Can Nursing Homes Be Liable if a Resident Wanders and Gets Hurt?

Posted by PKSD New Mexico Law Firm on March 25, 2024 in Nursing Home Neglect

elderly woman wandering offNursing home residents who wander have a significant risk of suffering severe or even fatal consequences without intervention. Wandering episodes are often the result of medical or mental conditions or a combination of both.

Should your family member get injured after wandering from his or her nursing home, the dedicated attorneys at PKSD are here to support you. We provide a complimentary initial consultation to review your case. If we determine the nursing home was negligent in some way, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

Our nursing home attorneys in Albuquerque have extensive experience building strong cases and advocating for nursing home residents. We have a history of proven results, having recovered millions in compensation for our clients.

Call for a free case review to learn more about your legal options. If you have a case and choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay.

Request your FREE case review today. 505-677-7777

How Do You Determine Liability for Wandering Incidents?

Identifying negligence by the nursing home staff or the facility itself is crucial in determining whether you may have a valid claim. If there is no proof of negligence, there is no case. Nursing homes and their staff have a legal obligation to implement reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable harm to residents.

To determine whether negligence occurred, our attorneys will need to establish that the facility:

  • Owed a legal duty of care to the injured resident
  • The facility breached its duty of care to that resident
  • The breach of duty led to an incident that caused the resident harm
  • The resident suffered damages, such as medical costs, pain and suffering and other losses

How Could a Nursing Home Fail in Its Duty of Care?

A breach of a nursing home’s duty of care happens in many ways, including when staff members fail in their duty to protect residents at risk for wandering.

In the case of a resident who wanders away from a facility and gets injured, an attorney might investigate the nursing home for failing to:

  • Perform comprehensive assessments of the resident’s medical history
  • Identify and acknowledge a resident’s likelihood for being a wander risk
  • Conduct ongoing evaluations to monitor any changes in a resident’s condition
  • Hire staff that are properly trained to care for at-risk residents
  • Training staff on how to recognize, monitor and prevent at-risk residents from wandering
  • Communicate high-risk residents to staff and provide proper oversight of these staff
  • Supervise and monitor high-risk residents adequately over long periods
  • Implement strategies to mitigate wandering risks for known high-risk residents

How Do You Establish a Nursing Home’s Negligence?

For a negligence claim to hold, one must prove that the nursing home’s inability to prevent wandering directly resulted in physical or emotional harm to the resident, including:

  • Emotional distress
  • Ongoing mental turmoil, such as confusion or anxiety
  • Physical harm due to exposure to harsh conditions
  • Falling after wandering and suffering physical harm
  • Being assaulted after wandering out of the facility or off the property
  • Getting hit by a car after wandering away from the property

Which Residents Are More Likely To Wander?

Individuals most at risk of wandering often include those with a previous history. Other high-risk residents commonly suffer from various memory and mental issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other cognitive impairments.

What Are the Warning Signs of Potential Wandering?

Signs that a resident may be at risk of wandering include:

  • Frequently forgetting how to locate familiar places
  • Being confused about where they are or expressing a desire to go home
  • Talking about past duties as if they are current obligations
  • Taking longer than usual to return from walks
  • Struggling to find common areas within the facility
  • Appearing anxious, upset or confused in crowded settings

Why Do Residents Wander?

Factors that prompt a resident to wander often include being unfamiliar with the new environment. Even when residents have been there for an extended period, they may feel homesick. Residents may become a higher wander risk due to other reasons, such as:

  • Changes to medications
  • New routine
  • Trying to fulfill personal needs
  • Feeling lonely or wanting more social interaction outside the nursing home

How Can PKSD Help?

When a nursing home resident wanders off and suffers serious or fatal harm, their families are also deeply impacted by that trauma. Our attorneys at PKSD can help you hold the at-fault party or parties accountable for their negligence. Although it cannot change what has happened, compensation can help to pay for medical costs and other damages.

If you have a case and decide to have our firm represent you, there are no upfront fees to pay. Our compensation comes solely from any settlement or judgment we secure for your loved one.

Navigating the complexities of nursing home care is challenging under any circumstances, but most especially when it impacts the safety and well-being of our loved ones.

Call PKSD for legal help with a nursing home injury case today. 505-677-7777

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