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Is the Nursing Home Liable for Abuse and Neglect?

In Tennessee, nursing homes are responsible for providing residents with a reasonably safe environment. Under some circumstances when a victim suffers abuse or neglect while in a nursing home's care, the facility may be able to be held liable for injuries sustained. If it is determined that the nursing home is legally liable, victims or their family members may be able to recover financial compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other associated damages.

Determining Nursing Home Liability in Abuse and Neglect Cases

A number of factors are used to determine whether or not a nursing home may be held liable for injuries or deaths that occur while a resident is under the facility's care. If victims suffer emotional, physical, sexual or financial abuse or injuries caused by neglect, nursing homes may be legally liable when:

  • Negligent hiring is involved. Nursing homes are obligated to hire staff members who are adequately qualified for their positions and have no history of violence or abuse. When facilities do not perform background checks, hire despite adverse histories, or do not ensure that employees are qualified, they can be liable for negligent behavior or misconduct that results in injuries.
  • There is understaffing. Staffing shortages put nursing home residents at risk for neglect, and they often become targets for abuse by frustrated, overworked caregivers as well. If nursing homes fail to maintain adequate staff-to-resident ratios and a victim suffers, the facility can be held liable.
  • Employees are not properly trained. Inadequate training can lead to poor decisions that can cause injuries or deaths in nursing homes. When inadequate training is a factor in a victim's suffering, the nursing home can be held responsible.
  • Third-party abuse occurs. Since nursing homes are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe environment for residents, they can be held liable for the violent acts committed by other residents or guests in some situations.
  • Injuries result from unsafe conditions. When handrails, guardrails, lift equipment, furnishings and other types of equipment fail due to poor maintenance or repair, nursing homes may be legally responsible for injuries or deaths that occur.

Many nursing home residents are either unwilling or unable to speak out when they become victims of nursing home abuse or neglect, and many cases are never reported. And neglectful acts and misconduct continue to occur. Therefore friends and family members should be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect so action can be taken when necessary.

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