Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement Lawyers
Wandering and elopement are issues that are most often associated with children, people with disabilities, or elderly individuals with dementia. In nursing homes, wandering and elopement can occur when there is a lack of safety protocols in place or when residents are not monitored carefully enough.
Nursing homes have a duty to provide quality care that prevents their residents from being harmed. If wandering and elopement occur, it is possible that the nursing home could be held accountable for failing to uphold its duty of care.
If you suspect your loved one wandered or eloped due to poor nursing home care, you should report the issue right away and get in touch with a lawyer. If your loved one was harmed while wandering or eloping, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit against the nursing home for their negligence. However, proving that the nursing home was at fault is not easy, which is why it is beneficial to work with a lawyer.
At Crossen Law Firm, we understand how scary it can be to learn that your loved one has wandered or eloped from their nursing home. We can help you investigate the case and even help you recover compensation if your loved one was harmed due to nursing home negligence.
If you suspect your loved one is the victim of wandering and elopement due to nursing home neglect, contact one of our skilled nursing home abuse lawyers right away at (317) 401-8626.
What Is the Difference Between Wandering and Elopement?
Technically, elopement is a form of wandering. So in a way, they are both similar in how they are described. Wandering is used to describe an incident where a person — such as a nursing home resident — wanders into an unsafe or restricted area. This act of wandering where they are not supposed to be can increase their risk of being injured.
Elopement generally starts with wandering but results in the person fully leaving the grounds or premises altogether. So a nursing home resident who has wandered might still be on the property but is in an area they are not allowed to be, whereas a resident who has eloped has left the nursing home and ended up somewhere else.
In either situation, the wandering can be intentional or unintentional. For example, a resident might wander with the intent of poking around in an area they are not supposed to be or with the intent of leaving the property to go somewhere else. Or they might wander simply because they are confused, such as a resident who has dementia not fully being aware of what they are doing or where they are going.
Whether intentional or not, wandering can increase the resident’s risk of being harmed, especially if they do manage to fully leave the property and end up somewhere else. This is why safety measures should be in place to prevent this from happening.
What Is the Main Risk Factor for Wandering and Elopement?
According to medical experts, one of the leading causes of elderly wandering and elopement is Alzheimer’s or dementia. These diseases can result in difficulty with language, judgment, decision-making, abstract thinking, and spatial skills — all of which can lead to someone wandering or eloping. In general, any mental or neurological condition that causes disorientation or confusion can cause a person to wander.
What Else Can Cause Wandering or Elopement in Nursing Homes?
Aside from Alzheimer’s and dementia, there are a number of other things that can lead to a nursing home resident wandering or eloping. This can include:
- Residents feeling unsafe or scared and wanting to escape
- Residents wanting to leave to fulfill a perceived goal, such as visiting someone or going to the store
- Residents not wanting to be at the nursing home, so they try to leave
- Someone luring the resident to a restricted area or luring them off the property
- Residents who are restless and agitated
Again, while dementia is one of the leading causes of wandering and elopement, a resident might also wander or elope even when they are of sound mind. Still, even if they seem to be fully aware of what they are doing, they can end up getting hurt.
What Happens When a Nursing Home Resident Elopes?
When a nursing home resident elopes, there can be serious consequences for the nursing home. These facilities are held to a high standard and are required to provide quality care to ensure their residents are not harmed. If a resident elopes, this could indicate that the nursing home is not up to standards, and they could be held liable for their negligence.
When a resident is discovered to have wandered, the nursing home should have protocols in place to find the resident, which includes sending out an alert to notify staff so that immediate action is taken to find the missing resident. The nursing home is also required to inform certain individuals and authorities of the incident, especially if the resident has eloped, which includes management, family members, doctors, and law enforcement.
If the resident is 60 years of age or older and suffers from dementia or some other mental condition, police will send out an official alert through the Silver Alert System. The nursing home may also face an investigation and fines if negligence on their part is suspected.
What Are the Dangers of Elopement?
According to medical studies, wandering is a common occurrence in elderly populations, especially those in caregiving environments, such as nursing homes. It is especially prevalent in patients with Alzheimer’s.
While studies show that many individuals who wander or elope are eventually found safe, 30% of them die or suffer serious injuries from exposure, drowning, or being hit by a car. In some cases, the individual who wandered is never found.
Can Wandering and Elopement in Long Term Care be Prevented?
Yes, wandering and elopement can be prevented. Nursing homes can be more diligent about implementing protocols to prevent these incidents from happening. Such steps that can be taken include:
- Creating a care plan for residents who are at risk of wandering.
- Conducting more thorough assessments of all residents regularly to identify changes that could lead to wandering or elopement.
- Identifying weak points in security that could result in a resident wandering or eloping without being noticed.
- Installing alarm systems to prevent residents from escaping or wandering into restricted areas.
- Training staff on how to identify, manage, and prevent wandering and elopement.
- Using more advanced strategies to find a resident once they have gone missing.
- Ensuring patients are well-cared for and engaged so they are less likely to become agitated and want to leave.
Can I Sue a Nursing Home If My Loved One Elopes?
Yes. If your loved one wandered or eloped and was harmed or ended up in a hazardous predicament, you can file a lawsuit against the nursing home. However, to win your case, you will need to prove that the wandering or elopement was the result of negligence on the part of the nursing home.
It is possible that a nursing home did everything it should have done, and still, your loved one may have wandered or escaped. On the other hand, if the nursing home fails to uphold its duty in some way, such as not having sufficient security protocols or failing to monitor a resident closely enough, then you may be able to hold them accountable.
If you report the incident to authorities or your local ombudsman, they may conduct their own investigation into what happened. However, it is also wise to consult an attorney. It can be challenging to prove that a nursing home was negligent in these cases, but an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer will know how to help you prove that the nursing home was at fault.
Your lawyer can help with the investigation, gather evidence, and help you build a strong case against the nursing home. If you can prove that the nursing home was negligent, you could recover financial compensation that can help you pay for damages suffered as a result of your loved one wandering. This can include medical expenses, alternative care costs, mental distress, physical pain & suffering, and even wrongful death.
Crossen Law Firm: Indianapolis Nursing Home Wandering and Elopement Lawyer
Discussing your case with an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse lawyer can help you during this trying time. At Crossen Law Firm, our personal injury attorneys will fight tirelessly on your behalf and the behalf of your loved one to help you get what you are owed. We understand how scary and traumatizing wandering and elopement incidents can be, and we are here to help. You will not owe us anything unless we win your case.