Contributory negligence occurs when the nursing home alleges that the nursing home resident contributed in some way to their own injuries, meaning the injuries were not fully caused by the nursing home or its employees. Contributory negligence can diminish the damages in a case. For example, if the resident is determined to be 50% at fault in the case, the final settlement can be reduced by 50%. If the resident is partially at fault, then they would partially have to pay for their own injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to nursing home abuse and is overwhelmed by the legal process ahead, be sure to contact an experienced lawyer to assist in guiding you through this process.
Impact of a Disability on Negligence
Sometimes, physical, mental and emotional impairment or disabilities can be used against a person’s insurance company. However, these tactics do not usually go very far, since this method is not very sympathetic to the patient dealing with that incapacity. However, the impairment or disability can sometimes be enough evidence for contributory negligence in a nursing home abuse case.
For example, if a resident with Alzheimer’s does something that they are not supposed to do, the nursing home can try to blame it on the resident. In reality, though, the nursing home is supposed to be a skilled facility that should be able to deal with those patients and understand the level of care that must be used with them. Every resident in a nursing home is provided with a reasonable duty of care, even those with mental or physical disabilities, and should be entitled to a safe and secure environment.
Standard of Care
Employees at nursing homes and hospice facilities are supposed to be trained and able to deal with patients with mental and physical incapacities. The fact that a patient has Alzheimer’s, for example, is not something that should create contributory negligence for the patient, but instead, it creates a heightened duty for the facility since they are supposed to have proper procedures in place to take care of patients with those types of problems.
When Contributory Negligence May Occur
Sometimes, certain patients may choose not to take their medication or make other harmful decisions about their health that nurses are unaware of. They may lie to the nurses and tell them they are doing one thing when they are actually doing another. If some patients are suicidal and try to physically injure themselves, that could be a contributing factor to damages, depending on the patient’s actions and the patient’s mental capacity and whether it was something that the nursing home facility could have and should have prevented from happening.
Disproving Contributory Negligence
There are two ways in which a person can prove that contributory negligence is not a factor in their nursing home abuse case. The first way is to prove that the nursing home knew or should have known that this problem existed and should have had somebody in place to prevent the resident from being able to do whatever it was that caused the injury.
Secondly, the resident can prove that the injury would never have occurred but for the negligent actions of the nursing home. Even if the person directly caused injury to themselves, in some cases, it could be proven that had the nursing home not been negligent, the injury would not have happened.
Assistance of a Lawyer
Experienced attorneys understand the laws regarding contributory negligence and what factors can be taken into place to limit that contributory negligence in a nursing home abuse case. A nursing home resident’s attorney will know how to protect the rights of the patient, what records to look at, what questions to ask the nursing staff and record keepers, and how to distinguish between different sides of the story. Contributory negligence can play a role in a nursing home abuse case, solidifying the need of an experienced lawyer to properly handle the case in question.