Understanding Duty of Care in a Nursing Home Abuse Case

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on August 19, 2019 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on February 24, 2022

lady and nurseEvery person has a responsibility to act reasonably in order to avoid harm to others. This is especially true when we trust nursing home facilities to care for our elderly loved ones. The duty of care in nursing homes dictates the way nursing home staff must treat residents. If this duty is violated, the nursing home patient and his or her family may have a legal case against the home for any damages their loved one sustained.

Learn more about the duty of care element and how it applies to nursing home abuse cases. Then, contact the dedicated Wisconsin nursing home abuse attorneys at PKSD to learn if you may have a viable claim against the nursing home.

What Is Duty of Care in a Nursing Home?

A duty of care is the legal responsibility of someone to avoid behaviors that are reasonably foreseeable to cause harm to others. The duty of care may be based off of laws that establish this duty, the contract between the parties or the reasonable standard to not cause harm to others.

In a nursing home setting, the nursing home has the contractual and legal duty to provide patients with protection, safety and care. By contractually agreeing to provide care and medical services to patients and for receiving compensation for fulfilling these duties, nursing homes accept a level of liability if they fail to provide the duty of care required by law.

When Is Duty of Care Breached?

The duty of care is breached when the nursing home or its staff fails to provide the duty of care and this results in injury to the patient. The duty of care may be breached when the conduct violates state law, the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, the nursing home contract or the reasonable care standard.

Reasonable care is defined on a case-by-case basis in light of a number of factors, including:

  • The patient’s health
  • The patient’s medical needs
  • The patient’s medical history
  • The relevant standards of care

The injured patient must be able to establish that he or she did not receive reasonable care and that this caused him or her to suffer damages.

Examples of the Breach of Duty of Care

Some examples of breach of duty of care include:

  • Negligent hiring of nursing home employees
  • Understaffing so there are not enough workers for residents
  • Negligent training by not educating employees about state and federal health, and safety standards
  • Not properly completing a fall risk assessment on patients
  • Failing to maintain a safe premises
  • Failing to provide appropriate medical treatment
  • Declining to prevent nursing home abuse
  • Failing to respond to patient requests or complaints
  • Negligent supervision of residents

Proving Nursing Home Liability

To prove nursing home liability, you will need evidence that the nursing home failed to provide a safe environment for your loved one. An attorney can take steps to gather important evidence to establish your claim, such as requesting nursing home records and reports. Medical reports may reveal the cause of injuries. The nursing home patient, staff members or other patients may provide testimony about the lack of duty of care. In some cases, expert witnesses may be called to testify about what the appropriate duty of care was and how the nursing home breached it.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer to Learn More

If you suspect that your loved one was injured because of a breach of duty of care, it may benefit you to speak with an nursing home abuse attorney at PKSD. Our experienced team of attorneys may be able to help you navigate the complex system of federal and state nursing home laws to establish liability on the part of the nursing home. If we determine that you have a case, we are prepared to protect your love one’s rights and pursue maximum compensation for the harm that your loved one suffered.

Contact us today to schedule a 100 percent free consultation.

Back to top