Can You Sue An Assisted Living Facility For Negligence?

By Greg Kohn

Sadly, elder abuse is a serious and common issue in assisted living facilities throughout the United States, including New Jersey. As New jersey elder abuse attorneys, we witness the physical and emotional injuries caused by elder abuse in assisted living facilities.

Even though residents of assisted living facilities may not require the same level of care that nursing home patients may need, residents depend on the facility for necessary care. Residents may need assistance with meal preparations, cleaning, personal hygiene, and medication. Some residents require substantial supervision and assistance. All residents, regardless of their physical or cognitive condition, are at risk for elder abuse. When elder abuse occurs, family members can and should take legal action to hold the parties responsible for the abuse and the facility liable for their actions.

Suing an Assisted Living Facility for Negligence

Negligence in an assisted living facility can take many forms. The facility could be negligent in its hiring or supervision practices for its staff. It could also be negligent in maintaining the facility or providing adequate care for residences. The staff could be negligent in the care of residents, such as in giving the wrong medication to residents, failing to assist patients with personal care, or failing to ensure that patients maintain a healthy diet. In some cases, the wrongdoing rises to the level of abuse and neglect.

Any form of negligence or wrongdoing can put a resident at risk for serious physical injuries. Additionally, residents can suffer great emotional and mental distress because of the negligence of an assisted living facility.

Holding an assisted living facility accountable for its negligence begins with an investigation into the alleged negligence. An attorney familiar with elder abuse is skilled in investigating allegations of negligence by assisted care facilities. In most cases, an experienced elder abuse lawyer has a team of professionals and resources to help investigate the negligence allegations.

Once evidence is gathered proving negligence, a lawsuit is filed against the assisted living facility and individual defendants responsible for the wrongdoing, abuse, or neglect. The evidence must establish the elements of negligence. The four basic legal elements of a negligence case in New Jersey are:

  • Duty of Care — The first element is to prove that the facility owed a duty of care to the resident. By law, the assisted living facility owes a duty of care to its residents under the contract signed with the resident to provide adequate care. Staff members have a duty of care to act as any reasonable person would under similar circumstances.
  • Breach of Duty — The second element requires proving that the defendants failed to act with reasonable care. Experts are typically used to testify what would have been expected in a similar situation and how the defendants’ actions or inactions failed to meet the expected level of care that would have been reasonable in that situation. 
  • Damages — The breach of duty must have resulted in damages, such as injuries and monetary losses. 
  • Causation — The evidence must prove that the resident’s damages were directly caused by the breach of duty by the defendants. 

All four elements are required for a successful negligence claim. If you can prove that the assisted living facility was negligent, your loved one may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, physical injuries, emotional distress, pain, suffering, and other damages. 

Contact Our New Jersey Elder Abuse Attorneys for More Information 

If your loved one was injured because of the negligence of an assisted living facility, contact our New Jersey elder abuse attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.