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Is nursing home elopement a type of abuse or neglect?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse

Elopement, which involves leaving a safe area unnoticed and unattended, can cause injuries and even threaten the lives of nursing home residents — especially those with cognitive decline. Since nursing homes must protect and supervise residents, they may be held liable for the harm a wandering elder suffers.

You may have grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit if your loved one eloped from their residence and suffered harm. After all, neglect or failing to prevent harm is as abusive as causing it in many situations.

What must you prove in a lawsuit?

To win a nursing home abuse lawsuit involving elopement, you must show that the facility was negligent in caring for your family member. Some examples of possible negligence include:

  • Insufficient staffing
  • Poorly trained staff
  • Inadequate safety measures
  • Lack of proper supervision

A thorough investigation of the incident and the premises may help identify negligent actions or inactions that led to the incident.

For example, say an employee carelessly leaves an exterior door near at-risk residents open and unsupervised. If a resident exits and wanders off because of this oversight, a court may find the facility negligent.

Other things a court may consider about the facility:

  • Elopement prevention policies and procedures
  • Staff elopement prevention training and education
  • History, if any, of facility wandering and elopement problems

The court will also want to know if your family member has a history of wandering away or is at risk of eloping, as many dementia patients do. Providing evidence showing that your loved one was at risk for this may improve your odds of success with your legal action.

Knowledge of Florida nursing home laws and experienced legal guidance may also help you obtain compensation and justice for your loved one.