Yes, you can file a lawsuit against a nursing home if they fail to prevent your loved one from wandering or eloping. These behaviors can be very dangerous, especially if your loved one is in poor mental or physical health. If the nursing home did not take measures to prevent elopement, the nursing home could be found negligent for indirectly placing your loved one in harm’s way.
Generally, allowing a resident to wander away from a nursing home may qualify as negligence. Staff members are required to uphold their duties to care for residents and keep them safe from any avoidable hazards. If that duty of care has been broken, you may be within your rights to sue the facility to help you pursue compensation related to the financial, physical, and mental suffering of your loved one and your family.
Why Residents Wander from Nursing Homes
Many residents wander away from nursing homes because of cognitive issues related to aging or dementia. They may also wander because of stress or anxiety. Ultimately, the true reasons for wandering may vary between residents.
While memory loss plays a large role in many of these cases (often brought on by conditions like Alzheimer’s), some instances of wandering occur because of visual or spatial awareness issues.
The Mayo Clinic identifies some of the most common causes of wandering, which include:
- Looking for objects, people, locations, or food
- Repeating daily routines from the past
- Feeling scared, either for themselves or someone they love
- Being put into stressful situations or environments
- Suddenly becoming lost
- Mental health disorders
Methods to Prevent Elopement and Wandering
Some of the most useful methods for preventing wandering are increased supervision and security. However, there are some psychological methods that may also help, like making the residents feel more comfortable with their life at the nursing home. Building a sense of community and compassion may prevent residents from venturing off on their own.
Additionally, Mayo Clinic notes several other methods for preventing wandering and elopement:
- Utilizing alarm systems and locks
- Disguising exit doorways so they are not obvious to the residents
- Keeping keys away from residents, especially the keys to the main exits or vehicles on the property
- Supervising the residents at all times
In some cases, understaffing can also be a cause of elopement issues, as insufficient staffing can lead to conditions where unsupervised residents could leave the premises. If you have observed signs that a nursing home is understaffed or has not made plans to prevent the elopement of at-risk residents, you can share these details with a lawyer.
Why Should You Call a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer?
Our law firm has obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for victims of injustice throughout Las Vegas. We will fight against the injustice of negligence in nursing homes. If you are wondering if you can sue a nursing home for your loved one’s elopement and wandering, our attorneys can be there to examine your case and educate you about your legal options before you make any important decisions.
If you decide to retain a nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm, we can be there to handle your case from start to finish. We can gather the evidence needed to show that your loved one was harmed by a nursing home’s negligence. To learn more about filing a lawsuit after an elopement incident, contact a Bernstein & Poisson representative today at (702) 633-3333 to receive your free consultation.