We decide to place loved ones in nursing homes with great thought, care, and examination of conscience. We then research and choose a particular nursing home we feel we can trust with the safety and well-being of our loved ones.

Nursing homes have a duty to honor this trust. Their sole responsibility is to ensure that their residents—our loved ones—live safe, healthy, happy lives in these care facilities.

So, when we discover that a loved one has been injured because he or she was left to wander a nursing home or to elope outside the facility, we are filled with a sense of outrage and frustration.

If your loved one sustained injuries because they wandered away from their nursing home or eloped the facility, you deserve compensation. A Zanes Law wandering and elopement lawyer in Phoenix, AZ will do everything from A to Z to see that you recover the damages resulting from this negligence.

Call us today at 602-999-9999 for a no-charge, no-obligation case review.

Statistics for Residents’ Wandering and Elopement in Nursing Homes

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 50 percent of nursing home and assisted living residents have dementia or some other cognitive impairment. These conditions present strong risk factors for wandering about the nursing home or even eloping outside the facility.

According to the Journal of Advanced Nursing, up to 31 percent of nursing home residents and as much as 70 percent of older adults who have dementia wander at least once.

Why Nursing Home Residents Wander and Elope

Many reasons can explain a resident’s tendency to wander or elope, but the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias define the behavior with one overarching explanation: “It is a purposeful behavior triggered by a desire to fulfill a need.”

Any way you shake it, a nursing home resident should never feel a need so powerfully that he/she is driven to wander about or elope from the facility to satiate that need, especially when the need is something as basic as an emotional need for more stimulation or for less stimulation, the need to urinate, or to ease a physical discomfort.

The staff should be on top of those needs—aware of them and responsive to them.

Risk Factors for Wandering and Elopement in Nursing Homes

Nursing home staff should also be aware of other risk factors for wandering and elopement and instill measures to address those factors toward the prevention of these behaviors. According to the Annals of Long-Term Care, the risk factors for nursing home residents’ wandering and eloping include:

  • Dementia
  • Cognitive disability
  • Older ages
  • Male gender
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Socially active lifestyle
  • Noisy environments
  • Internal discomfort
  • Need to urinate
  • Need to feel safe
  • Need for someone familiar
  • Dysfunctional memory
  • Dysfunctional spatial awareness

When a nursing home shows negligence in identifying these and other risk factors and/or to respond in a way to prevent the likely wandering and/or elopement, the facility can be held liable for the injuries and other damages the resident sustains as a result of the behavior.

Zanes Law’s wandering and elopement lawyers in Phoenix, AZ will prove this negligence to establish liability and see that you receive the compensation you need and deserve.

Nursing Homes’ “Duty of Care” is Key to Claiming Wrongdoing

Any time you file a personal injury claim, complaint, or lawsuit, you are required to establish the defendant’s liability, a legal concept that is based on proof of the defendant’s negligence.

First, you must establish that the defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff. This means that the defendant was responsible for taking reasonable measures to keep the plaintiff safe and free from harm.

Nursing home facilities have a duty of care to keep their residents safe from all dangers—including those associated with wandering and eloping.

Nursing Homes’ Failure to Prevent Wandering/Elopement is a “Breach of Duty”

Many reasonable actions can be taken to keep older adults safe from the dangers of wandering and eloping. For example:

  • Federal regulations require that nursing homes that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid conduct thorough, accurate assessments of residents’ needs and conditions within 14 days following their admission to the facility.
  • Residents should be reevaluated and with a minimum frequency of every three months.
  • An indication of high-risk residents should be readily visible on their charts.
  • Nursing homes must train staff to step in and reduce the risk of wandering in an appropriate manner.
  • All nursing home staff and visitors should be familiarized with the facility’s policies and procedures for wanderers.
  • Facilities need to develop and implement plans to manage an elopement crisis, including search procedures and having recent photos on file for every resident.

When a nursing home fails to implement or execute such procedures, and a resident wanders/elopes, the nursing home has breached its duty of care. Therefore, if the resident sustains injuries in the process, the nursing home is liable for damages.

Proving That the Nursing Home’s Breach Caused Injury

Our legal team will investigate your loved one’s case of wandering or elopement, gathering evidence from witness testimonies, photos, medical records, surveillance videos, facility safety records, among other sources.

We will use this evidence to prove that your loved one’s injuries resulted from the nursing home’s negligence to prevent the wandering or elopement.

Calculating Damages That Your Loved One Suffered

Zanes Law’s wandering and elopement lawyers in Phoenix, AZ will develop a comprehensive list of damages that resulted from the nursing home’s negligence.

Types of damages you might see on this list include:

  • Surgeon/Doctor fees
  • Prescribed medicines
  • Hospitalization
  • Physical therapy
  • Relocation to another facility
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

We will present the list to the nursing home’s insurance carrier, along with the costs associated with each item, and a total amount we are demanding to be paid.

If the insurer does not agree to a fair settlement, our legal team will file a lawsuit against the nursing home in civil court, on your behalf.

Zanes Law Will Champion Your Right for Compensation

The legal team at Zanes Law feels passionately about protecting nursing home residents from abuse and neglect.

Our firm will fight for your loved one’s rights to live in a safe environment. Call us today at 602-999-9999 for a free, no-obligation case review. We will do everything from A to Z to make things right for you and your loved one.

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