Nursing homes and assisted living centers have a legal duty to keep residents safe, and to maintain their dignity. Unfortunately, nursing homes often fail to fulfill these duties, which can result in injury or even death to residents.
One tragic circumstance of nursing homes failing to protect residents occurs when nursing homes fail to keep residents safe from an assault committed by another resident. These assaults can include:
- Verbal assault
- Physical assault through hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, tripping, or choking
- Physical assault through hitting a resident with an object, such as a cane or whatever other object may be readily available
- Sexual assault
The Consequence of Resident Assault
As with all assaults, the consequences to those injured can be severe. Physical and sexual assaults can result in broken bones, lacerations, bruising, and head trauma (including traumatic brain injury, or TBI). Many injuries can be permanent. Choking and other severe injuries (such as a head injury caused by a fall) can lead to death. In addition to the physical injuries, those injured can suffer severe psychological injuries, including nightmares and a state of constant fear of further abuse.
Compared to those who are younger and more healthy, nursing home residents are often frail, and thus the effects of an assault take a much higher toll on the body of the person assaulted. In many cases, an assault can lead to a rapidly deteriorating chain of events in the person’s physical condition, which can result in a formerly mobile resident becoming bedridden. In some cases, this chain of events can even lead to resident death.
In addition to the physical impacts, the psychological impacts on residents who are assaulted can also be much more severe than the impact on an otherwise healthy person. In addition to a frail physical condition, many nursing home residents also suffer from cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Thus in addition to the physical impacts of an assault, these residents may not be able to fully appreciate or understand the nature of the assault or why it occurred, and may even believe that another assault is just about to occur.
The physical and psychological combination of the assault then can be devastating.
Why Do Nursing Home Resident Assaults Occur?
Nursing home resident assaults often occur as the result of:
- Many nursing homes are chronically understaffed; often as a result of efforts to increase profits. When understaffing occurs, nursing home staff must manage too many residents at one time, which increases the probability of resident injury.
- Lack of hiring adequately-trained staff. Nursing homes also often fail to hire adequately trained staff, which additionally is usually the result of putting profits over resident welfare. When experienced staff are not hired, and when staff are not adequately trained, this also increases the chance of resident injury.
- The failure to understand the violent tendencies of some residents. Some residents suffer from cognitive issues that may cause them to act out in a dangerous manner, which can include assaulting other residents. Tragically, the residents who perpetrate assault may have lived a life in which they would never think about harming another person. They may not even realize that they have harmed another person immediately after an assault has taken place.
- The failure to segregate potentially violent residents from other residents. One or more of the above factors may lead to a dangerous condition – the failure by nursing home staff to act appropriately by segregating residents who have known violent tendencies from other residents.
How We Help
We represent residents and families in cases of nursing home injury, assisted living center injury and wrongful death, including injury and death occurring as the result of resident-on-resident assault. If a family member has been injured or died in a nursing home as the result of assault or nursing home negligence, please call us to learn how we can help.
We accept injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we are only compensated for our time and efforts if we are successful in securing a settlement or judgment for our clients.