Elopement (also referred to wandering) refers to a situation in a nursing home, assisted living facility or other institutionalized living arrangement when a cognitively impaired person leaves the safety of the facility without the knowledge of the staff. Many instances where a patient elopes from a facility result in serious injury or even death when the individual encounters a world he or she is not equipped to deal with.
Particularly in situations involving patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the patient may be physically stronger than the facility acknowledges, thereby posing a significant danger to the individual as the person may be capable of pushing through barriers that were intended to keep them safe.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciates a families frustration and disappointment when a loved one wanders from a nursing facility. Our team of Chicago, IL based nursing home neglect attorneys is committed to holding facilities fully accountable when a loved one elopes from a facility during their admission. Contact our Chicago office for a free case review of your nursing home elopement case today.
A Patients Propensity to Wander
A nursing home patient should be identified at the time the patient is admitted to the facility and re-addressed by the facility as required. Preventive measures should be implemented by the facility to remove the opportunity for the patient to leave the safety of the facility.
Elopement prevention can be achieved by implementing the following measures:
- Provide an adequate number of staff to supervise residents.
- Screen patients at the time of admission to assure the facility is capable of caring for them.
- Train staff on how to identify patients who may elope — and how to re-direct them.
- Use window and door alarms.
- Have contingency plans in place to locate missing patients.
Illinois Nursing Home Liability When Patients Elope From Facility
For patients unequipped to face a potentially dangerous world, eloping from the safety of a nursing home or assisted living facility — for even a brief time — can be disastrous. Knowing these dangers, facilities are responsible for keeping tabs on patients’ whereabouts and to make use of widely accepted safety measures. The failure to provide or implement these common sense safeguards in a situation where a patient is harmed exposes facilities from a liability perspective.
Nursing Home Elopement Claims and Awards
$650,000 Chicago Settlement; Nursing Home Elopement Case
The resident involved in this nursing home dispute was in his late sixties (67). He was admitted to the facility in the fall of 2015. Doctors deemed him a high risk for falls and elopement. Over the course of the next ten or eleven months, he tried to escape five times. On the last elopement incident, he died. Specifically, he tried to leave through a window on the fifth story and fell to his death. His single adult child survived him. She brought a lawsuit on his behalf and hers. She argued that the facility failed in its duty to watch the man. The nursing staff knew that he was going to try and elope, but they were unsuccessful in their prevention. He got outside the facility on a number of occasions and even managed to open a window on the fifth story of the building. The complaint sought damages for the costs, grieving, and pain that his passing caused the daughter. In a private agreement to settle, she obtained $650,000 in compensation from the defendant nursing home.
$400,000 Chicago Settlement; Nursing Home Elopement Case
This case started after a nursing home resident escaped from her residence and went wandering around the local Chicagoland community. Eventually, she got so lost that she could not find her way back. She died that night from hypothermia. The police authorities found her body not many miles away from the facility. She was survived be two children. They were each adults at the time of this incident. They sued the nursing home in Illinois court. They alleged that the facility’s negligence caused their mother’s death. They criticized the nursing home’s surveillance systems, employee training and monitoring policies, and other practices that allowed her to exit unattended. They sought compensation from the defendant facility for the woman’s pain, their grief, and all the bills that came because of it. The facility replied in brief but did not press the matter all the way through trial. Instead, it agreed to settle with the family for the sum of $400,000.
$800,000 Illinois Settlement; Nursing Home Elopement Case
This Illinois nursing home case involved an elderly veteran. He had dementia and required constant care and supervision. He also had a habit of trying to exit out the rear of the facility and wander around the neighboring area. On one such occasion, he did that and tripped down a flight of stairs that just bordered the nursing home. The man was not discovered for several hours. When they found him, he was bleeding and badly injured. They rushed him right away to the emergency room. Doctors performed surgery on his ribs, hip, legs, and other parts of his body. He died one week later. His counsel brought an action against the nursing home. The complaint cited the facility with negligent care and monitoring and pinned his death on the nursing home. The defendant nursing facility offered several objections to the main cause of action. However, it could not justify why he was left alone and allowed to elope. That was the whole reason the accident happened. Not wanting to press this matter at court, the defendant offered to settle. The plaintiffs received $800,000.
$650,000 Chicago Settlement; Nursing Home Elopement Case
The plaintiff in this incident was almost one hundred years old. Doctors said that she was a high risk falling as well as elopement. She suffered from Alzheimer’s and other medical problems due to her old age. Apparently, she had tried to escape on a number of occasions before the event which gave rise to this settlement occurred. She would often push other residents around on their wheelchairs as a pretext for giving chase. On the day in question, nursing staff left her and about one dozen other residents unattended. This gave her the moment she needed to run away. She did not get very far though. After she exited the facility, she fell and broke her hip. This required surgery and cost $30,000. She died a little after these events transpired. Her family (three adult children) sued for wrongful death and negligence. They claimed the facility should have watched their mother better since they knew she was a risk for eloping. They did and she suffered and died prematurely as a result. The defense replied that they did the best they could; their mother intentionally ran away; and she was already dealing with several pre-existing conditions that could have played a part. Nevertheless, they were not against settling and the family received $650,000 in a settlement agreement.Chicago Nursing Home Elopement Lawsuits
Episodes of nursing home elopement typically result in significant injury or death. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC knows the significance of these cases from both an emotional and financial perspective. Our nursing home attorneys’ experience with elopement cases involving Illinois nursing homes neglect has enabled us to develop relationships with with the leaders in nursing home and assisted living care who we frequently consult with in these cases from both an investigative and litigation strategy perspective.