When nursing home abuse lawsuits arising from allegations of elder abuse and neglect in Escondido go to jury trials, how do those juries decide liability? When cases go to juries, members of the jury are provided with the “essential factual elements” of the claim. Then, they are instructed that if the essential factual elements have been met, to find in favor of the plaintiff. Different types of nursing home abuse and neglect claims come with different jury instructions.
We want to give you some more information about the essential factual elements of a nursing home neglect claim as well as some examples to clarify how a jury might decide a particular case.
Nursing Home Neglect in California
What are the essential factual elements of an elder neglect claim? In other words, if you file a claim for nursing home neglect, what do you need to prove in order to win your case? Under the California Welf. & Inst. Code Section 15610.57, the following are the California Civil Jury Instructions given to jurors concerning the essential factual elements of a neglect claim:
- Defendant had care or custody of the plaintiff;
- Plaintiff was 65 years of age or older, defining the plaintiff as a dependent adult, while he or she was in the defendant’s care or custody;
- Defendant failed to use the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would have used in the circumstances;
- Plaintiff was harmed; and
- Defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
In terms of the third element, what are some of the circumstances in which a nursing home or its staff members can be held liable for failing to use reasonable care? The jury instructions list the following examples:
- Assisting in personal hygiene;
- Assisting in the provision of food, clothing, or shelter;
- Providing medical care for the plaintiff’s physical and mental health needs;
- Protecting the plaintiff from health and safety hazards; and/or
- Preventing malnutrition or dehydration.
Identifying Nursing Home Neglect in Escondido
As you can see, a jury can find a nursing home liable for injuries from nursing home neglect even if the nursing home did not have any intention of harming the plaintiff. For instance, if a nursing home is particularly understaffed—even if those staff members are deeply concerned about providing quality care to patients—it can be liable if the staff failed to provide the level and quantity of care that a reasonable person would have provided. Making a determination about what a “reasonable person” would do can be complicated, but a nursing home abuse lawyer in Escondido can gather evidence to show that the facility and its staff members did not behave as a reasonable person would have under similar circumstances.
What if a nursing home staff member does intend to harm a patient by neglecting that patient’s care? The jury instructions do not require any intent to harm a patient, but if there is intent, that does not preclude a plaintiff from winning his or her case. As long as the essential factual elements of the claim cited above are met, the plaintiff can recover damages.
An Escondido Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer can Help
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(image courtesy of Daniel Boyd)