Nursing homes and assisted living facilities in New Mexico and around the country are expected to do all they reasonably can to keep their patients and residents safe. That’s why they can be held accountable in civil court when they fail to meet this standard of care. A nursing home in California was reminded of this on Dec. 16 when an elderly patient and her daughter filed a lawsuit seeking $50 million in damages.
The patient is suing because she was sexually assaulted on in October by a 48-year-old man who had recently been released from prison. The lawsuit claims that the nursing home was aware of a nearby transient and homeless population and acted negligently by leaving a back door open and not hiring enough staff to provide adequate security. The patient also accuses the facility of elder abuse.
The perpetrator, who remains in custody on bail of $2 million, was apprehended eight days after the assault based on DNA evidence. He was linked to the crime when a tissue sample collected at the scene was sent to the federal Combined DNA Index System for analysis. The lawsuit alleges that the man walked past a nurses’ station as he made his way to a room on the second floor of the facility to carry out the attack.
Incidents such as this one are becoming worryingly common. Personal injury attorneys with experience in cases involving nursing home neglect and abuse may take legal action on behalf of patients who suffer injuries or damages in incidents that could have been prevented. This kind of litigation could seek compensatory damages to cover the victim’s medical costs, pain and suffering and mental anguish. Juries may also award punitive damages in these cases to deter other nursing homes from acting in a similarly negligent manner.