Nursing Home Liability for Wandering Resident Injuries

When Can a Nursing Home Be Liable for Wandering Residents Who Get Injured?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on December 27, 2019 in Nursing Home Abuse
Updated on February 24, 2022

Elderly woman walking aloneA lot of nursing home residents are prone to wandering, and this could lead to serious or even life-threatening injury. Residents could suffer heat stroke during the summer, frostbite during the winter, fall injuries because of a tripping hazard or uneven ground or drowning if they fall into water.

If your loved one was injured after wandering at his or her nursing home, one of our experienced Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers from PKSD may be able to help. We are prepared to discuss your claim during a free initial consultation and help you determine whether the nursing home may be held liable for your loved one’s injuries.

Determining Liability

If a resident wanders off and you or your attorney can establish negligence, either by staff or the facility or both, you may have a case for negligence. A nursing home and its staff members owe a duty of care to residents, which requires them to take all reasonable precautions to protect residents from foreseeable harm.

Establishing a Breached Duty of Care

If the nursing home fails to uphold its duty of care, there may be a case for negligence. To help gather evidence for your potential claim, your attorney may investigate whether the nursing home:

  • Was informed about a patient’s history of wandering
  • Conducted a full examination to evaluate medical history and assess whether a patient was prone to wandering
  • Performed regular evaluations to stay informed about changes in his or her well-being
  • Hired competent staff
  • Trained caregivers on how to detect or prevent a resident at risk for wandering
  • Regularly monitored high-risk residents
  • Left residents known to be high-risk for wandering unattended for long periods of time
  • Took any precautions to prevent wandering if staff were aware of a high-risk resident

Resident Sustained Damages Because of Negligence

If the nursing home failed to detect or prevent a resident from wandering, your attorney must then prove your loved one’s wandering resulted in damages, which could include:

  • Emotional harm
  • Ongoing anxiety, fear, confusion or other emotional trauma
  • Physical harm after being subjected to the elements for several hours or even days

Patients at High Risk of Wandering

Residents who have a known history of wandering, along with residents with memory problems, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, senility or some other brain condition have a higher risk of wandering than other residents.

Warning signs that a patient may develop, or already have, a tendency to wander include the following:

  • The patient starts forgetting how to reach familiar places
  • The patient is confused about where he or she is and expresses wanting to go home
  • The patient talks about work or other obligations from the past, but as if it is in the present
  • The patient returns from a walk later than usual
  • The patient has difficulty locating familiar places like the bathroom or cafeteria
  • The patient becomes anxious or confused in crowded areas

Reasons Residents May Wander

In addition to a patient’s medical condition, there are other common reasons that a resident may develop a tendency to wander, including:

  • Being new to the facility and unfamiliar with the environment
  • Becoming confused or homesick because he or she wants to be in a more familiar setting
  • A recent change in medications
  • Newly-implemented and unfamiliar routines
  • Getting lost while trying to meet a personal need, such as eating or using the restroom
  • Wanting to interact with others, such as friends or family, outside of the care facility
  • Wanting to return home

Contact PKSD for a Free Consultation

Wandering can be a very traumatic experience, both for the nursing home resident and his or her family. Our knowledgeable attorneys at PKSD are prepared to help you determine whether you may have a potential claim in a free initial consultation.

If we determine that you may have a valid case for negligence and we represent you, there are no upfront fees to pay. We do not collect any money unless we achieve a successful recovery for your loved one.

Contact us today: 877-877-2228

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