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Proving negligence after a nursing home injury: Part II

Posted in Nursing Home Neglect on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

The discussion we began last week focuses on proving negligence in a civil lawsuit against a nursing home. While most nursing homes in the United States offer high-quality care from a competent and compassionate staff, this is not always the case.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to nursing home abuse or neglect, there are essentially three things you will need to prove in order to have a viable case. In today’s post, we’ll discuss these in greater detail.

You first need to prove that the defendants had a duty of care to the injured person and that the duty was breached. If the injury was caused by inherently unsafe premises, you might explain what led to the accident and what should have been done to prevent it. If the injury was the result of negligent medical care that is complicated to explain, you may need to arrange for expert medical testimony.

Next, you will need to prove that the injury occurred because of the breach of duty. If the injury was caused by a slippery and uneven floor, you may argue that such conditions should not be permitted in a nursing home because many residents have mobility and balance issues.

Finally, you will need to demonstrate that the injury was ultimately caused by the conduct of defendants, whether they are the nursing home’s owners or employees. In the case of slippery and uneven floors, you may argue that the defendants knew or should have known that such surfaces were hazardous, yet they failed to remedy those hazards.

In some personal injury lawsuits, defendants argue that the plaintiff contributed, at least in part, to his or her own injuries through what is referred to as “contributory negligence.” Defendants in nursing home cases also sometimes try to argue that the accidents were the result of the plaintiff’s pre-existing health conditions and not negligence on the part of nursing home owners and staff.

The good news is that when hearing defense arguments, courts often recognize the unique circumstances that cause someone to be in a nursing home in the first place. Defendants may not be allowed to argue contributory negligence, for instance, because the injured person may have specifically checked in to a nursing home because of their health conditions and physical limitations.

If you or a loved one needs to pursue a negligence claim against a nursing home, please seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.