Nursing Home Negligence Claims: What Needs to be Proven

July 15th, 2016 by Attorney Roger Weinberg

Depending on the facts of the case, there could be a number of legal claims filed against a nursing home or an assisted living facility following the death or serious injury of a resident in Maryland. Though extreme cases of neglect or abuse are occasionally covered by the media, most often legal claims involve simple negligence.

Negligence is a legal claim that can be used by those injured in nursing homes or assisted living facilities under the right circumstances. A plaintiff needs to show these things:

  • The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care (under the circumstances the defendant has a legal obligation to do something or refrain from doing something),
  • That duty of care was breached,
  • The plaintiff was injured as a result (the breach caused the injury in fact and was its direct, legal cause), and
  • The plaintiff suffered legally recognized damages due to the injury.

It’s not necessary to show any ill will or intent to do harm in order to have a successful negligence case. If the facts establish there was such evil intent, part of the damages awarded may be punitive damages, meant to punish the defendant, but it would need to be an extreme case.

The Wall Street Journal in an editorial last year spelled out specific ways that our health care system can be made more safe and less deadly. The issues brought up are as applicable to nursing homes as they are to hospitals, and they illustrate how a negligence case may arise.

Miscommunication when a patient is moved within a hospital or back and forth between a nursing home and hospital is a common cause of deaths and serious injuries from medical error. If a nursing home resident suffers harm in a hospital after leaving a nursing home, that resident may have a valid negligence claim against the nursing home if these things can be shown:

  • The nursing home owes the resident a duty of care (has an obligation to clearly communicate the resident’s medical needs to the hospital);
  • The duty of care was breached by a failure of the nursing to communicate with the hospital by failing to provide it with an updated list of medications the person was taking, information about adverse reactions to medications and information concerning the person’s medical condition;
  • The resident was injured because the hospital administered a drug to which the nursing home knew the resident was allergic but that information was not communicated to the hospital; and
  • Because of those injuries the resident was physically harmed, further limiting the person physically and mentally, and shortening the person’s life.

The facts of a nursing home case may be complex, but to be successfully litigated they often need to be simplified and shown to a judge or jury in a systematic way so a nursing home can be held accountable for the mistakes it made. If you or a loved one has suffered neglect or abuse at a Maryland nursing home, we can help you address the situation and hold those responsible accountable for their actions. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.

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