One often-overlooked form of nursing home neglect involves resident’s being attacked by third parties–either strangers or other residents. When most think of elder abuse their minds races to caregivers who intentionally act to harm a senior or who are obviously negligent and allow beds sores to develop or falls to occur. But under the law the caregivers can also be held responsible in certain settings where third-parties intentionally harm another.
For instance, take a case recently reported by ABC News involving a sexual assault in a nursing home. According to the report, authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the rape of an 86-year old nursing home resident with Alzheimer’s. The crimes was allegedly perpetrated by a 65-year old man who was also a resident of the care facility. The attacker has been charged with several crimes, and investigators are working to learn more details about how this could have occurred.
For one thing, there were clear signs that the man posed a risk that required at least some caution on the part of caregivers. Most notably the man was a registered sex offender under Megan’s Law which requires warning and public notification of living arrangements for those with a history of sexual crimes.
Those familiar with Illinois nursing home surprise inspections in recent years are likely aware of the fact that many dangerous individuals reside in nursing home secretly. Individuals wanted for various crimes, including some sex offenses, often manage to make their way into these facilities–hiding out and, at times, hurting other residents.
It can come as a surprise for many families to learn of the dangers posed by other residents in a long-term care facility. After all, seniors are moved into these facilities specifically because they are at risk of suffering harm if they live at home. One assumes that caregivers in these locations will act appropriately all of the time to ensure that their loved one is spared harm. To get the news that a senior has been physically or sexually assaulted in the very place they were supposed to be kept safe is heart-wrenching.
Nursing Harmed by Others
Family and friends of nursing home residents should be aware that owners and operators of long-term care facilities have a responsibility to act reasonably to protect their residents from harm from third parties. That includes ensuring that other residents do not act inappropriately and cause physical or sexual abuse. When they fail in that duty, they can be held legally responsible for the harm that results. When pursuing a case of this nature lawyers will likely attempt to identify the risk factors that caregivers should have been aware of before the accident (i.e that a resident was a registered sex offender). They will then compare that with basic steps that the caregivers did or did not take to prevent possible harm.
Our team of Illinois nursing home abuse attorneys have worked with countless families whose loved ones have been harmed in just this way. For example, right now we are working a family of a local man with Alzheimer’s who died after he was physically attacked by another resident at an Oak Park nursing home.
Feel free to contact our office to learn more about how the law applies in these cases.
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