation of Federal or State Regulations

If the nursing home receives Medicare funds for treatment, then the nursing home must abide by federal regulations. These regulations require the nursing home to remove accident hazards when possible and to provide proper supervision and assistance devices to help residents avoid accidents. If the facility accepts Medicaid or funds from other state-based insurance programs, it may also be required to comply with state regulations regarding nursing homes.

Preparation of a Lawsuit

The claim against a nursing home begins with a complaint against the nursing home. This is a legal document that sets out certain information. It must assert specific grounds that gives the court the ability to provide relief. For example, for many negligence claims, the complaint should state what legal duty the nursing home had, how it breached that duty and how that breach caused the residentís damages. Other information that should be included in the complaint is the partiesí names, the identity of the court, a statement of facts giving details about the specific abuse or negligent acts that gave rise to the claim and an explanation of the victimís damages.


Before a lawsuit is filed, the family may contact a personal injury lawyer. He or she may launch an investigation into the causes of the residentís injuries. The lawyer may take pictures of potential evidence and interview witnesses. He or she may also examine medical records.


After the lawsuit is filed, the personal injury lawyer can conduct formal discovery. This is the process of gathering evidence from the opposing party.

Contact a Lawyer for Assistance

Nursing home abuse cases can be complex. A lawyer can help with pre-trial negotiations and provide representation in court if necessary.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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