Nursing homes and their employees are tasked with providing adequate care to the individuals whom they serve. As consumers, elderly individuals and their loved ones expect that care providers in nursing homes will be trained to handle daily tasks, recognize medical emergencies, and follow proper protocols. It is also expected that care providers are individuals with high ethical standards, a clean record, and a desire to care for others. There is also an expectation that all nursing home owners, operators, and employees are familiar with, and abide by standards in accordance with personal injury, elder abuse, and nursing home wrongful death laws.
The Nursing Home Abuse Center recently reported an estimate that more than 30 percent of nursing homes in the United States have received at least one citation for abuse. Further, as many as 90 percent of U.S. nursing home patients may not be getting proper care. When proper care is neglected, nursing home patients become at risk for injury, illness, or even unnecessary death. Further, when nursing home owners and operators fail to meet their obligations and follow the law, the dangers extend from inside the facility to the entire community.
Nursing Home Employees Dangerous to Those Inside and Outside Facilities: Owners and Operators Still Liable for Nursing Home Wrongful Death
For Texas families, it is difficult to imagine that a nursing home employee who is intoxicated on-the-job is caring for their loved one. Intoxication can result in reckless decision-making, poor judgement, inability to focus, and irritability. It is the duty of nursing home owners and operators to monitor and manage their employees, recognize problems, and take action to avoid unnecessary risks, injuries, or loss of life. When owners and operators fail to meet these standards, the results can be devastating.
In 2013, a harrowing incident changed the life of one Texas family after a fatal car accident claimed the life of a husband and father. An intoxicated driver who had just left her shift at a nursing home caused the traumatic car accident. With a record indicating that she had previously worked while intoxicated, the nursing home took no action to dismiss her from her employment, or prevent her from operating a vehicle on the day of the crash. Texas law requires employers to be vigilant in identifying intoxicated employees and to take reasonable action to prevent the employee from causing harm to the public. Such reasonable action includes calling local police, arranging alternate transportation, or calling an emergency contact. Here, the nursing home made no such effort.
Following the accident, the family of the man killed filed a nursing home wrongful death claim against the employee responsible for the accident, along with the nursing home property owner. The nursing home was found to be negligent in allowing the employee to leave the facility intoxicated, along with having violated several of its own policies and obligations. The family was awarded a substantial amount of damages, including punitive damages.
While a monetary award cannot replace life lost, it can offer some hope of financial security, along with holding negligent parties liable for their misdeeds. Nursing home wrongful death cases are often complex and emotionally challenging, and it is important for victims and their loved ones to have the strength and support they need to fight back against negligence.