Wandering and Elopement

Rockland County Attorney Experienced in Nursing Home Negligence Cases

People who are confined to nursing homes and assisted living centers are at special risk for wandering and elopement. This involves walking off the premises due to negligent supervision by the staff members charged with the care of the frail and elderly residents of these facilities. Rockland County nursing home negligence lawyer Valerie J. Crown handles a wide variety of cases against licensed care facilities in Greater New York. These include not only those arising from physical abuse but also those arising from more passive forms of neglect. In each case that we accept, Attorney Valerie J. Crown does her best to fully investigate the patient’s history, the actions or inactions of the assisted living facility, and the harm that came to the resident due to the home’s neglect or abuse.

A substantial number of nursing home patients are confined to bed or a wheelchair, but many are not. When an ambulatory patient suffers from conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, wandering – moving aimlessly from place to place – is very common. Elopement can also be a serious problem. While many people associate the term “elopement” with a young couple running away to get married in secret, the term is also used in medical settings. As a medical term, elopement means leaving a treatment facility without authorization or permission. While a patient can “elope” from many types of medical environments, it is a particular problem in places such as mental health treatment centers and nursing homes because the patients in these types of facilities may pose a particular risk to themselves.

Wandering or Elopement Can Result in Significant Harm

When a patient in a nursing home is at risk for wandering or elopement, there are steps that should be taken to avoid harm to the patient. If a care facility fails to act in a reasonably prudent manner, and a patient is hurt as a result (such as a patient wandering off the grounds and being struck by a car), a claim for negligence may be filed on the patient’s behalf. To prove a case of negligence, the plaintiff must show four elements: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Typically, an expert witness must be hired to establish the particular standard of care that was owed to the patient under the circumstances and to explain to the jury exactly how the defendant breached the standard of care. The plaintiff has the burden of proof and must be able to convince the court by a preponderance of the evidence that they are entitled to damages as a result of the defendant’s actions or inactions.

While wandering and elopement can cause substantial harm and even death for nursing home patients, some long-term care facilities err at the opposite end of the spectrum, subjecting patients to the improper use of restraints or other measures calculated more for the convenience of an understaffed care center than for patient safety. (Sadly, some nursing homes even use punitive tactics like enforced isolation to control “problem” patients.) This also can result in liability and a substantial verdict for monetary compensation against the responsible nursing home or assisted living center.

Contact a Knowledgeable Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer in Rockland County or Beyond

If you have a loved one whom you believe has been a victim of neglect in a New York nursing home, the Rockland County law firm of Valerie J. Crown, Attorney at Law, P.C., is here to help. We assist people whose loved ones have been neglected, abused, or mistreated in nursing homes located in Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange Counties, and New York City. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 845-708-5900, contact us online, or call Valerie’s cell phone at 845-598-8253 so that we can arrange a convenient time for you to come in and discuss your concerns with us. There are filing deadlines for claims involving personal injury or wrongful death in the State of New York, so it is important that you consult an attorney as soon as you suspect that your loved one has not been treated properly.