Wandering & elopement injuries are dangerous issues for nursing home residents. If you love someone in a nursing home, we encourage you to learn more about these issues, how to prevent injuries, and how our Louisville personal injury lawyers can help if nursing home neglect causes a resident’s injury or death.
The Danger of Wandering and Elopement
Nursing home residents often require supervision or assistance to stay safe. They could get hurt if they:
- Wander. Wandering occurs when a nursing home resident leaves the safe space inside a nursing home and moves around the facility without help or supervision.
- Elope. Elopement occurs when a nursing home resident leaves the nursing home property alone.
Any nursing home resident may wander or elope. Typically, dangerous wandering & elopement injuries occur when a nursing home resident is confused, bored, or determined to leave the facility.
According to our Lousiville personal injury lawyers, a resident who wanders or leaves the facility may not realize they are putting themselves in danger. Instead, they may be:
- Wandering aimlessly. A nursing home resident may be stressed, confused, or bored and begin walking around without a clear intent to wander away from a safe space.
- Wandering out of confusion. A nursing home resident may believe that they need to get home, attend to a child, find a loved one, or go to work. This type of confused wandering is most often seen in nursing home residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It may also occur when residents are new to the nursing home and unfamiliar with the environment or have medication changes, too much medication, Sundowning syndrome, an infection or illness, or unmet physical or emotional needs.
- Wandering with a purpose. A nursing home resident may be trying to find a staff member for help or purposefully trying to leave the facility.
Any of these wanderings may lead to elopement and may result in serious injuries.
What Could Happen During Wandering or Elopement?
According to our Louisville personal injury lawyers, these risks depend on several factors, including:
- Where the resident goes
- Weather conditions
- How long it takes to find the resident
For example, consider what could happen to a resident if the resident:
- Is out on a busy road with a lot of traffic
- Is outside in extreme heat or cold
- Is gone for a long time and misses essential doses of medication
- Goes without food or water for an extended time
- Approaches a body of water
The resident could suffer injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
The nursing home resident may die from wandering or elopement injuries in the most significant cases.
Nursing Home Responsibility to Prevent Wandering & Elopement Injuries
Nursing homes have a duty of care to each resident. They must use reasonable care to prevent residents from wandering & elopement injuries. Whether the nursing home violated its duty of care will be evaluated based on all of the circumstances in a particular case. Some of the things that may be considered include:
- Staffing levels. Wandering and eloping may be a problem in understaffed nursing homes. Residents may become frustrated while waiting for care and leave safe areas. Additionally, residents who plan to wander may have an easier time avoiding staff members if fewer are on site.
- Staff training. Nursing home staff should receive training on how to identify residents at risk of wandering or eloping and how to prevent wandering and elopement for all residents.
- Creating individual care plans. These plans should include information about a resident’s risk of wandering or eloping and detailed steps to take to prevent the resident from wandering or eloping. For example, residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may benefit from consistent daily routines, adequately staffed facilities, and camouflaged exits.
- Maintaining safe facilities. The facility may need locked doors with alarms, video surveillance, and other physical safeguards to prevent wandering and elopement injuries.
Could You Have a Nursing Home Neglect Case After a Wandering Injury?
Your parent or loved one is likely in a nursing home because they needed care that you couldn’t provide at home. Whether or not wandering was a particular concern of yours when you placed your loved one in a nursing home, the nursing home had a responsibility to prevent your loved one from wandering.
According to our Louisville personal injury lawyers, you may have a nursing home negligence case against your loved one’s nursing home if you can prove that:
- The nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care
- The nursing home failed to provide your loved one with reasonable care
- Your loved one was hurt because of the nursing home’s lack of reasonable care
- Your loved one, or their representative, has the legal authority to bring a lawsuit
Each case is dependent on the specific circumstances that led to the wandering or elopement. Experienced Louisville personal injury lawyers will gather all of the evidence and advise you about whether you have a case worth pursuing.
Potential Damages in a Nursing Home Wandering or Elopement Injury Case
Before you pursue a nursing home neglect lawsuit, you need to know why you are pursuing the claim. If your case is successful, your loved one or their estate may recover compensation for:
- Medical costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Additionally, the lawsuit may encourage the nursing home to take additional proactive measures to prevent this kind of neglect from harming other residents.
Contact Our Experienced Louisville Personal Injury Lawyers to Learn More
Your family deserves to know everything possible about a potential nursing home neglect lawsuit. Our experienced Louisville personal injury lawyers and staff nurse will answer all of your questions, provide you with all of the information you need to make informed decisions, and, if appropriate, fight hard for your loved one’s full legal recovery.
Please contact us any time—24/7/365—to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, and please download our free book, Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse: What Families Need to Know to Help Their Loved One, to begin learning more about what you can do to protect your loved one today.