Nursing homes have a legal obligation to ensure the protection and safety of all elderly residents in their care. One of the main reasons some families decide to place their senior family members in a nursing home is to ensure they are cared for and remain safe.
No elderly resident should have the ability to wander away or elope (leave) from a nursing home facility unattended without permission. If your senior loved one is suffering from injuries that occurred after wandering off or eloping from a nursing home, consider how a Los Angeles wandering and elopement lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you understand your legal right to seek justice for them. Give us a call at (800) 794-0444 today.
Understanding Wandering and Elopement From Nursing Homes
Elopement, or wandering away from a nursing home unsupervised, involves leaving without express permission. A nursing home resident may elope or wander away from the facility for various reasons, including the following:
- Neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia leaves a resident confused about their surroundings.
- Frustration on the resident’s part regarding being required to stay in a nursing home.
- Confusion regarding activities or where a resident should be at a certain time.
While there are many reasons a nursing home resident would wander away from a facility, neurocognitive disorders can also cause many elopements. In these cases, a resident does not understand their surroundings. They are easily confused and may believe they do not live in the nursing home and need to get home to their loved ones. In other cases, they may feel a strong need to go to school or feed a pet from long ago.
Neurocognitive disorders can play serious tricks on the mental faculties of an elderly person, which is why some families place their relatives in a nursing home. Therefore, these residents should receive extra attention to ensure they never leave a nursing home unsupervised, as serious accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries or death could occur.
For a free legal consultation with a Wandering and Elopement Lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (800) 794-0444
Wandering, Elopement and Nursing Home Negligence
A nursing home’s primary purpose is to ensure its residents remain cared for and protected. Still, some nursing home facilities in the U.S. have substantial incidents of elopement and residents wandering away.
If an elderly resident somehow elopes from a nursing home, the facility’s negligence to safeguard the resident may lead to serious consequences, including severe injuries or death. If a resident leaves a nursing home unattended, the facility may be liable for any injuries or losses that the senior-age resident suffers.
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How Nursing Homes Can Be Held Liable in Wandering and Elopement Cases
Nursing homes should have protocols in place to prevent elderly residents from wandering away from authorized areas or leaving the facility altogether. Still, long-term care facilities could be found negligent if their failure to keep residents safe leads to them seriously hurting themselves or worse.
Below are examples of situations that could result in facilities being found negligent in a wandering or elopement incident:
- Staffing shortages that reduce the supervision of residents
- Not securing all doors, windows, and other building features
- Failing to identify or disguise areas that make it easy for residents to wander off or leave
- Not having enough security devices, such as alarms, on all entry or exit points of the facility or failing to ensure they are working properly
- Not ensuring that only authorized individuals access the facility
- Not adhering to signing in/out procedures regarding people who visit facility residents
- Not training staff to recognize residents at high risk of wandering or eloping or how to appropriately respond to situations involving wandering or elopement
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What to Do After a Wandering or Elopement Has Occurred
Any wandering or elopement incident that occurs at a nursing home could be a sign of negligence on the facility’s part. If your senior family member recently wandered off or eloped from their nursing home and suffered injuries, or if they died, learn how a Los Angeles wandering and elopement lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you with your case.
As you gather information for your records, ask your loved one questions so that you can get details of the incident, including the time of day and where the wandering or elopement took place.
You will also want to let the facility’s management know what happened and file a report with them and the agency in your state that handles complaints about nursing homes. You can also request that the agency investigate the incident. Medicare offers guidance on what to do if you want to file a complaint.
Keep careful notes as you document the situation. You will need them later should you decide to take legal action. If you decide to pursue legal recourse, be aware that under California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1, individuals have two years from the date of injury to pursue legal action. If you miss the deadline to file your case, you will not have the opportunity to pursue justice and compensation.
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Talk with a Los Angeles Wandering and Elopement Lawyer Today
Your elderly family member deserves to receive appropriate care and supervision as a nursing home resident. If the facility is not taking steps to ensure their safety, and if your senior family member was injured after wandering away or eloping from the facility, you might have the legal right to bring a claim of negligence against the facility and recover the cost of medical bills and other expenses.
Learn how a Los Angeles wandering and elopement lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 794-0444 can help you with your case by contacting our legal team today.