Chicago Nursing Home Elopement Or Wandering Lawsuits
It is utterly worrying and almost inconceivable to find that your senior loved one cannot be located at their nursing home.
This is exactly the last thing you wished to happen when you entrusted your family member to the nursing home, and the facility indeed had a duty to keep the resident safe in their premises. When a nursing home fails this duty and allows the resident to wander or elope, the elderly becomes vulnerable to serious injuries or even death.
When your aged loved one wandered or eloped and was subsequently injured, can you take legal action against the nursing home? This is possible, and your family may potentially be compensated for your financial and emotional distress. Talk to us at Willens & Baez to learn about your best legal options.
What Counts As Elopement Or Wandering?
“Elopement” in this context means leaving the facility while unsupervised and unnoticed. Typically, it involves a resident willfully escaping the nursing home premises by themselves. They often succeed at this after several attempts. But in some cases, elopement happens when the resident is supposed to be chaperoned outside the facility – for instance, while going to the hospital or to a doctor’s appointment.
What if your family member never left the nursing home grounds when they went missing? This may be a case of “wandering” – that is, a nursing home resident roaming aimlessly within the facility’s premises, without care for their safety and health. It can be just as dangerous as elopement. For example, a wandering resident could fall down stairs or ingest a substance they should not have.
A Nursing Home’s Duty To Prevent Wandering Or Elopement
Incidents of elopement or wandering are to be anticipated in long-term care facilities. In fact, one study found that as many as 45 percent of nursing home lawsuits involve elopement that occurred within the resident’s first 48 hours in a facility.
These incidents usually involve persons with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, dementia, and other geriatric disorders. Because these are common among seniors, a nursing home is inherently obligated to provide adequate security and supervision to prevent its residents from walking into harm’s way. Specifically, the facility should:
- Assess each potential resident for elopement risk
- Accept only residents that it is able to protect
- Have enough staff who are familiar with residents
- Adequately monitor to at-risk residents
- Sufficiently train staff to identify wandering or elopement signs
- Secure doors, windows, gates, and barriers
- Install alarms on doors, beds, and wheelchairs to alert when patient leaves
- Use appropriate surveillance equipment such as video cameras in hallways
- Redirect residents who are wandering
- Ensure that resident is chaperoned when going outside the facility
- Have a swift protocol for searching and reporting to authorities when a resident is missing.
Unfortunately, not all long-term care facilities fulfil these duties, and we’ve seen too many cases of the elderly being harmed after getting the opportunity to elope or wander. The outcomes are often devastating.
Just a few months ago, a 67-year-old woman disappeared from a Bronzeville, Chicago nursing home and was later found dead, over two miles from the facility. In another recent case, an 87-year-old resident sustained fatal injuries after falling from a third-floor window in a nursing home in Buffalo, New York. There was also the case of the 63-year-old man whose body was found partially submerged in water, more than three months after he was left unaccompanied in a doctor’s waiting room in New Hampshire.
These tragic stories highlight the need for elder care facilities to be vigilant in protecting their residents. Sadly, it is common for such facilities to be understaffed, hire unqualified caregivers, and minimize their budget on security, leading to inadequate protection for our elderly loved ones.
Can You Sue A Nursing Home For Wandering/Elopement?
It is not acceptable for any facility to endanger our loved ones, and a nursing home that is negligent enough to allow this should ideally be made accountable. But the truth is, elopement or wandering as such does not automatically make a legal case against a nursing home. Consider these important factors:
Of course, nursing homes should conduct their own elopement risk assessments. Still, some facilities are able to defend themselves by claiming that they were not aware of this risk with the resident, and are thus not liable for their escaping.
Injuries may include not just physical cuts and bruises, but also other forms such as your loved one’s worsened health, exposure to exploitation (being robbed, sexually assaulted, and so on), and emotional trauma.
These considerations could be used by the nursing home to prevent you from successfully pursuing a lawsuit. But with the help of a competent injury attorney, you and your family can fight for the justice that your loved one deserves. Even when you are facing a well-resourced company, it is best to consult with a lawyer to see the strongest legal approach for your case.
Willens Law Fights For The Elderly And Their Families
The attorneys at Willens & Baez are some of the most aggressive in Illinois when it comes to fighting for the injured. We have effectively helped many families in nursing home cases involving neglect, lack of supervision, and lack of security.
Willens & Baez serves Chicago and surrounding communities. Nursing homes here include:
- Aperion Care
- Arbour Health Care Center
- Balmoral Home
- Bethesda Rehab & Senior Care
- Center Home Hispanic Elderly
- Central Nursing Home
- Chalet Living & Rehab
- Citadel of Waterford
- Mayfield Care Center
- Mercy Circle Retirement Community
- Norwood Crossing
- Peterson Park Health Care Center
- Princeton Rehab & HCC
- Ridgeview Rehab & Nursing Center
- St. Paul’s House
- Sunrise of Lincoln Park
- The Point at Kilpatrick
- Warren Barr Gold Coast
- Windmill Nursing Pavilion
Talk to us about your loved one’s elopement or wandering injury or wrongful death. Your initial consultation with Willens & Baez is absolutely free and confidential. Please don’t hesitate to call us today at (888) 445-1446.