Negligent Security in Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities 

 October 24, 2019

By  LMW Attorneys

Realizing you have to send a loved one to live at an assisted living facility can be heartbreaking. But sometimes, it’s the best decision, given the circumstances. That said, you’d expect high-quality care for your family member – from healthcare to ensuring the premises are safe. So if you hear that your loved one has suffered an injury due to negligent security, you want them to be held accountable – fast.

What is negligent security?

The cause of action in this type of case is negligence. In order to be successful in a negligence claim, you have to prove four elements:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of the duty of care
  • Causation
  • Damages

Every nursing home has a duty of care that they owe to their residents. However, be aware that any injuries sustained by your loved one have to be caused by the breach. For example, if your loved one’s nursing home has faulty security and your loved one was robbed on-site, the damage was caused by the breach.

How to prove negligent security at a nursing home?

Negligence is a civil cause of action. This means that if a person is found responsible for the damage, they will only be held accountable financially. On the other side of the coin are crimes. These are illegal activities where the wrongdoer faces both financial penalties and jail or prison time.

Within the scope of premises security, there are different ways in which a nursing home resident could suffer damages:

  • Theft. This occurs when a person knowingly takes the property of another with the intent to deprive them permanently of it. This could be done by another resident or a nursing home staff member.
  • Burglary. This entails entering a structure surreptitiously with the intent to commit a crime inside. This could be done by a third party who has nothing to do with the nursing home.
  • Battery. A battery occurs when a person intentionally touches or strikes another person against their will. For example, if two residents physically fight each other, if a staff member is more forceful than they should be, or if a burglar physically harms a nursing home resident while committing the burglary.
  • Sexual Battery. This is an oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by a sexual organ or any other object, without the consent of the victim. It could be done by an intruder, by another nursing home resident, or by a staff member.

Florida law requires nursing homes to provide a safe environment for their residents. This means having adequate security personnel to safeguard the property from intruders as well as conducting adequate background checks and providing surveillance to ensure that staff members carry out their assigned duties.

There are different ways to prove negligent security through a process called discovery. Depending on the circumstances of the case, your attorney will decide what would be the best strategy. This may include subpoenaing surveillance video, deposing (taking the oral testimony) of nursing home personnel, witnesses, security company, or anyone else who would have firsthand knowledge of what occurred.

If the security breach was caused by internal personnel, your attorney will look into whether the assisted living facility or nursing home knew or should have known that there was reason to believe a particular staff member was untrustworthy. This is called actual knowledge – when management was aware that an employee was dishonest, or constructive notice – when management should have known there was a problem due to prior disciplinary actions, criminal activity, or complaints against the staff member.

If the security breach was caused because the premises weren’t secure enough, your attorney will look for evidence of whether management was aware of the problem and whether they were proactive to resolve it – for example, broken locks, unlit surroundings, an empty front desk, or an unlocked back door.

Call Us to Discuss Your Case

If a family member was hurt at a nursing home or assisted living facility due to negligent security, let us help.  At Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins, P.A., we have experienced attorneys who can design the best strategy for your case.

Contact us, and let’s discuss your case.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended to be for informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.